How’d the Chicago Bears‘ 2023 NFL Draft grades turn out? Revitalized behind the arm and legs of Justin Fields, the Bears’ franchise will look to take the next step in 2023. Have they done enough to complete their roster and gain the boost they need?
Chicago Bears NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 10: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
Now that the Bears have fully committed to Justin Fields, one of the team’s top needs coming into the 2023 NFL Draft was solidifying his protection. More specifically, the Bears had a glaring void at right tackle. They were able to fill that need while also adding a 2024 fourth-rounder in Round 1, coming away with Tennessee’s Darnell Wright at the 10th overall pick.
Considering the value left on the board at other positions of need, the Bears made the right call here. Wright is not only one of the best tackles in the class, but he’s also the best natural right tackle. He’ll be able to file in seamlessly alongside Braxton Jones, Nate Davis, Cody Whitehair, and Teven Jenkins, and he completes what could be a much-improved line in 2023.
What makes Wright’s game so appealing? He’s a 6’5”, 330-pound mauler with smooth recovery footwork and violent hands. He’s a high-level pass protector out of the gate, who also has the core strength, width, torque, and finisher’s mentality to clear lanes as a run blocker. Chicago secures a premier position here and sets the stage for a massive improvement in 2023.
Round 2, Pick 53: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
The trenches — that’s what Chicago came into the 2023 NFL Draft needing to focus on. They added Wright with the 10th pick, and although they lost their original second-rounder in a trade for Chase Claypool, the Bears were able to add a high-upside DT in Gervon Dexter at 53.
This is a bit rich for Dexter, who graded just inside the top 100 on my board. The value at DT, in general, wasn’t great at this pick, and the Bears might have been better served targeting an edge rusher. That said, Dexter does present appeal with his physical potential.
At around 6’6”, 310 pounds, Dexter is a lean, explosive athlete who’s built like a forklift. His dominating raw strength and natural leverage make him very hard to move in run defense, and he has pass-rushing upside with his linear burst and motor. Dexter’s hands are extremely raw right now, and that’s the biggest concern. He also lacks elite proportional length.
Matt Eberflus will have his work cut out for him to get Dexter to his ceiling, but it’s a decent gamble on Day 2.
Round 2, Pick 56: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Florida
The Bears stuck with the defensive side of the ball several picks after taking Dexter, this time pivoting to the secondary. With the 56th overall pick, they brought in Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson.
Again, I would’ve preferred EDGE here from a positional standpoint, but Stevenson is a very good value deal at this point. He was a top-50 prospect on my board, and he offers very exciting upside with his unique frame and athletic profile. Stevenson has some of the most abrupt explosiveness out of transitions in this CB class, and he has a strong frame with great length.
Along with his physical tools, Stevenson has very disciplined technique and fast feet at the line. He also has the speed to stick to hip pockets downfield, and he’s very physical in run support. An added bonus for the Bears, who have Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon on the boundary, is that Stevenson also has experience as a hybrid slot, or STAR defender, from his time at Georgia.
On Day 1, Stevenson is a versatile DB with high-impact tools. He can still keep growing as a playmaker when the ball comes his way, but he fits what the Bears have very well.
Round 3, Pick 64: Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina
There’s still a need for improved EDGE talent on the Bears’ roster, but after making a more risky pick on the interior with Gervon Dexter, it makes sense to double-dip at defensive tackle. And the Bears’ pick at 64, Zacch Pickens, had the upside to warrant consideration in Round 2.
Pickens is a former five-star recruit who exudes natural talent. He plays around 6’4”, 300 pounds. Not only does he wear that weight well, but he also has elite proportional length, with arms over 34” long. In run defense, Pickens acquires leverage well and can shed blocks with ruthless torque, and as a pass rusher, his combined burst, agility, and hand force can be difficult to handle.
Overarching consistency remains a need for Pickens, who can be streaky with his execution from down to down. But he has the operational flashes to suggest a ceiling as an impact player in both phases, and he has a strong enough operational floor to be a stable rotational piece right away.
Round 4, Pick 115: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
The Bears could have dipped into the remaining EDGE pool here, but Roschon Johnson is a quality pick. He’s a superb rotational RB on Day 1 with his hard-charging style, receiving ability, and blocking utility. At his size – around 6’0”, 220 pounds – Johnson’s a slasher as an athlete, and there’s reason to believe he can thrive with added volume.
Round 4, Pick 133: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
Tyler Scott is a top-100 prospect on my board. He’s primarily a vertical threat who needs to keep refining his stem work in the short and intermediate ranges, but Scott’s speed can be deadly for defenses. And with Darnell Mooney’s contract expiring in 2024, Scott provides security and a valuable sparkplug in the rotation.
Round 5, Pick 148: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
This is classic “playing the board” from Chicago. The Bears don’t have a need at LB, with Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, and Jack Sanborn comprising the starting unit. But at this point, Noah Sewell’s natural size-speed combination might be worth the dart throw. He has plenty of room to refine his game beyond the measurements, but the upside is real here.
Round 5, Pick 165: Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota
There were a few higher-rated cornerbacks on my board, but I’m a big fan of adding Terell Smith here, nonetheless. Smith was a standout at the Shrine Bowl. He has a phenomenal build at 6’0 ½” and 204 pounds, with near-33” arms. At the same time, he’s a fleet-footed athlete with easy transitioning ability and 4.41 speed. With Jaylon Johnson entering a contract year, this is a prudent future-minded move.
Round 7, Pick 218: Travis Bell, DT, Kennesaw State
Most Round 7 selections are akin to dart throws, and this dart throw is more intriguing than most. Travis Bell has an eye-catching physical skill set. He’s 6’0”, 310 pounds, but has arms that are almost 33” long. And at his pro day, he logged a 5.03 40-yard dash, a 32.5” vertical, a 9’2” broad jump, and 30 bench reps.
He’s strong, explosive, and has the traits to be a disruptive 3-tech in Chicago’s scheme with more development.
Round 7, Pick 258: Kendall Williamson, S, Stanford
Kendall Williamson likely factors in as a special-teams player for Chicago. He wasn’t overly productive at Stanford, but he does have an ideal physical profile for a special-teams role.
He’s around 6’1”, 202 pounds, with 32” arms, and he logged a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 38.5” vertical at his pro day. Special teams aren’t flashy, but it’s important to have players who can fill that role.
What Were the Bears’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?
- OT, CB, C, EDGE, G, DT
Chicago still has plenty of things to address in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, after adding a slew of picks and DJ Moore from Carolina, wide receiver is no longer a need.
Right tackle remains the team’s most significant need. Justin Fields is at his very best as a passer in the intermediate areas of the field, which requires time in the pocket. Defensively, the Bears still need to address its’ corps of pass rushers, and a third CB to play alongside Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon is another important piece of the puzzle.
Luckily, the Bears have four picks inside the top 64, so they could be in good shape for a few of those needs.
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