Here’s Who ESPN’s Analytics Say the Bears Will Draft
Just when you thought you’ve seen every type of mock draft, ESPN unearths another tool for us to play with to create more magic. And just in time for the pre-draft ramp up.
ESPN’s analytics team recently introduced its draft day predictor and simulator tool. And if you’ve got some time to fill around, I’d recommend playing with the new toys.
Personally, I find the predictor tool to be most interesting. Because, unlike the simulator, the predictor spits out the chances of a player being on the board and the odds of them being chosen. It certainly is a different way to size up the NFL Draft board. And it has definitely given me a different way to look at who could be available and which direction the Bears can go when on the clock with the ninth pick.
With that in mind, here is who ESPN’s analytics give the best odds to go to the Bears with the No. 9 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft:
- Peter Skoronski, Northwestern OL (22%)
- Christian Gonzalez, Oregon CB (14%)
- Lukas Van Ness, Iowa DE (11%)
- Devon Witherspoon, Illinois CB (10%)
- Joey Porter Jr., Penn State CB (8%)
- Nolan Smith, Georgia DE/OLB (6%)
- Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech DE (5%)
- Jalen Carter, Georgia DT (5%)
- Bijan Robinson, Texas RB (5%)
- Darnell Wright, Tennessee OT (3%)
- Jaxon Smith Njigba, Ohio State WR (3%)
- Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State OL (2%)
- Broderick Jones, Georgia OL (1%)
This is such an interesting collection of names. And my initial reaction after sorting through the data is that we (as a collective) have some blind spots in terms of where the Bears can go with their pick. So, let’s address them while we have a moment.
Obviously, this team has needs to address in the trenches. Hence, the obsessive coverage of any and all reports, mock drafts, and scuttlebutt connecting Chicago and a lineman. Offensive or defensive. It hasn’t mattered. All signs have been pointing to the Bears taking some sort of lineman. And yet, a major takeaway from the numbers above is that it shouldn’t be seen as a foregone conclusion. Moreover, one position we shouldn’t ignore as a Bears first-round target is cornerback. Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon is the self-proclaimed best of the bunch. But Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. could conceivably be top 10 picks. And after GM Ryan Poles took a cornerback and a safety with his first two picks in last year’s draft when all signs were pointing to them taking a receiver or offensive lineman, I need to be more open to possibilities I wasn’t otherwise considering.
The other worthwhile takeaway is that there is no consensus behind Skoronski being the Bears pick. And I suppose that is what makes this draft all the more interesting. Between this team’s many needs and the seemingly myriad options to choose from, this can go in any number of different directions. But there are just nine days left until we figure out which one.