Best picks, sleepers, overall assessment

The Chicago Bears welcomed 11 new rookies to the roster during the 2022 NFL draft, including two projected Day 1 starters in the secondary with cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker.

General manager Ryan Poles made it clear that the secondary and offensive line were the team’s biggest needs, as evidenced by the combined seven draft selections at those positions out of 11 picks.

While it’s far too early to start evaluating this rookie class before they’ve even hit the practice field — yet alone stepped out on an NFL field — Poles made good on his promise to acquire draft capital and build the roster his way.

Now that the 2022 draft is in the books, let’s take a closer look at this Bears rookie class, where we’re looking at the best picks, sleepers, the biggest winner and loser and beyond.

First pick: CB Kyler Gordon

The Bears used their first draft pick to address a pressing need at cornerback with Washington’s Kyler Gordon, who was believed by many to be a first-round prospect. Gordon is a versatile cornerback who has played both outside and in the slot, but he projects to serve as an immediate starter outside opposite Jaylon Johnson. During his collegiate career, Gordon never allowed a touchdown at 18 starts, which makes his pairing with shutdown corner Johnson all the more exciting.

Best pick: S Jaquan Brisker

Chicago used their second draft pick in Round 2 to snag Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker, who might just wind up being the best selection from this Bears draft class. He’s a versatile defensive back, but he projects to serve as a starting strong safety at the NFL level. It’s safe to assume that Brisker will be starting immediately opposite Eddie Jackson, where the hope is Brisker will help jumpstart what was a weak secondary last season. While some Bears fans were hoping Chicago would’ve taken a wide receiver with the 48th overall pick, the Bears got a steal in Brisker at the spot.

Sleeper pick: EDGE Dominique Robinson

The Bears have found some impact players in the fifth round, and there’s a belief that Miami (OH) edge rusher Dominique Robinson can become the next success story. Robinson, a converted wide receiver, is still relatively inexperienced at the defensive end position. But that’s exactly what makes his prospects so exciting. He was dominant in a non-starting role off the edge in college, and with some development and working alongside someone like Robert Quinn could do wonders. Robinson, who’s only played the position for two years, has an incredibly high ceiling and could wind up a steal.

Most intriguing pick: OT Ja’Tyre Carter

The Bears drafted four offensive linemen on Day 3 of the NFL draft, but it’s seventh-round selection Ja’Tyre Carter who is their most intriguing prospect. Carter, who was the first Southern player drafted since 2004, graded in the 100th percentile for pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus. While Carter didn’t face much competition in college, he more than held his own as a guard and center at the Senior Bowl. He’s certainly raw at this point, but he’s an explosive athlete with the potential to develop into a starting interior lineman down the road.

Most questionable pick: WR Velus Jones Jr.

The Bears finally addressed the wide receiver position with Tennessee’s Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. It was easily the most head-scratching pick of Chicago’s draft given many believed that it might’ve been a reach to select him early in the third round. Especially when there were more experienced wideouts, like David Bell, still on the board. But the Bears see the huge upside in Jones. While he still needs to refine his route running, it’s hard not to get excited about his potential given his elite speed and playmaking ability. If Luke Getsy can find the right way to utilize him on offense, he could be dangerous.

Must follow position: Wide receiver

AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

Poles drafted just one wide receiver in the NFL draft in Jones, and it was made clear that there’s still some work for the Bears to do at wide receiver. Chicago’s receivers room has just one proven commodity in Darnell Mooney. While Jones has a ton of upside and Byron Pringle has the potential to breakout in this offense, the Bears need more experience at the position. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Poles go out and add a veteran in free agency, like an Emmanuel Sanders or Will Fuller.

Biggest winner: Defense

AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

For all the talk of the needs on offense, it was the defense that came away as the big winners following the NFL draft. Chicago used their first two draft picks to shore up the secondary with cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. Both project to contribute as starters in their rookie season, and they bring some stability to their respective position. The Bears also got a potential steal in edge rusher Dominque Robinson, who has an incredibly high ceiling and could develop into a starter down the line.

Biggest loser: Justin Fields

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

While the Bears were able to find two immediate starters in the secondary, many were surprised that they didn’t address offense with one of those first two selections. Justin Fields’ development is a huge focus heading into this season, which left many questioning why Chicago didn’t select a wide receiver like George Pickens or Skyy Moore with their second pick. Poles explained why they didn’t go with a wideout, indicating that he wasn’t going to reach on a wide receiver. The Bears did draft four offensive linemen in the draft, all of which came on Day 3. When looking at the group, only Braxton Jones looks to serve as a potential starter ahead of the season. We’ll see if Chicago does anything in free agency to add to the offense, but there are people concerned about Fields in Year 2.

Strategy breakdown: Trading back to acquire more draft capital

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

General manager Ryan Poles made it clear that the Bears were going to be in the business of attempting to trade down to acquire more draft capital. And while they didn’t trade back on Day 2 — using all three of their selections on two starters in the secondary and a speedy wide receiver — Poles made it a mission to add more picks to this draft class. Poles turned three Day-3 picks into eight selections, and he was able to add some developmental players to the roster at some areas of need.

Overall assessment

Ryan Poles certainly made good on his promise to acquire more draft capital, turning six picks into 11 by Day 3. The Bears found two immediate starters in cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, addressing the defense’s biggest weakness in the secondary from a year ago . But it’s hard not to be concerned that the Bears didn’t do enough to help quarterback Justin Fields. Sure, Poles did draft four offensive linemen – all on Day 3 – but only one receiver in Velus Jones Jr., who’s unproven but has the speed and intangibles to potentially become an impact player, in Round 3.

There are some exciting developmental players in the mix, including offensive tackle Braxton Jones, edge rusher Dominique Robinson, running back Trestan Ebner and offensive lineman Ja’Tyre Carter. Heck, the Bears even addressed the punter position with Trenton Gill, who’ll have an opportunity to beat out Ryan Winslow. All-in-all, we got a glimpse of exactly what Poles believed to be the team’s biggest concerns – the offensive line and secondary – and he put together a group with some late-round gems in the mix. But it’s hard to judge this group until they actually hit the field.

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