15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022: No. 15 Braxton Jones

The Chicago Bears wrapped their 2022 season, where they finished 3-14 and lost their final 10 games of the year. But the future is bright heading into this 2023 offseason, as GM Ryan Poles has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, a boatload of salary cap space ($118 million) and a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears for the 2022 season. We’ll recap their 2022 season and look ahead to how they factor into 2023.

We’re kicking things off at No. 15 with fifth-round rookie Braxton Jones, who earned the starting left tackle job in training camp and gained a wealth of experience in his first season.

Background

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Position: Left tackle

Age: 23

Experience: Rookie

2022 cap hit: $779,888

2022 stats

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  • 7 sacks allowed, 12 penalties (via PFF)

2022 recap

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Jones quickly established himself as an important part of the Bears’ offensive line. Jones worked his way up the depth chart during the offseason program and proved himself to be the best option at left tackle. Jones played every snap at left tackle this season, and he was the only player to play every snap on Chicago. Jones struggled against the bull rush, and it’s clear he needs to bulk up and get stronger this offseason. But he was one of the more consistent offensive linemen for the Bears this season.

Jones was Chicago’s second-highest graded offensive player by Pro Football Focus at 75.4, where he earned strong marks both in pass protection (70.5) and run blocking (79.4). Jones was the 12th highest-graded rookie in the entire NFL, which is pretty impressive for a fifth-round draft pick. But is it enough to lock up the starting job again next year?

2023 outlook

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There’s no starting job that’s guaranteed along Chicago’s offensive line in 2023. Even for some of the better linemen like Jones. The offensive line is going to be a top priority for Poles this offseason, and he’s going to take a hard look at those on the roster. Poles has plenty of options to upgrade the offensive line both in free agency and the NFL draft.

But there’s reason to believe Jones will be a part of the plan in 2023, and he’ll have an entire offseason to bulk up and improve. Poles specifically mentioned Jones during his postseason press conference when asked about the future of the offensive line. Poles said he was “proud” of Jones but “he’s got a long ways to go to reach his ceiling.” That certainly sounds like someone who should factor into the plans along the offensive line in 2023 (and beyond). Whether it’s at left tackle or not.

15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022

We’re counting down our 15 Most Impactful Bears of 2022. Check back every day.

15. LT Braxton Jones

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire