2023 NFL mock draft: Bears trade down twice, add elite playmakers

Schrock's Mock Draft 3.0: Bears trade twice, add elite playmakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

INDIANAPOLIS – The 2023 NFL Scouting Combine allowed the top prospects in the upcoming NFL draft to flash their physical skills and give teams some critical one-on-one time to get to know those who might be the future of their franchise.

In the Bears’ case, that included playing putt-putt and darts to gauge competitiveness.

The combine also allowed general manager Ryan Poles to start more serious conversations regarding the No. 1 pick. The buzz around the combine was that the Bears are looking for a first- and second-round pick in this year’s draft and future first-round picks in 2024 and 2025. That is the expected price for the Bears to move out of the top five.

The Bears will leave Indianapolis with a better idea of how they want their draft board to look. Interviews with prospects, an up-close look at their physical talents, and conversations with those around the league have given me a better idea of how the draft might shake out for the Bears.

With the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine in the books, here’s my latest mock draft with the complete first round and all seven rounds for the Bears.

Round 1

Trade! Houston Texans trade No. 2, No. 65 overall, and 2024 first-round pick (via Cleveland) to Bears for No. 1 overall.

1.    Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Trade! Ryan Poles has a desired return in mind for the No. 1 pick. It takes two deals to get to that number, but the Indianapolis Colts’ desire for a quarterback helps fill the Bears’ war chest. Colts send No. 4, No. 35 overall, and a 2024 first-round pick to the Bears for No. 2 overall and a 2024 third-round pick.

2.    Indianapolis Colts: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

Trade! The Arizona Cardinals signaled their interest in trading back at the combine. With Young and Stroud off the board, the Las Vegas Raiders make a big move up to secure the QB of the future. Raiders send No. 7 overall, No. 38 overall, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Cardinals for No. 3 and No. 67.

3.    Las Vegas Raiders: Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

4.    Chicago Bears: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama

Poles probably thinks about trading back again with Will Levis still on the board and the Panthers burning up his phone. But the buzz around Indianapolis is that Anderson wowed everyone, including the Bears, during interviews. Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus can’t let him get away. Eberflus and Poles have both noted the need to add playmakers on both sides of the ball. Anderson has the look of a star on the field and a culture-setter in the locker room.

Trade! The Seahawks are thought to be interested in Richardson. They hoped he would fall to them. But with the Raiders leapfrogging them for the athletic signal-caller, Seattle elects to accept the Panthers’ offer and slide back. Panthers send No. 9, No. 61 overall (via San Francisco), and No. 132 overall (via SF) to Seattle for No. 5 and a 2024 fifth-round pick.

5.    Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
6.    Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
7.    Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

Carter slides a little bit due to questions about his maturity and decision-making in the wake of an arrest warrant for reckless driving and racing. But if no further legal issues arise, his slide isn’t expected to be precipitous. New Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon understands the importance of a dominant interior disruptor, and he gets the best one at No. 7.

8.    Atlanta Falcons: Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
9.    Seattle Seahawks: Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
10.    Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
11.    Tennessee Titans: Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
12.    Houston Texans: Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Texans got their quarterback in Young after a trade-up with the Bears. Now, they get their franchise signal-caller a dynamic receiver to target down the field.

13.    New York Jets: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
14.    New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
15.    Green Bay Packers: Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa

Trade! The Seahawks call the Commanders and offer them the No. 20 overall pick and the No. 132 overall pick they received from Carolina in exchange for the No. 16 pick. Washington agrees, slides back a few slots, and Pete Carroll adds to his defensive line.

16.    Seattle Seahawks: Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
17.    Pittsburgh Steelers: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
18.    Detroit Lions: Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
19.    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
20.    Washington Commanders: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
21.    Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
22.    Baltimore Ravens: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
23.    Minnesota Vikings: Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
24.    Jacksonville Jaguars: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
25.    New York Giants: Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
26.    Dallas Cowboys: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
27.    Buffalo Bills: O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
28.    Cincinnati Bengals: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
29.    New Orleans Saints: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
30.    Philadelphia Eagles: Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
31.    Kansas City Chiefs: B.J. Ojulari, EDGE, LSU

Remainders of Bears’ 2023 draft:

ROUND 2

No. 35 overall (via Indianapolis)

Adetomiwa Adebawore, DL, Northwestern

The Bears already added a franchise edge rusher in Will Anderson, but they need a lot of help on the defensive line. There are questions about Adebawore’s role in the NFL. Will he put on more weight to play inside, or can he play consistently on the edge? He played all across the defensive line at Northwestern and blew scouts away with his athleticism at the combine. Adebawore ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at 282 pounds while clocking a 1.61 10-second split. He’s an explosive athlete who can play inside on early downs and potentially kick outside in obvious passing situations. The Bears’ defensive line gets a lot better with Anderson and Adebawore.

No. 53 overall (via Baltimore)

Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Hyatt didn’t run as fast as some thought at the combine, but the vertical speed is real. That’s something the Bears desperately need if they want to help Fields grow as a passer. After addressing the defensive line with the first two picks, Poles gets a dynamic playmaker for his offense.

ROUND 3

No. 64 overall

Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse

The Bears will have gotten a good read on Bergeron from their time at the Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-5, 318-pound tackle has experience playing on both sides of the line. He has excellent athleticism and versatility, which will appeal to Poles and the Bears. While some think Bergeron will eventually kick inside to guard in the NFL, the Quebec native said he has no doubt he is a left tackle during his availability at the combine.

No. 65 overall (via Houston)

Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama

Ricks was one of the best cornerbacks in college football during his freshman season at LSU. After an injury-plagued sophomore season, he transferred to Alabama. Ricks was sensational when on the field for the Tied. He allowed the lowest completion rate among FBS corners, per Pro Football Focus, and tied for second in yards allowed per coverage snap.

ROUND 4

No. 101 overall

DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

The Bears have a gaping hole at WILL linebacker. Overshown is a converted safety who compares his game to Shaq Leonard. While he needs some work in run defense, his coverage skills, instincts, and athleticism should allow him to match up with tight ends and some slot receivers. If the Bears’ staff can help polish Overshown, he could end up being a draft steal.

No. 131 overall (via Philadelphia)

Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas

Many think Johnson could be one of the big pre-draft risers. Until that rise officially starts, I’m going to plug him in here. Johnson is a hard runner with a 45 percent forced missed tackle rate over the past two seasons. Johnson is an outstanding pass blocker with an above-average ability to make plays as a receiver. He has strength, vision, and balance. If he doesn’t rise, the Bears should pounce on the Texas back in Round 4.

ROUND 5

No. 146 or No. 155 (via Baltimore)

Olu Oluwatimi, IOL, Michigan

Oluwatimi is a four-year starter with a high football IQ. He is a strong pass-blocker best suited for a zone-run scheme since it will allow him to move laterally in the run game. The Bears don’t have a long-term answer at center, and I like what Oluwatimi can bring to their offensive line room.

ROUND 7

No. 197

Ali Gaye, EDGE, LSU

At 6-foot-6, 263 pounds, Gaye has the prototypical length and frame desired in an NFL edge rusher. The effort and traits are there, but Gaye needs work to become an effective rusher at the next level—a good low-risk bet in the final round.

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