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NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Recap

Ultimately, this draft for the Chicago Bears will be determined by the success of quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears gave up this year’s first-round selection to move up to take the former Ohio State quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. The pick that the Bears traded away ended up being No. 7 overall so it was a heavy price to play.

NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Recap
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images/AFP

Chicago didn’t take its first offensive players until pick No. 71 so an obvious question is whether they provided enough help for their quarterback of the future. The Las Vegas odds list 28 quarterbacks ahead of Fields when it comes to the NFL’s passing yardage leader in 2022 which begs the question of whether the Bears did enough to help Fields out.

Many of the picks went higher than expected according to the NFL predictions, however, many of the selections came late in the draft.

The Bears used their first two selections on defensive backs and later in the draft picked up four offensive linemen.

Chicago (+800) is a distant third in the odds to win the NFC North Division despite a pretty solid draft.

Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how the Bears drafted.

  • Pick 39 Kyler Gordon | CB, Washington Huskies

The University of Washington has sent more than their share of defensive backs to the NFL with nine cornerbacks or safeties taken from the Washington program from 2015-21 and the Bears are hopeful that pipeline will give the team a solid starter across from Jaylon Johnson, a second-round selection two years ago.

Gordon was overshadowed a bit by teammate Trent McDuffie, a first-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs but Gordon enjoyed a solid 2021 season with 45 tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups.

The NFL betting line doesn’t have Gordon listed among the top NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates but he has the talent and opportunity to move up that list.

The Bears doubled up on defensive backs with the selection of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Brisker. He had nearly 150 tackles and five interceptions in 34 career games at Penn State.

Jaquan Brisker will add some physicality at the safety position and playing in a division that includes Green Bay quarterback and reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, improving the secondary seems like a wise strategy.

This pick was acquired in exchange for Khalil Mack so there will be more than a few eyes checking out what Brisker adds to the defense considering that Mack is one of the most disruptive defensive players in the NFL.

The Bears finally got some help for last year’s No. 1 pick Justin Fields with the addition of the former Tennessee receiver who certainly looks the part as the 6-foot, 205-pound Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

One concern is that Jones had more catches (62) during the 2021 season than he did in the previous four years combined so he was really only productive for one of his five collegiate seasons.

Velus Jones should add some excitement on special teams as he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns at Tennessee and as a senior averaged 27.3 yards returning kickoffs and 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns. He could have some work to do when it comes to producing as a receiver in the NFL but he should have opportunities to play immediately for a Bears team lacking receiving options.

An interesting pick taking a small school lineman coming off a 1-10 season. Southern Utah averaged 2.9 yards per rushing attempt.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Jones increased his NFL Draft stock are running the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds.

Jones has experience playing left tackle but it came in the Big Sky Conference. There will be an adjustment period for Braxton Jones, one of four offensive linemen picked by the Bears in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Braxton Jones | Michael Hickey/Getty Images/AFP

Dominique  Robinson started off as a receiver at Miami as he had 24 receptions during the 2018 and 2019 seasons before moving over to the defensive side of the ball.

Robinson’s numbers (11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) in 15 games are nothing special, the Bears are going with potential over production. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds to go with a 41-inch vertical leap. At 6-foot-5, he had a frame where he could get up to 265-270 pounds and if he can provide some pressure off the edge, it would help the Chicago defense.

Another offensive lineman with a 40-yard dash time under 5.0 seconds so if the Bears want to enter a relay race for 300-pounders, they might be in good shape.

He was a three-year starting offensive tackle at San Diego State, the first two years manning the right tackle spot before moving over the play left tackle. Zachary Thomas has one advantage over the other offensive linemen in the draft, he got to practice against his brother Cameron, a defensive end selected in the third round by Arizona.

The Bears picked up a versatile back late in the draft. Ebner had 127 career catches at Baylor. As a senior, he had two touchdown runs, two TD receptions, and returned a kickoff for a score.

Ebner also returned punts as he finished in the top 25 nationally in all-purpose yards. There’s a chance he could fill the role that Tarik Cohen did with the Bears as a third-down back with the added bonus of contributing on special teams.

Trestan Ebner | Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP

Kramer played in more than 2500 career snaps at Illinois and having linemen with the ability to play center is never a bad idea. Doug Kramer was projected to go right around this spot and if the Bears’ offensive line doesn’t show improvement, it isn’t due to a lack of resources as the Bears took six offensive linemen in the last two drafts.

Carter adds another interior offensive lineman. Like Kramer, Carter comes to the NFL with plenty of experience in college as a four-year starter at Southern.

Ja’Tyre Carter had a chance to compete among larger school players at the Senior Bowl. He’ll have to make the adjustment from college tackle to guard at the next level.

  • Pick 254 Elijah Hicks | S, California Golden Bears

Hicks spent his first three seasons at California playing cornerback before moving to safety. Another late-round pick with tons of college experience, Elijah Hicks finished with more than 200 tackles and five interceptions in his five seasons with the Bears.

Hicks had a career-high 72 tackles and three interceptions as a senior.

Elijah Hicks | Ezra Shaw/Getty Images/AFP

The Bears finished 26th in the NFL in net punting average in 2021 so a late-round selection of a punter makes some sense. Gil averaged 47.6, 44.9 and 45.1 yards per punt over the last three seasons. He also handle kickoffs for North Carolina State with 58% of his kickoffs over the last three seasons resulting in touchbacks. The Bears ranked 22nd in touchback percentage last season so if he wins the punting job, Trenton Gil would likely also take care of the kickoff duties.

Grading the draft

The Chicago Bears started this draft with some work to do after dealing away their first-round pick as well as sack master Khalil Mack and receiver Anthony Miller. That  leaves some holes to fill and is a reason why those who bet online probably won’t be expecting much from the Bears this season.

Chicago did have six selections between the sixth and seventh rounds and received some praise for most of those selections. There are still some issues at receiver and the Bears will need at least a couple of the offensive linemen they drafted in the last two drafts to be ready to contribute in a major way. Let’s check the Super Bowl odds.

Grade: B

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