Scouting reports for Bears 2023 rookie draft class

The Chicago Bears welcomed 10 new rookies to the roster during the 2023 NFL draft, where general manager Ryan Poles addressed some important needs.

That started with right tackle Darnell Wright in the first round and continued on Day 2 with defensive tackles Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, as well as cornerback Tyrique Stevenson.

Chicago also found great value on Day 3 with running back Roschon Johnson, wide receiver Tyler Scott, linebacker Noah Sewell, cornerback Terell Smith, defensive tackle Travis Bell and safety Kendall Williamson.

Here’s a look at scouting reports for each of Chicago’s rookie draft class from our Nate Atkins, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler and’s Lance Zierlein.

OT Darnell Wright, Tennessee (Round 1, Pick 10)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Wright is an excellent fit for the wide zone scheme the Bears are running. He can displace linemen at the point of attack and should be athletic enough to get to linebackers and safeties at the second level. In pass protection, he’s solid when not asked to deal with speed rushers on an island. This means he’s likely playing right tackle. In addition, his lack of lateral quickness makes him a perfect fit for the play-action, RPO-style passing schemes that the Bears run.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A four-year starter at Tennessee, Wright lined up at right tackle in head coach Josh Heupel’s up-tempo, spread offense. After moving to the offensive line as a sophomore in high school, he fell short of expectations his first three years in Knoxville. But everything clicked, especially in pass pro, when he moved to right tackle as a senior (didn’t allow a sack in 2022 and quieted Will Anderson on the Alabama tape). With his extraordinary power and torque, Wright creates a surge in the run game with the physical hands to latch, drive and displace. While he is susceptible to inside rush moves, he reaches his landmarks and stays square as a pass blocker, relying on his length, punch and stout anchor to stalemate rushers. Overall, Wright will get himself into trouble when he sacrifices technique for his nasty demeanor, but he naturally defaults to his raw power and body control to consistently win in both the run and passing game. He is a plug-and-play right tackle, and some teams have him on their draft board as a starting guard.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Right tackle prospect who used his size and power to overcome athletic limitations and spotty technique on the collegiate level. The tape can be a little uneven for Wright with poor block finishes followed up by aggressive pancakes. He played with much better body control and footwork in 2022, though. Wright is capable of staying at right tackle at the next level provided he’s given protection help from time to time. While he was often a positional blocker at Tennessee, he’s a very talented drive blocker when allowed to fire out. There will be inconsistent outings, but Wright should develop into a decent starting tackle with the potential to kick inside if necessary.”

DT Gervon Dexter, Florida (Round 2, Pick 53)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “The Bears need a 1-technique or 3-technique to pair with Justin Jones, who can help stop the run. Chicago’s run defense was the second-worst in the NFL and will improve immediately with Dexter in the middle. While his effort runs hot and cold, he has a rare combination of size, strength, and speed that doesn’t come around often. He’ll become a dominant interior player if he buys into HITS and the Bears system.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A two-year starter at Florida, Dexter was primarily a 3-technique defensive tackle in co-defensive coordinator Sean Spencer’s four-man front, lining up everywhere from nose tackle to head up over the tackle. After giving up football to focus on basketball in middle school, he returned to the sport as a junior in high school and has shown incremental improvements over the last five years. Dexter carries his weight well with impressive foot quickness and pass rush potential, although you wish he had more backfield production to show for it. His impact can be traced to his ability to leverage – he is a very different player when he utilizes his long levers to put blockers on skates as a pass rusher or anchor, stack and work the point in the run game. Dexter must develop a more disciplined approach to turn the flashes into more consistent play, but he is an agile, coordinated big man who has yet to play his best football. He is a traits-based projection who can play up and down the line, which will interest both even and odd fronts.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Dexter is frequently slow off snap, which tends to have a domino effect on both his hands and positioning in a negative way. His size and traits help him make plays even after being blocked early in the rep, but he will need to improve his hand usage as a pro. He’s a limited pass rusher with below average quickness and rush skill but can get there eventually if the play extends. Dexter’s physical profile might be hard for teams to ignore, and he could become a more consistent performer in a 3-4 defense.”

CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (Round 2, Pick 56)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Stevenson is an excellent fit for the Bears’ Cover 2 scheme. Not only is he a high-motor player, but he’s willing to be physical and come up to stop the run. He has high potential if he can become more consistent in his technique.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A two-year starter at Miami, Stevenson was an outside cornerback in former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s man-coverage scheme. After playing the “STAR” nickel position at Georgia (against his wishes), he transferred closer to home to play cornerback and combined for 14 passes defended and three interceptions in two seasons. Stevenson is an above-average size/speed athlete with physical toughness and brash swagger that many coaches covet as foundational traits for their man-cover defenders. He isn’t shy bumping and riding the hip of route runners, but his physical play style leaves him unbalanced mid-route and at the catch point, which will be tougher to hide from officials in the NFL. Overall, Stevenson needs to become more disciplined in coverage and versus the run, but he is a long, rangy corner with the speed and short-area athleticism to stay in phase. He is a press-man corner on the perimeter with NFL starting ability.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Big cornerback with the size and play strength to help match up with bigger receivers in the league. Stevenson is patient but physical in press-man and has good recovery speed when he falls behind. He struggles as a pattern matcher in off-man and had issues with busts in zone, so he might be scheme-dependent. Stevenson is talented when attacking the catch point and has the ball skills to make plays on 50/50 throws. He needs to become more consistent in run support but has the physical attributes to become a starter in a press-man scheme.”

DT Zacch Pickens, South Carolina (Round 3, Pick 64)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “The Bears had one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL last year and allowed the most rushing touchdowns. The combination of Pickens and Gervon Dexter bulk up the middle of the defense by adding two players who can control the line of scrimmage. Pickens is an explosive one-gap run defender and upgrades the interior of the Bears’ defense.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A three-year starter at South Carolina, Pickens lined up primarily near the A-gap in defensive coordinator Clayton White’s even-based front. The third-ranked recruit to ever sign with the Gamecocks (behind Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore), his statistical resume didn’t live up to that hype, but he was a dependable interior lineman the last four seasons. With his initial movements at the snap, Pickens has the quickness to shoot gaps and the strength to control them. While he has pass rush tools, his move transitions and shed skills are underdeveloped. Pickens must continue to hone his hand techniques as a rusher and anchor in the run game, but he plays on his feet with the agility, balance and length to instinctively react to blockers. He projects as a rotational tackle as a rookie with starting upside.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Athletic interior defender with experience and length as a gap-control tackle but the quickness and play traits that might be better-suited to attacking upfield. Pickens has a disruptive first step that creates advantages for him as both a run defender and pass rusher. He plays with harmonious hands and feet to elude blockers or play off them, but he’s likely to get moved around by NFL drive blockers. Pickens has the ability to play both tackle spots in a one-gapping front and has rotational value with the potential to see starter’s reps.”

RB Roschon Johnson, Texas (Round 4, Pick 115)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Bijan Robinson overshadowed Johnson at Texas, who has a high ceiling. But Johnson is a do-it-all player who could become a starter. Johnson is a great fit for the Bears running back committee. He’s a powerful runner who will complement Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman. Johnson can also be relied on in pass protection, something Herbert and Foreman struggle with.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “Primarily a backup at Texas, Johnson was a complimentary back in head coach Steve Sarkisian’s spread RPO offense. A high school quarterback, he moved to running back as a Longhorns freshman and played second fiddle to Bijan Robinson but embraced his role in the program and was a central part of the culture shift under the new coaching staff (Sarkisian: “What this guy brings every single day is pretty incredible. He’s so mature. Unbelievable work ethic. Awesome teammate…he’s got the utmost respect of everybody in our building, that is for sure.”). A stout, good-sized runner, Johnson is a two-way creator with his lateral cuts to elude tacklers and the forward momentum to power through contact. With his football character and ability on special teams and as a blocker, his impact without the football is almost as impressive as his ability with the ball. Overall, Johnson is high-cut and can be inconsistent with his run rhythm, but he is a quick-footed, physical ball carrier with valuable third-down skills as a pass-catcher and blocker. He should immediately upgrade an NFL team’s running back rotation and be a core special teamer.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Power back with bruising frame who fits the football cliche of “tough, smart and dependable.” Johnson isn’t overly creative and lacks the juice to hit quick-closing NFL holes. He needs it blocked up so he can get downhill and uncork his power on the second level. While his lack of suddenness makes him somewhat limited as a runner, he will be better at stuffing blitzers than many of the No. 3 backs currently in the league. Johnson might be fighting off competition every year in camp, but his toughness and four-phase special teams value could give him an advantage.”

WR Tyler Scott, Cincinnati (Round 4, Pick 133)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “An Olympic-level speedster, Scott immediately becomes the fastest wide receiver on the offense and provides a vertical threat that can take the top off defenses. He also has a great opportunity to contribute immediately as a punt and kick returner. He’s still raw as a wide receiver and needs to add size, but he can contribute immediately on special teams.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A two-year starter at Cincinnati, Scott was the X wide receiver (wide side of the field) in former offensive coordinator Gino Guidugli’s spread RPO offense. A high school option running back (he had “maybe 10 catches” in high school), he has been a quick study at his new position and led the Bearcats in receiving in 2022. Ranked top 10 nationally in track in high school, Scott’s explosive speed and sprint training have translated well to the vertical passing game and allow him to catch cornerbacks off balance with speed cuts or nuanced hesitation mid-route (all 14 of his career touchdowns went for 20-plus yards, averaging 44.6 yards per touchdown grab). Though he has promising ball skills, he doesn’t have desired size or play strength for the position, which limits his catch radius at times. Overall, Scott is a work in progress in a few coachable areas, but high-end speed and short-area suddenness allow him to consistently create his own separation. He adds immediate value as a gunner on special teams and has Tyler Lockett upside as a starting NFL receiver.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “While the comparison to T.Y. Hilton might raise some eyebrows, Scott is a similar player in body type, speed and versatility. With just two seasons of starting experience at receiver, his route running and ball skills are almost certain to continue to improve and become less of an issue for him in the future. He has the speed and shiftiness to uncover on all three levels. Also, he offers jet sweep and receiver screen value. A smallish frame and lack of hand strength are likely to continue to plague him on contested catches, though. Scott is an ascending talent whose versatility and playmaking talent create an easily projectable upside as a good starting slot receiver early in his career.”

LB Noah Sewell, Oregon (Round 5, Pick 148)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “A hard-hitting, pass-rushing linebacker, Sewell is elite when asked to play between the tackles. However, he struggles in pass coverage and lacks the range to play in space as required in modern defenses. At Oregon, he wasn’t asked to cover defenders much on passing plays, and right now looks like a two-down linebacker.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A three-year starter at Oregon, Sewell played MIKE linebacker in head coach Dan Lanning’s 3-4 base scheme. He was physically ready for big-time college football the moment he arrived in Eugene and quickly stepped out of his older brother Penei’s shadow, leading the Ducks in tackles as a freshman and sophomore. However, he lacked the same energy and on-field impact as a junior and wasn’t the team’s leading tackler in any game in 2022 (had six games of 10+ tackles in 2021 compared to zero in 2022). Sewell is a thick, powerful backer with the point-of-attack strength to fill, stack and strike. However, his reactionary athleticism and play range are mediocre, and he struggles to consistently stay ahead of both run and pass plays. Overall, Sewell doesn’t have the tape of a modern-day playmaker with clear limitations in man coverage, but he thumps downhill with the physicality, pedigree and competitive spirit to make plays between the tackles. He projects as a rookie backup who can become a valuable role player – off-the-ball on early downs and rushing off the edge on passing downs.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Inside ‘backer possessing throwback demeanor as a physical but limited prospect. Sewell has good power to take on blocks and muddy the middle, but his lack of pursuit speed and change-of-direction quickness prevent him from consistently making the stop. He needs to become more anticipatory and read play development more effectively, as he’s missing the tools necessary to overcome missteps.”

CB Terell Smith, Minnesota (Round 5, Pick 165)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Smith has the physical traits and tools to be an NFL starter, but he needs to clean up his technique and play with more violence in run support. Smith’s size and zone coverage instincts make sense for the Bears’ system. He can press and re-route receivers, but his physicality doesn’t compare to Tyrique Stevenson or Kyler Gordon. He adds depth to Chicago’s defense but shouldn’t be expected to start yet.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: “A three-year starter at Minnesota, Smith was an outside cornerback in defensive coordinator Joe Rossi’s mixed coverage scheme. After making a splash as a true freshman for the Gophers, he was lost in the wilderness for a few years before producing his best season as a senior, leading the team in passes defended. Smith has impressive top-end speed and foot quickness that allows him to stay attached to routes, although his mirror transitions can get clunky at times. His matchup against Charlie Jones on the 2022 Purdue tape was a great example of what he does well and where he still needs to improve. Overall, Smith can be baited off course and leaves too much production on the field, but he has an intriguing blend of length, speed and physicality to match up with NFL receivers on the outside. He is a physical press-man corner prospect.”

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Ascending cornerback with an outstanding combination of size, speed and toughness. Smith’s technique and game film improved from 2021 to 2022. He stays low and patient in his backpedal. He has above-average footwork for a cornerback his size, which allows him to mirror the release and stay connected to the deep route. He’s experienced in playing all forms of coverage, but he’s best from press and off-man. Smith is a reliable tackler with a playing disposition that matches expectations for NFL run support. The on-ball production is a little light, but the traits and talent are in place for a starting role at outside cornerback in the future or a transition to safety.”

DT Travis Bell, Kennesaw State (Round 7, Pick 218)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Bell is an athletic defensive lineman that wins with energy and athleticism. However, he needs to add more mass to control the line of scrimmage at the NFL level. Bell provides depth to the Bears’ defensive line. He’s undersized for a nose tackle but plays with great intensity and passion. He has a knack for making hustle plays and will fit the HITS culture.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: N/A

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Bell is an interior defender with decent lateral quickness and power at the point of attack. He lacks the overall mass and anchor to eat up blocks inside, though. He has enough foot quickness and hand usage to work his way around blockers but might find his success rate plummet against NFL-caliber competition. Bell has traits to get a look as a one-gapping, even-front nose tackle but might need to fight for a spot as an undrafted free agent.”

S Kendall Williamson, Stanford (Round 7, Pick 258)

Nate Atkins’ scouting report: “Williamson is a high-character, high-motor player that is solid in run support but doesn’t have the coverage skills expected from an NFL safety. Culturally, Williamson is a great late-round pick. He will compete in minicamp and possibly training camp on special teams. He’s a high-energy player who will embody the HITS principle, but talent-wise, he seems destined for the practice squad or out of the NFL.”

Dane Brugler’s scouting report: N/A

Lance Zierlein’s scouting report: “Williamson offers good measurables and testing numbers, but he’s lacking in production and consistency. He plays with good route recognition when hovering in off-man coverage, but he might not have the range needed to handle expanded areas of responsibility. He’s willing in run support but overestimates his pursuit speed and misses tackles.”

[lawrence-auto-related count=3 category=417188052]

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire