Chicago Bears 2023 Draft Prospects To Target at the NFL Combine Include Will Anderson Jr., Jalen Carter

    Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter are the obvious draft prospects to watch most closely for the Chicago Bears, but others like Wanya Morris also stand out.

    Chicago Bears 2023 Draft Prospects To Target at the NFL Combine Include Will Anderson Jr., Jalen Carter

    The 2023 NFL Combine is on the horizon, and with it comes a chance for the Chicago Bears to learn more about some of the most compelling prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft. Few teams need more from the draft this offseason than the Bears. They’ll be active at the Combine, both on the field and on the phone.

    Bears Draft Prospects To Target at 2023 NFL Combine

    The Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. And the first question on everyone’s mind is: Will they use that pick to select a quarterback?

    It’s a question that has some baseline merit, when you think about how often quarterbacks go No. 1 overall. But Chicago has a QB in Justin Fields who’s emerging as a high-level playmaker, and general manager Ryan Poles gave him a vote of confidence after the 2022 season.

    MORE: Why the Chicago Bears Are Expected To Roll With Justin Fields in 2023

    It could all be a smokescreen, of course. But Poles was honest and thorough in detailing Fields’ strengths and areas for improvement in his postseason press conference. He ultimately came away saying this in regards to taking a QB at first overall:

    “We’re going to evaluate the draft class, and I would say this: I’d have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.”

    Logic seems to be prevailing in Halas Hall. Stick with the young, ascending QB who’s established and has high-level talent to build around. And if Chicago does stick with Fields, as is expected, then a trade-down from the first overall pick seems more than likely. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, it might be a priority for Poles.

    “Teams are keeping close tabs on the Bears, who own the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, and the prevailing theme is Poles is very high on value,” Fowler reported earlier in the offseason. “Despite in-season trades of linebacker Roquan Smith and edge rusher Robert Quinn, Chicago has just eight picks in the draft and only one in the top 50. Poles will most likely aim to change that.”

    It’ll be an active draft season for Chicago. That’s really the only way to summarize all of the impending chaos. And the NFL Combine will be a valuable checkpoint for Chicago, with these five players among the most intriging to watch.

    EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

    If Chicago trades down to either the second overall pick or fourth overall, they’ll likely be able to snag one of Will Anderson Jr. or Jalen Carter. They’re the two unopposed blue-chip defensive prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, but Anderson’s ability to disrupt offenses off the edge might win over Poles.

    Anderson’s size is perhaps the only potential knock in his profile, and it’s not even a big one. He may weigh in around the 240-pound range, but don’t let his frame fool you. He’s a menace in the trenches with elite explosiveness, lateral agility, and shocking play strength. And his ability to generate pressure so consistently can drive play-callers crazy.

    DT Jalen Carter, Georgia

    EDGE is near the top of the Bears’ list of needs, but you could argue a disruptive 3-tech is just as important. Unfortunately, Chicago can only take one or the other at the top of Round 1, and there’s just as compelling an argument for Jalen Carter.

    MORE: Chicago Bears Offseason Preview 2023

    Carter doesn’t have the production profile that Anderson does, but his tape is just as impressive. Carter’s elite mix of explosiveness, proportional length, natural leverage, and play strength amount to a devastating concoction for opposing blockers, and his presence helps break down blocks for teammates as well.

    OT Wanya Morris, Oklahoma

    Also near the top of the Bears’ list of needs is right tackle. After trading away their second-round pick, Darnell Wright might not be in their range. But Wanya Morris is an excellent player to target on Day 2. Morris measured in at 6’5″, 317 pounds, with 35 3/8″ arms at the Senior Bowl.

    On top of his dominating size, Morris is an elite athlete, and his Combine numbers could vault him up the board.

    WR Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

    At the moment, Chicago doesn’t have an abundance of early-round capital, so they may have to rely on the depth of the WR class to upgrade their rotation alongside Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool. Marvin Mims could, therefore, be a value target to keep an eye on.

    Mims isn’t always mentioned in the same breath of other dynamic athletes like Zay Flowers, Jordan Addison, and Josh Downs, but he has some appealing twitch and athleticism in his own right. He’s also a superb player at the catch point.

    CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU

    Some teams may remove Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson off their board due to his size. At the Shrine Bowl, he measured in at 5’7 5/8″ and 175 pounds — admittedly near the lowest percentile for cornerbacks.

    But size wasn’t an issue for elite slot defender Kenny Moore, who, at 5’9″, 184 pounds, made the Pro Bowl under current Bears coach Matt Eberflus.

    Granted, even Moore has a slight edge on Hodges-Tomlinson. But take away the size concerns, and Hodges-Tomlinson is a truly phenomenal football player with truly jaw-dropping athleticism.

    His size will hurt him occasionally, but Hodges-Tomlinson still has the dynamic mobility and football IQ to be a fantastic slot defender for Chicago. His testing numbers should help him gain back some ground.

    Ian Cummings is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Ian’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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