Bears 2023 NFL Draft Preview: Michael Mayer and the Tight Ends

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Bears 2023 NFL Draft Preview: Michael Mayer and the Tight Ends

Chicago Bears

The 2023 NFL Draft is around the corner. And unlike last year when Ryan Poles didn’t have a first-round pick, the second-year Chicago Bears GM has a top 10 selection to work with. He’ll get to work with Assistant GM Ian Cunningham, Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and others as they put their heads together to come up with a winning draft plan. We’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.

Previous: Quarterbacks, Running backs, Wide receivers

Today: Tight ends

Currently on the Roster (2022 PFF Grade)

Cole Kmet (67.6), Robert Tonyan (57.7), Chase Allen (60.0), Jake Tonges (52.5)

BN’s Composite Ranking

Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, CBS Sports, and The Athletic, and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th-ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top 10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.

Here’s how the top prospects stack up (points in parenthesis):

  1. Michael Mayer, Notre Dame (38)
  2. Dalton Kincaid, Utah (38)
  3. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State (29)
  4. Darnell Washington, Georgia (28)
  5. Sam LaPorta, Iowa (26)
  6. Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State (20)
  7. Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan (12)
  8. Brenton Strange, Penn State (11)
  9. Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion (7)
  10. Davis Allen, Clemson (5)

Also receiving Top-10 consideration: Will Mallory (Miami, Fla.), Josh Whyle (Cincinnati)

Team Fit and Need

Tight end isn’t a high-priority need. If anything, adding here might be considered a luxury. But this still feels like a sneaky need. Because even though Luke Getsy’s system isn’t as obsessive at Matt Nagy’s was about getting the right guy at this particular position, it is still important. We’re just one year into his run as Chicago’s lead play-caller, but we began getting a feel for what Getsy looks for in his tight ends. And if the Bears can identify a two-way tight end who can contribute as a blocker and pass-catcher, then I can see GM Ryan Poles bolstering this group with a Day 2 or Day 3 pick.

With Cole Kmet and Robert Tonyan atop the depth chart, drafting a tight end would allow a young player to come along slowly in a spot where development takes time and patience. Again, this isn’t a position the Bears should prioritize early on draft weekend. But if a fit emerges, addressing it with a pick at some point next weekend makes sense.

Bears Connections

The way the Tribune’s Brad Biggs frames this tweet has me thinking the Bears might be in the market for a new tight end at some point during NFL Draft weekend:

South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft is an intriguing mid-round prospect. Sixth on our BN Composite Rankings, Kraft was a two-time FCS All-American and two-time first-team All-MVFC player. And it’s not as if the Missouri Valley Football Conference hasn’t put out quality skill position players. Bears fans are familiar with what Packers receiver Christian Watson. Plus, let’s not forget about South Dakota State producing Eagles stud tight end Dallas Goedert. In other words, put some respect on The Valley — which might as well be the FCS subdivision’s version of what the SEC is to the FBS.

If I Had to Pick One:

Maybe I’m a prisoner of the moment intrigued by a new name on our radar. Or perhaps my affinity for the Missouri Valley Conference is showing itself. Whatever it is, SDSU’s Tucker Kraft certainly has my attention. And it’s not just my attention. Because some of the best football analysts are impressed with Kraft’s tight end prowess:

Drafting a tight end who can help Justin Fields stretch the field vertically while also contributing as a blocker would be the best of both worlds. And it would make for a wonderful Day 2 selection if that is how it falls.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.