2022 NFL DRAFT DEEP DIVE: CHICAGO BEARS
By Tayyib Abu
The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We continue our team by team series with the Chicago Bears:
|2||48||Jaquan Brisker||S||Penn State|
|5||168||Braxton Jones||OT||Southern Utah|
|5||174||Dominique Robinson||EDGE||Miami (OH)|
|6||186||Zach Thomas||IOL||San Diego State|
|7||255||Trenton Gill||P||NC State|
New Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles was an onlooker on day one of the NFL Draft. The Bears didn’t own a round one pick due to Poles’ predecessor Ryan Pace spending a 2022 first-round pick in a trade to get Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. Subsequently, round one of the draft was a non-event as the Bears patiently waited for round two.
The Bears kicked off their draft by selecting Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon. Gordon is a rangy, physical cornerback with good hand skills and a penchant for tackling ball-carriers with venom. Versatile enough to play on the outside, or the slot, Gordon ticks many boxes for new head coach Matt Eberflus. While concerns surround Gordon’s top-end speed, he boasts intriguing traits that should see him fight for a starting spot on the Bears’ defense.
Ten picks later, the Bears continued to bolster their defensive secondary by selecting Penn State defensive back Jaquan Brisker. While some draft sites listed Brisker as a cornerback, it seems as if the Pittsburgh native will play at safety. Eberflus’ Colts defense utilized a lot of nickel packages, and they loved having a roving safety on the field. Brisker is a strong box safety. His understanding of gaps and ability to quickly diagnose run plays should help the Bears’ run defense in specific situations.
Brisker is also a talented deep defender. He operates the post area well and has a nose for the ball. Pro Football Focus handed Brisker a coverage grade of 89.5 for 2021. It is another solid addition. The Bears ended day two with the selection of wide receiver Velus Jones. A core special-teamer, Jones will contribute on that side of the ball straight away. The big question regards his potential on offense. Jones is a rugged runner after the catch and has plenty of experience, but his physical traits don’t scream 10-year starter.
Day three was the busiest for the Bears as they drafted eight players. Four of the eight players were offensive linemen as the Bears attempted to find pieces for their sieve-like offensive line. Braxton Jones is of particular intrigue; the small-school tackle was projected to go a lot earlier by some draftniks based on his measurements and athletic profile:
The four other players selected were running back Trestan Ebner, defenders Dominique Robinson, and Elijah Hicks, before finishing their draft with punter Trenton Gill. With a lack of top-end picks, Poles tried to bolster the roster with prospective projects and increase competition through the offseason program.
One To Watch: Braxton Jones
After seeing Justin Fields sacked 36 times and placed in the top 8 for adjusted sack rate, the Bears needed to do something. The lack of top-end picks hampered the Bears, and they then had to scour the late rounds for offensive line help. Braxton Jones was the first offensive lineman selected by the Bears. Jones built a solid CV at Southern Utah, the highlight being three sacks surrendered in just three seasons. In his final season as a Redbird, Jones earned a 93.9 PFF grade, and PFF ranked him 110th on their big board. Therefore, picking him at pick 168 could represent good value. Jones’ excellent arm length provides him plenty of leverage advantage, and he can extend and make contact with defensive players.
Moreover, Jones also possesses good agility and is relentless in the running game. While his lack of polish and composure in pass-blocking may stunt his early development, Jones has a decent base to seal a spot on the roster as a potential swing tackle. As a developmental project, Jones is a handy one to have.
|Chase Allen||TE||Iowa State|
|Jaylon Jones||CB||Ole Miss|
|Landon Lenoir||WR||Southern Illinois|
|Henry Litwin||WR||Slippery Rock|
|Savon Scarver||WR||Utah State|
|Master Teague||RB||Ohio State|
The Bears’ UDFA class was extensive, including six linebackers and wide receivers. One to watch is Wisconsin linebacker, Jack Sanborn. Projected as a day three pick, Sanborn is a toolsy linebacker with a big-time pedigree.
Ultimately the Bears’ draft changed by the actions of previous GM Ryan Pace. The Bears had to shed experienced, talented players such as Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson, and they had no high picks to refill the roster. The new regime was in a difficult position, and they opted to chase value and stock up on players at various places. It is tough to say the Bears’ roster got better, but the strategy may yield some late-round gems.
Tayyib is an avid NFL fan and, as a follower of the detroit lions, is a permanent resident in the honolulu blue heartbreak hotel. writing football articles since 2019, tayyib loves everything about the sport except that wins are not a qb stat. follow him on twitter @TayyibABU1