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Bears LT Braxton Jones dubbed winner of 2023 NFL draft

The Chicago Bears drafted offensive tackle Darnell Wright in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to serve as the final missing piece on the starting offensive line. With the addition of Wright, Braxton Jones will continue to develop at left tackle.

Jones, a fifth-round pick last year, started every game at left tackle as a rookie for the Bears. While he wasn’t without his struggles, he proved to be a solid left tackle.

Heading into this offseason, there was a question about whether Chicago was going to give Jones another year to develop at left tackle. And they seemingly reaffirmed their belief in him when they drafted Wright, the best right tackle in the draft.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell agreed, dubbing Jones a winner following the NFL draft.

Having taken on the left tackle spot after roster shuffling, it seemed likely the Bears would add someone to play the position and move Jones somewhere else along the line. Instead, general manager Ryan Poles used his top pick in this draft on Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright, who broke out as a senior only after moving to the right side. The Bears are expected to keep Wright on that side, which would give Jones another year to prove himself as a left tackle. Given the financial benefits of sticking on that side, landing in Chicago and staving off the competition could be extremely lucrative for him.

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 last 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.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire