Bears’ winners and losers following the 2022 NFL draft

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The 2022 NFL draft has come and gone for the Chicago Bears and while they will continue to add talent via undrafted free agents and other players who are available, their draft class is set.

All in all, general manager Ryan Poles made 11 picks, focusing particularly on the secondary and offensive line to hopefully improve the team heading into the 2022 season.

While it’s exciting to look at and react to the players the Bears drafted, how do they impact the rest of the roster? Who on the team is in a better position now that the draft is over and who isn’t?

Here is our list of winners and losers following the 2022 NFL draft.

Winner: S Eddie Jackson

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears bolstered their secondary in a big way last Friday evening when they selected cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker in the second round with the 39th and 48th overall picks, respectively. That could mean good things for one of the notable defensive holdovers from the Ryan Pace era in safety Eddie Jackson.

After a promising start to his career, Jackson has fallen back to earth the last few seasons, but has also dealt with a revolving door at the opposite safety position since Adrian Amos left in free agency following the 2018 season. While players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tashaun Gipson were decent, they didn’t compliment Jackson’s game. With Brisker playing opposite of him, Jackson should see a bounce back season.

It gets even better when you include Gordon to shore up the cornerback position, which was a major weakness in 2021. Jackson will hopefully be able to play a little more free and re-discover some of the magic he had earlier in his career.

Loser: S Eddie Jackson

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

While Jackson can certainly be seen as a winner, he also qualifies as a loser after this draft, as well. The Bears are giving him a fresh start after he struggled to live up to his lucrative contract, mainly because they of the financial aspects. They can’t move on from hin just yet so he’s coming back for at least one more season. But if he struggles, Brisker may go from his running mate to his replacement.

The Penn State playmaker is extremely versatile and can play both inside and outside the box. Should Jackson struggle again, Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus may opt to move on from the former All-Pro after the season and move forward with Brisker as the free safety. A big season awaits Jackson.

Winner: WR Byron Pringle

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Heading into the draft, it felt like it was a “when, not if” scenario when it came to selecting wide receivers. It was seen as a glaring need with just one true proven option at the position in Darnell Mooney. The draft came and went, however, with just one selection. The Bears drafted Tennessee receiver Velus Jones Jr. with their third-round pick, a speedy weapon who can be utilized in multiple positions.

With just one receiver coming off the board, it was good news for Byron Pringle. The free agent acquisition from Kansas City who signed a one-year contract was likely going to play a significant role with the Bears in 2022 anyway, but he’s entering the next phase of offseason activities entrenched as the WR2.

Even with his recent arrest the weekend prior, Pringle appears to be in a solid position with the team. Could that change in the coming months as other veterans could be available? Perhaps, but for now, Pringle is a winner.

Loser: CB Thomas Graham Jr.

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. had a mini breakout over the Bears’ final few games last season when he was called up from the practice squad. The rookie out of Oregon flashed in coverage on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings and showed he perhaps might be the steal of the team’s 2021 draft class. But after seeing the Bears select Gordon, as well as sign free agent Tavon Young, Graham might be once again fighting for playing time.

Gordon can play outside or inside and Young can be one of the better nickel corners in the league when he’s healthy. With Jaylon Johnson already established at the other outside slot, Graham will likely be a reserve player. It would be a major upset to see Graham not make the team in 2022, but his chances of becoming a starter took a significant hit with the selection of Gordon.

Winner: OT Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

There was much discussion around the Bears improving their offensive line in the draft. Depending on the direction they went, that could mean a number of things for second-year tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. After being selected by former general manager Ryan Pace just one year ago, were they already in danger of being replaced? It appears that’s not going to be the case for the time being.

While Poles selected four offensive linemen in the draft, only one of them, Braxton Jones, projects as a tackle. Furthermore, Poles waited until the fifth round to address the position, potentially indicating the team is comfortable with seeing what both sophomores have to offer. Jenkins and Borom had been working as the starting tackles in organized team activities and that likely won’t be changing come training camp.

Loser: QB Justin Fields

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

Nobody expected the Bears to spend all of their draft capital on wide receivers. That would have been certifiably insane. But to accumulate 11 draft picks and use just one on a receiver is a head scratcher. The Bears receiver room was already considered one of the thinnest groups in the league prior to the draft and the player they selected, while extremely talented, is still developing as a pass catcher.

Fields could still ball out with the weapons he has as rookie Velus Jones Jr. might become a very dynamic receiver that can be used all over the football field. But the Bears probably should have taken another shot or two to help their quarterback out, who is already behind the eight ball after having a wasted rookie year playing in Matt Nagy’s offense.

Winner: Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Poles and Eberflus just wrapped up their first draft as general manager and head coach of a professional football team, respectively. Putting aside the football analysis for a second, it was incredibly heartwarming to see how much those moments met to these two men.

Football-wise, Poles was able to turn five draft picks at the beginning of the offseason to 11 when it was all said and done. That’s an impressive feat and gives the Bears more chances to fill the many holes the team currently has. He also stuck to his guns to take the best player available, a trait that was sorely lacking with the last regime. Whether or not this draft pans out for Poles, he stuck to his guns and at the very least gave the Bears more chances.

For Eberflus, he gets two potential day-one starters on his defense in Gordon and Brisker, while also getting players who fit his mentality. He’s looking for guys who won’t loaf, have incredible athletic traits, and can be molded and developed upon entering the league and that describes many of the team’s picks. It feels like he and Poles were aligned with this draft and it’s good to see synergy from a new coach and general manager.

[listicle id=506762]

[listicle id=506779]

1

1