Chicago Bears Draft Priorities Are Coming into Focus
Three weeks from today, we’ll be neck deep in analysis of the Chicago Bears’ first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. But who will it be?
That’s a fair question. And even though I’m not ready to predict a particular player, the Bears’ draft priorities are becoming clear. Helping answer that question is the NFL insiders over at ESPN, who believe the Bears will use their early picks to fortify the trenches.
Specifically, draft guru Matt Miller hears from a group of NFL scouts and executives that Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter won’t fall out of the top 10, name-checking the Bears as a team that could be one of the teams with eyes on Carter: “When asked to predict Carter’s landing spot,” Miller writes “more than 10 scouts and execs polled believed he would be drafted at No. 5 (Seattle Seahawks) or No. 9 (Chicago Bears).”
Okay, then. Noted. And notable.
Remember, this franchise has historically shied away from bringing on players with high-profile red flags. And they don’t get much more high-profile than Carter reportedly misleading police regarding a teammate’s fatal crash, getting booked during NFL Combine week, and having a rough go at Georgia’s pro day in the span of mere weeks.
And along those lines, GM Ryan Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus have touched upon football character as something that matters to them. But at the end of the day, Eberflus’ defense could use someone with Carter’s skill and upside at the 3-technique defense tackle position. And Poles can make that happen with Carter.
Keep in mind Carter was once seen as the consensus top non-QB prospect in this draft. So it isn’t all that difficult to imagine the Bears taking him. But if it doesn’t happen, addressing the D-line still feels pretty likely. And if THAT doesn’t happen, it probably should on the offensive side of the trenches.
At least, that’s my takeaway from this Jeremy Fowler nugget in the same ESPN NFL insider piece:
The Bears (No. 9), Titans (No. 11) and New York Jets (No. 13) are among teams that scouts believe will strongly consider offensive line help with their top picks. These teams met with Georgia’s Broderick Jones this week. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski — whom one NFC scout says has the ability to become a Hall of Fame-type guard — is an option for the top 10, and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright are also well-positioned for high picks. Once one offensive lineman comes off the board, a run on tackles could follow.
Okay, there are a few worthwhile bits here.
For instance, the Bears “strongly” considering using an early pick on an offensive lineman grabs our attention. But so does the fact that a run of offensive linemen could start with Chicago’s team. It makes me hope all the best offensive linemen are available when they go on the clock at nine. That way, they’ll either (1) have their top choice or (2) be able to trade back a few spots and do some double-dipping.
Mostly, I’d like for the Bears not to be scrambling and having to react on a run of offensive linemen going before they go on the clock. That’s the kind of thing that might lead to a panic pick. Those don’t tend to go well. And I’m all about avoiding chaotic situations on draft weekend.
In the end, the Bears’ early draft priorities seem to be coming through loud and clear. All eyes will be in the trenches — both on the offensive and defensive sides of things.