By: Andy Jachim
Just like that, it’s draft day. The day I have been waiting on for months. This is a major opportunity for Ryan Poles to turn the state of this Bears team around and set them up for long-term success. Having the capital he does in this draft, he can do much damage without a doubt. He put together a solid off-season of free-agent signings, but many holes in this roster need to be filled. Now, this mock draft will look very different than the one I wrote about a couple of months ago and it’s for a good reason. Thanks to free agency, I can attack these holes in the roster head-on. Without further adieu, here’s my final 2023 Chicago Bears mock draft.
Bears Recieve: Picks 16, 47, 2024 Second-Rounder
Commanders Receive: Pick 9
Wait, a trade??? I’ve decided to spice things up a bit because staying at nine would just be too simple. I was going to trade with Pittsburgh, as they’ve been a team rumored to have interest in the 9th pick. However, I believe a QB could still be on the board at nine. Insert Washington. It would make more sense for them to have the motive to move up to this spot with a potential franchise signal-caller available. The Steelers have an interest in Jalen Carter. I don’t believe Carter will be on the board at nine, but if he is I’d expect us to keep the pick and select the game-changing defensive tackle. Nonetheless, the Bears wouldn’t be in too bad of a spot at 16, especially if it means adding a second this year AND next year on top of it. If none of my personal top three guys I’d want Ryan Poles to take at nine (Paris Johnson Jr, Jalen Carter, Tyree Wilson) are available, I’d be cool with moving back.
Round 1 – Pick 16: Darnell Wright – OT – Tennessee
Wright represents the best tackle on the board in this spot and becomes a logical choice for Ryan Poles’ first-ever Round One selection at the Bears GM. The Tennessee Volunteer will come to the Windy City to be the Bears’ new right tackle, as that’s the only spot he’s played in at the college level. I don’t love that about him, but he’s a darn good right tackle. Wright is an insanely great pass protector and is able to sustain bull rushes very well. On top of that, the SEC experience always means something in my book. With this selection, the front office is accepting the fact that Braxton Jones is this franchise’s blindside tackle moving forward.
Round 2 – Pick 47: Adetomiwa Adebawore – Edge – Northwestern
With the additional second-rounder, the Bears get from Washington, they land an elite caliber talent on the D-Line from “Chicago’s Big Ten team”. Adebawore is an absolute force and I would love to see him in our uniform for the next half-decade. I am worried he’s too good of a prospect and won’t be here at 47, but a guy can dream. The Bears are in desperate need of help on the edge, and even though some scouts have him potentially shifting to an interior lineman, I’m keeping him on the outside for the sake of this mock. He will line up on the opposite side of the newly signed DeMarcus Walker, in hopes that this line can finally get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Adebawore has racked up 9.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Northwestern, so he’s fully capable of doing just that.
Round 2 – Pick 53: Joe Tippmann – C – Wisconsin
Another need of the Bears heading into this draft is for a new center to anchor the interior of this offensive line. Tippmann is my number two center in this class behind John Michael Schmitz of Minnesota, and he’s a great consolation prize in this spot. He’s rather athletic for his position and has the ideal height and weight measurables to be successful at the next level, along with having plenty of experience coming in to start right away. Also, this selection allows the Bears to cut veteran Cody Whitehair and save some money against the cap.
Round 2 – Pick 61: Gervon Dexter – DT – Florida
The defensive front makeover continues with the third and final second-round selection for Ryan Poles. Not only couldn’t the Bears get to the passer last year they also couldn’t stop the run to save their lives. Adding Dexter to the interior can help this issue. He’s shown dominant flashes at Florida and has the size makeup to play the position regularly at the next level. He could pair nicely with veteran Justin Jones right from the jump in 2023.
Round 3 – Pick 64: Jayden Reed – WR – Michigan State
Now this pick would be a ton of fun. The Naperville kid coming back to play for his hometown need. Now I know what you’re thinking, why would the Bears need to Target wide receiver after they added DJ Moore? Well, Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney are both on expiring contracts following the upcoming season and it’s unknown whether this front office wants to, or even can bring both of them back. Reed represents depth in this spot in the scenario that the new trio of Bears receivers is only together for this season. A major knock on Reed comes from his production at the college level, but his quarterback play hasn’t been the best. He still was able to find the endzone 10 times in his junior year and only caught four fewer passes in his most recent campaign despite dealing with injury concerns. His ability to get out in open space after the catch really excites me, and I feel like he can make an impact right away (when given the opportunity) here in Chicago.
Round 4 – Pick 103: Darius Rush – CB – South Carolina
While the secondary is a major strength in this squad for 2023, an extra corner could be useful. That’s where Darius Rush steps in. Getting the South Carolina Gamecock at 103 is good value for sure and while there are a couple of other prospects I’d prefer here, they most likely won’t be around when Saturday hits. Rush doesn’t have any crazy traits that’ll blow you away but he is consistent. He’s got great ball skills and thrives in zone coverage. He can play on the outside, standing at 6’2, which allows Kyler Gordon to rotate on the inside at the nickel more frequently. Overall, I’d be satisfied snagging Rush here.
Round 4 – Pick 133: Isaiah McGuire – Edge – Missouri
An under-the-radar edge rusher that I am starting to become a huge fan of in this draft is Isaiah McGuire. The former Missouri Tiger picked up 13 sacks in his final two seasons in the SEC, including seven in 2022. He’s got great size and an excellent motor to go along with his ability to get to the quarterback, which the Bears desperately need. He’s also great against the run, which is a cherry on top to him going here at 133. McGuire has plenty of room to grow, and he will have the opportunity to do so behind DeMarcus Walker and follow rookie Adetomiwa Adebawore.
Round 5 – Pick 136: Israel Abanikanda – RB – Pitt
Abanikanda was an absolute monster at Pitt in 2022. He ran for nearly 1,500 yards and scored 20 touchdowns while averaging 6.0 yards per carry in the ACC. Abanikanda still has a long way to go as a pass-catching back, but his size and speed on the ground are much to be desired at the next level. He’s a younger runningback prospect as well, only playing three seasons at Pitt, and won’t turn 21 until October.
Round 5 – Pick 148: Brandon Joseph – S – Notre Dame
The former Northwestern Wildcat saw his draft stock plummet in 2022 after transferring to Notre Dame. An All-American in 2020, Joseph has plenty of value here in the fifth round. His football IQ in the air game is highly regarded across the college ranks and has the ability to consistently create turnovers when he’s at his best. He could use some work with his open-field tackling, and working behind guys like Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker will help him in that area of his game.
Round 7 – Pick 218: Will Mallory – TE – Miami
The Bears added some tight end depth by signing former Packer Robert Tonyan to a one-year deal back in March. However, with Cole Kmet due for an extension following the upcoming season and Tonyan most likely only being here for 2023, adding a piece like Mallory isn’t the worst idea in the world. In his fifth and final year at Miami, he caught 3 touchdowns and hauled in 42 grabs for 538 yards. All in all, that’s not a half-bad season for a guy going in the seventh round. He has some limitations in his game as a blocker and pass catcher and will probably be a backup at best in the NFL, but that might be all the Bears need him to do going forward.
Round 7 – Pick 258: Ventrell Miller – LB – Florida
Going with the best player available was the approach when taking Ventrell Miller with the second-to-last selection in the entire draft. He projects as a special teamer at the next level, which any team can never have a shortage of. Who knows, he could work in as a rotational guy, but that’ll be hard to do with this revamped linebacker core.
While I can’t read minds, travel through time, or predict the future, I’m confident enough to go with these picks for the Bears.