Draft Guides, Sleepers, Alternative Positional Needs, and Other Bears Bullets
I’m not going to use this space to post any Succession spoilers.
Thank me later.
- Draft dorks unite! Today is a great day for those of us who nerd out on the NFL Draft. We’ve already got PFF’s annual draft guide and an updated top-50 prospects list from Daniel Jeremiah on our hands. There is also a draft guide from Windy City Gridiron’s Jacob Infante, who does tremendous stuff in bringing our attention to worthwhile prospects. But today brings us The Beast via Dane Brugler at The Athletic:
- This is where the fun begins. More specifically, this is where the pre-draft crunch gets going.
- We’ll dive into The Beast later. In the meantime, I’d recommend browsing through and seeing where your favorite prospects land on Brugler’s list.
- I love when an analyst’s favorite prospects and mine meet at the same intersection. ESPN’s Louis Riddick shares his favorites and sleepers in this upcoming draft. To my surprise, there was crossover in our favorites. As an additional bonus, some of our also happen to be players who could (should!) be on the Bears’ radar. For instance, Tennessee OL Darnell Wright lands on the list with Riddick commenting that the Volunteers’ standout blocker might’ve made the move into a top-15 draft pick because he moved from left tackle to right tackle in 2022. I’m into Wright because of his ability to play both sides because there is no more hiding a weaker pass-blocker at right tackle in modern football. You need to be able to hold it down in pass protection on both sides. Wright seems to do that well. Hence, his jump into top-15 consideration.
- The other Riddick fave who lines up with my list is Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez. Because while Patrick’s BN mock draft has the Bears taking Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon with the ninth pick, I’d also consider Gonzalez as an option. Riddick’s description explains why:
Big corners who have movement skills like Gonzalez don’t come along often. At 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, he has the fast feet and hands to be a very efficient press corner in the NFL. I love his pattern recognition, fluid hips and closing quickness. And Gonzalez has the ball skills to finish, breaking up seven passes and intercepting four last season.
The icing on the cake? Gonzalez is also fearless as a tackler. Simply put, he is the total package and has a high ceiling as a pro.
- Big corner seems to fit Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ defensive profile. Ball skills? You know that’s what Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams wants. Plus, the description of Gonzalez as a “fearless tackler” is one of those things that shows the type of toughness I want out of my favorite team’s cornerbacks. It would be gnarly if the Bears line up in 2023 with a secondary starring Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Christian Gonzalez, Eddie Jackson, and Jaquan Brisker.
- More sleeper talk as Alex Ballentine (Bleacher Report) shares a list of prospects who are being overlooked ahead of the NFL Draft. Players at positions I think the Bears should target in the draft include Texas RB Roschon Johnson, Ole Miss WR Jonathan Mingo, BYU OT Blake Freeland, Wisconsin DT Keeanu Benton, LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari, and Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes. Running back isn’t a high-priority position, but I love the idea of adding a sleeper with upside at a position group that goes through so much yearly attrition. And when it comes to Johnson, I’m intrigued by what he can add as a receiver (56 catches, 240 yards in his career) out of the backfield.
- It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. The Bears need to prioritize building out the trenches. After that, taking the best players at the most impactful positions should be at the top of the to-do list. That means adding cornerbacks, pass-rushers, and playmakers. Chicago’s football team has so many needs that you really can’t go wrong if you travel along a good process. Is it easier said than done? Absolutely. But other teams do it. Why can’t the Bears be like well-run organizations for a change?
- Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) explores some of those alternative position groups in underscoring how the Bears could target cornerback, wide receiver, or running back. The Bears have options. Not just because of where they pick or how many picks they have, but also because they have so many holes to fill. They won’t plug them all this offseason. And they certainly won’t get all of ’em done during the draft. But this seems like a good year to take a volume approach to fill out the roster. At a minimum, it should make for a fun training camp full of competition.
- I’m bummed that the Bears don’t make the cut among the teams Matt Bowen sees as a “best fit” for top playmaker prospects in this draft. And I’m doubly bummed about him putting into the universe that Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be an ideal fit for the Packers. No thanks. (ESPN)
- Happy Play-in Tournament Week, Bulls fans:
- Seiya is coming soon! (BN Cubs)
- Seeing this in real time had me going “oof!” and “ouch!” in a matter of moments:
- It’s a major award (nomination):
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