Chicago Bears 2023 NFL Draft Preview: Picks, Predictions, Team Needs, Player Visits, More
Happy NFL Draft Day!
We’ve made it.
Everything you need to know about the Chicago Bears and the 2023 NFL Draft follows this sentence. Enjoy!
What picks do the Bears have?
This is what the Bears’ draft haul looks like when we woke up on Thursday morning:
- Round 1, Pick 9 (via Panthers)
- Round 2, Pick 53 (via Ravens)
- Round 2, Pick 61 (via Panthers by way of 49ers)
- Round 3, Pick 64
- Round 4, Pick 103
- Round 4, Pick 133 (via Eagles)
- Round 5, Pick 136
- Round 5, Pick 148 (via Patriots by way of Ravens)
- Round 7, Pick 218
- Round 7, Pick 258
The Bears having 10 picks blows my mind. Think about it. In Ryan Pace’s last two drafts, he made 14 total picks. His replacement, Ryan Poles, will goes into the 2023 NFL Draft with 10 picks. And could add more. I’m at a point where I expect Poles to add more picks throughout the weekend. In fact, I think it would be disappointing if Poles *DIDN’T* add to his stockpile of picks. Keep ’em coming, baby!
A way-too-early look at the Bears’ depth chart going into NFL Draft weekend (New players in bold):
QB – Justin Fields
RB – Khalil Herbert
FB – Khari Blasingame
WR – D.J. Moore
WR – Darnell Mooney
TE – Cole Kmet
LT – Braxton Jones
LG – Teven Jenkins
C – Cody Whitehair
RG – Nate Davis
RT – ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
DE – Rasheem Green
DT – Justin Jones
DT – Andrew Billings
DE – DeMarcus Walker
LB – T.J. Edwards
LB – Tremaine Edmunds
LB – Jack Sanborn
CB – Kyler Gordon
CB – Jaylon Johnson
FS – Eddie Jackson
SS – Jaquan Brisker
We’re using this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon a lot less now than we were in March ahead of free agency. Kudos to Poles and his front office for the roster tweaks they’ve made this offseason. In addition to the upgrades at receiver (I have to pinch myself daily as a reminder that DJ Moore is a Bear!) and the interior offensive line (the Nate Davis signing is low-key nice), we’re also looking at five new starters in the front seven. It doesn’t take much to imagine some rookies crashing the party and playing their way into the starting lineup. Just saying…
Given the information above, here is how I’m ranking the team’s top positional needs:
- A Day 1 starter at offensive tackle. Please draft someone you want anchoring the line for the next 10 years.
- Stud 3-technique defensive tackle. Committing to the Matt Eberflus/Alan Williams scheme means they need an earth-mover in the middle of that D-line. They can mix-and-match with depth, but only for so long. This unit needs a game changer.
- Butt-kicking defensive end. So long as the NFL is a pass-happy league, your favorite team needs pass rushers who can bring heat off the edge.
- A third starting-caliber corner. This isn’t top of mind, but it should be. Having a third cornerback is less of a luxury and more of a necessity with how often offenses trot out three starting-caliber receivers. Drafting a corner early would make the secondary dangerous as heck. And that would be bad news for Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, and
Aaron RodgersJordan Love.
- Long-term center option. Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to Cody Whitehair’s revenge season in 2023. But I’m not against trying to unearth a long-term replacement on Day 2 or Day 3. You can never have enough interior OL depth.
Other needs: Quality wide receiver depth (Mooney and Claypool are free agents after this season and I doubt the Bears will keep both), rotational defensive line help (so you don’t have to sign it every offseason), safety/linebacker depth (I wish hybrid S/LB types like DeAndre Houston-Carson grew on trees), developmental backup quarterback option (someone to challenge Nathan Peterman for training camp snaps), place kicker (let’s sharpen Cairo Santos with some summertime competition).
Who’s on their radar?
These are the Bears’ known top 30 visits, via Bears Wire’s Alyssa Barbieri:
- Jalen Carter, Georgia DT
- Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech EDGE
- Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State WR
- Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State OT
- Broderick Jones, Georgia OT
- Tyrique Stevenson, Miami CB
- Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland OT
- Darnell Wright, Tennessee RT
- Nolan Smith, Georgia EDGE
- Payne Durham, Purdue TE
- Deonte Banks, Maryland CB
- Mazi Smith, Michigan DT
- Derick Hall, Auburn DL
- Deslin Alexandre, Pittsburgh
- Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas C
- Dontayvion Wicks, Virginia WR
- Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss WR
- Tyler Scott, Cincinnati WR
- Dylan Horton, TCU DE
- Zach Charbonnet, UCLA RB
- Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida DT
- Jordan McFadden, Clemson OL
- Tre Tucker, Cincinnati WR
- Tyler Beach, Wisconsin OL
- Dawand Jones, Ohio State OL
- Karl Brooks, Bowling Green EDGE
- Ilm Manning, Hawaii OL
- Steve Avila, TCU OL
- Juice Scruggs, Penn State G/C
- Devon Matthews, Indiana S
In addition to those names, the Bears have also had local visits with…
- Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern DL
- Jayden Reed, Michigan State WR
- Aidan O’Connell, Purdue QB
- Jeremy Cooper, Cincinnati OL
- Xazavian Valladay, Arizona State RB
And to think, this doesn’t even count pro day workouts, interviews, and visits!
Then again, the Bears didn’t draft anyone they had a published top-30 visit with last year. And I think that is worth keeping in mind this draft weekend. There are so many smokescreens that it is easy to lose track of things.
And with the ninth pick, the Chicago Bears select…
Here’s who the mock drafts have going to Chicago:
- Jalen Carter, Georgia DT (Patrick Flowers, Brad Biggs, Chad Reuter, Eric Galko, Ryan Noonan)
- Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State OL (Mel Kiper Jr., Kevin Fishbain, Peter King, Peter Schrager)
- Peter Skoronski, Northwestern OL (Chris Simms, Jonathan Jones, Adam Jahns)
- Lukas Van Ness, Iowa DL (Matt Miller, Adam Caplan)
- Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech EDGE (Daniel Jeremiah)
- Darnell Wright, Tennessee RT (Eliot Crist)
It wasn’t just us obsessing over the state of the offensive and defensive line. There have been an overwhelming number of mock drafts signaling the Bears’ interest in selecting offensive or defensive line help early in the draft. I read 13 such drafts last night. And while I know the Bears have other needs, it would be fitting for a regime led by two former offensive linemen to use its first first-round pick on someone who can hold it down in the trenches.
Tick, tock. The Chicago Bears will soon be on the clock.