Everything You Need to Know About Chicago Bears First-Round Pick Darnell Wright

The Chicago Bears wrapped up NFL Draft weekend by making 10 picks. No, they didn’t fill every vacancy, but second-year GM Ryan Poles added potential starters and intriguing depth options to the mix. We’ll meet the Bears’ 10 draft picks, get to know a bit about their past, and where they project to go moving forward.

DARNELL WRIGHT (ROUND 1, PICK 10)

•  Position: Right tackle
•  College: Tennessee
•  Height, weight, hand size, arm length: 6-5, 333 pounds, 9″ hands, 33 3/4″ arms
•  Accomplishments: SEC All-Freshman Team (2019), First-team All-SEC (2022)

Every offensive lineman taken in the top 10 since 2016 has been a primary starter as a rookie. This group includes Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, and Charles Cross (2022), Penei Sewell (2021), Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills Jr. (2020), Quentin Nelson and Mike McGlinchey (2018), and Ronnie Stanley and Jack Conklin (2016). And while I realize past success isn’t an indication of what the future holds, it does tell us that teams picking offensive linemen early are doing so with the conviction in their belief that this player will start immediately at an important position. I have no doubts that GM Ryan Poles and his front office believe that about Wright going into the 2023 season.

HIGHLIGHTS

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

via NFL Draft Profile

STRENGTHS

  • Bulldozer vibes when working double teams and combo blocks.
  • These are the kinds of words I like to see used when describing my favorite team’s offensive linemen.

  • Jolts linebackers out of positioning with push.
  • Something I’m seeing in Wright highlight clips is him reaching the second level and plowing linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties down the field. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • Uses length for forceful redirection.
  • Length is clearly something this regime values in its offensive linemen.

    WEAKNESSES

  • Gets very little bend in his two-point stance.
  • Bend was a draft weekend buzz word. And when an offensive lineman doesn’t have it, they tend to get beat. Perhaps this is something pro coaching can clean up.

  • Below average hand resets and finish as run blocker.
  • The Bears were one of the NFL’s best run-blocking offensive line last year. Some of that had to do with the personnel, but I think we can credit coaching to some extent. Again, this feels like something that can be worked on now upon throughout the offseason.

  • Shows confusion against twist.
  • One area of frustration last year was watching Bears offensive linemen block against stunts and twists. I’m not sure if it was a scheme thing. Or a talent thing. Whatever it was, it drove me nuts. Work in the film-room is going to be a must to straighten this out.

    NFL.com player comparison: D.J. Fluker

    RELATIVE ATHLETIC SCORE

    Relative Athletic Score grades player measurements on a 0-10 scale and compares them to their contemporaries. It is a unique way to give some of these prospects some more depth and perspective.

    WHERE HE FITS

    Starting right tackle in Week 1. Long-time fixture protecting QB Justin Fields for the foreseeable future.

    Discussing the value of a quarterback on a rookie scale deal has grown tiresome. So let me flip the conversation and let me be the first to be trumpeting the value of offensive linemen on rookie deals. Because if you can build a competent group of blockers with players on value deals, then it allows for flexibility elsewhere. And it seems as if that is what Poles has done.

    As of now, the Bears’ starting offensive line in Week 1 will feature Wright at right tackle, a left tackle who was a Day 3 pick (but played like a first-rounder) last year, and a left guard who was a second-round pick in 2021 (and thrived after a position switch). That means three of Chicago’s five O-line starters are homegrown players on rookie deals. This should give Poles a tremendous amount of flexibility moving forward — in addition to having solid players. With Justin Fields eligible for an extension after the end of the 2023 season, the Bears should be clearing paths just in case their quarterback plays his way into a mega-deal (kinda like Jalen Hurts did last year).

    The 2023 NFL Draft had a bunch of interesting O-line prospects, but the group was looking top-heavy after all the evaluations were in the books. When Day 2 of the draft opened its doors, seeing how thin the position was looking had me thankful the Bears beat the run on offensive linemen by taking Wright in the first round. And did so by adding a highly-graded offensive lineman who has experience at multiple positions. I’m hoping the positive traits he picked up at other positions come with him as he establishes himself at right tackle.

    written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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