The Bears 2022 season isn’t over yet, but as the new year approaches, it’s time to look ahead to the 2023 NFL draft.
Chicago has plenty of roster holes and luckily has eight picks (perhaps nine with a projected compensatory seventh-round pick), giving them plenty of opportunity to fill gaps with young, cheap players, making them highly valuable.
In preparation for the upcoming draft, we put together a seven-round mock draft. In this version, the Bears draft a generational talent with the No. 2 pick that isn’t named Will Anderson Jr.. In addition, they continue to fill gaps at OL, WR, LB, CB, RB, and EDGE.
Round 1, Pick 2: DL Jalen Carter, Georgia
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If the engine for the Bears defense is three-technique, then Carter is the perfect pick at No. 2. Very few teams in the NFL can generate pressure and disrupt the pocket from the inside, making players like Chris Jones, Aaron Donald, and Fletcher Cox, highly valuable.
By drafting Carter, the Bears would get a defensive tackle with elite run-stopping and pass-rushing ability from the inside. With a player like Carter, defensive ends, Domonique Robinson and Al-Quadin Muhammad will get to the quarterback easier as offenses focus on the star rookie on the interior.
Round 2, Pick 57: OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee
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Wright is a perfect size for a left tackle at 6-foot-5, 347 pounds, and with 33.7″ arms, but he did his best work in 2022 at right tackle. In the game against Alabama, the All-SEC First Team right tackle held superstar prospect Will Anderson to three tackles, zero sacks, and only half a tackle for loss.
As a member of the Volunteers, Wright played in 46 games, starting 41 (26 at right tackle, 13 at left tackle, and two at right guard). He went 18 straight games as a right tackle without allowing a sack. Wright was also a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award – given to college football’s best offensive lineman.
Round 3, Pick 66: WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU
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Assuming the LSU wide receiver stays in the NFL draft, Boutte can play inside and outside. At 6-feet, 185 pounds, he’s not large, but he is well-built and plays with strength and toughness. With the ball in his hands, Boutte always fights for extra yardage and can be a game-breaker.
Boutte was initially projected to be a first-round pick but after a drama-filled 2022 season. In addition, after an ankle injury ended his 2021 season, there will be concerns about durability, and it’s uncertain where he’ll get drafted.
Round 4, Pick 104: LB DeMarvion Overshown, Texas
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A converted safety, Overshown has the skill set to defend the run and the pass. At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, he’s a modern “box safety,” aka linebacker, with the size and speed to run sideline to sideline and deliver violent hits to ballcarriers.
Head coach Matt Eberflus has shown a preference for more undersized, quicker linebackers and with Overshown rumored to run 4.5 or better, he should fit the Bears attacking scheme.
Round 4, Pick 134: CB Jakorian Bennett, Maryland
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The Maryland cornerback has worn many hats for the Terps’ defense. Bennett has played cornerback, safety, and nickel, giving him the versatility to find playing time immediately on the Bears.
The two-time Honorable Mention All-Big Ten corner can also be set to the field and hold his own due to his tremendous speed and quickness. By adding Bennett to the secondary, the Bears can find a third corner who can play alongside Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon.
Round 5, Pick 138: RB Eric Gray, Oklahoma
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Gray is a prototypical zone scheme running back. He has excellent vision and knows how to create running lanes. He finished his senior year with 1,366 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
The former Oklahoma running back is also a receiving threat out of the backfield, with 99 receptions and 827 yards in his college career.
Round 5, Pick 153: OT Ryan Hayes, Michigan
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A converted tight end, Hayes is a developmental prospect that could become a starting NFL left tackle. He’s 6-foot-6, 307 pounds with long arms, and has mauler tendencies that GM Ryan Poles and fans love to see on film.
Hayes played in 39 games for the Wolverines, with 28 starts at left tackle. He’s a two-time All-Big Ten selection and was a member of two Joe Moore (best OL) winning offensive lines, the first back-to-back winners in history.
Round 7, Pick 220: EDGE Ali Gaye, LSU
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Gaye is a great developmental player for the Bears. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, he’s a stout edge player with a great bull rush. In addition, his size and strength against the run would make Gaye a great situational run-stopper.
The LSU prospect hasn’t had much production as a pass rusher (6.5 career sacks), but he has the size and athleticism to become a contributor on the defensive line.
Round 7, Pick 259*: WR Jadon Haselwood, Arkansas
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Haselwood was a top recruit in high school, but with limited opportunities at Oklahoma, he transferred to Arkansas and had his best season with 59 receptions, 702 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. However, with a torn ACL in 2020 and only one season of more than 40 receptions and 400+ yards, Haselwood is worth taking a late flier on.