With two weeks to go until the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s no better time to take our annual swing at predicting how things will go.
The Chicago Bears are currently slated to pick ninth overall after trading down from the No. 1 overall pick. They got back a package that included a 2024 first-round pick as well as stud wide receiver D.J. Moore, an addition his agent (naturally) says the Bears were wise to insist on.
Their free agency haul has also crossed off a few needs or, at the very least, has rearranged just what positions they might prioritize over the Draft’s three days. They feel like a near lock to fortify the trenches in some form or fashion but just which direction they go is still very much up in the air.
That just leaves plenty of wiggle room on this one-shot mock draft.
Bears One-Shot Mock Draft: Chicago Fills Need, Bolsters Backfield Early
Day 1: Attack The Trenches
Round 1, Pick 9: Calijah Kancey
DT – Pitt – 6’1, 291lbs
The Bears buck all conventional hypotheses and go with a player naturally compared to his fellow former Pitt Panther – Super Bowl champion and professional havoc-bringer of the Los Angeles Rams – Aaron Donald.
It’s not just the similar frames or the same college, either. Calijah Kancey earned the comparison through his explosive play on the field.
— Film Collins (@filmcollins01) February 12, 2023
He won’t be a big help against the run – where free-agent acquisition Andrew Billings could pay off. But Kancey racked up 14.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Pitt and had 14.5 tackles for loss in his senior season alone earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as being named a consensus All-American.
There is some concern due to his measurements – smaller frame, short arms, etc.
But Kancey matches his production and tape with the confidence to let his detractors know about both, including possibly how he would feel about being a Bear.
“•Film 99th Percentile
• Production 99th Percentile” https://t.co/zIepc0Vo6i
— Calijah Kancey (@Ckancey8) April 13, 2023
For whatever it is worth, Kancey’s arms measured just two inches shorter than Donald’s.
Even if the Bears don’t like Kancey at No. 9 overall, he could be intriguing as an alternative to Georgia standout Jalen Carter after trading back a few spots.
Safe Pick: Peter Skoronski – T – Northwestern
The versatile Peter Skoroknski would be an easy choice and few people would fault the Bears for making it if he makes it to them at No. 9 overall.
Day 2: Build on Strengths
Round 2, Pick 53: Tyrique Stevenson
CB – Miami – 6’, 198lbs
Cornerback doesn’t jump off the page as a need for the Bears but today’s NFL requires three capable corners to keep up with three-receiver and spread looks. Chicago took Kyler Gordon in the second round of last year’s draft but he was used more as the nickelback before Jaylon Johnson suffered his season-ending injury.
Miami’s Tyrique Stevenson could come in and fill the spot opposite Johnson which was manned by a platoon including Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Jones last season, both of whom allowed completion percentages over 65%.
The stoutly built Stevenson has the traits to hold it down on the outside from Day 1.
Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson in coverage last season:
🟢 79.5 Coverage Grade
🟢 42% Allowed Completion Rate
🟢 8 Forced Incompletions pic.twitter.com/ODIufS3Vah
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 12, 2023
Facing Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings and Christian Watson with the Green Bay Packers – both of whom stand taller than 6’ – locking down the perimeter is paramount.
Interesting Option: Julius Brents – CB – Kansas State
There aren’t many corners built like the 6-foot-3 Julius Brents but that’s why he could make for an under-the-radar choice for many of the same reasons as noted for Stevenson
Round 2, Pick 61: Zach Charbonnet
RB – UCLA – 214lbs
Things get interesting here with the Bears already rostering Khalil Herbert and signing both D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer this offseason, though the latter is more of a special teams contributor.
Former UCLA workhorse Zach Charbonnet offers a combination of traits found in all three but not all in any one of the current Bears.
Slightly shocked I haven't seen more love for Zach Charbonnet over the last few weeks
He creates on his own, albeit not in the same electric way that Gibbs and Spears do, but there are some 'wow' plays with his style pic.twitter.com/2DlzphsoqZ
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 11, 2023
The 6-foot, 214-pounder toted the rock a ton in college – 566 carries – but was productive with over 3300 yards and nearly 40 rushing scores in four seasons split between the University of Michigan and UCLA.
Herbert has averaged 4.9 yards per carry and has one rushing touchdown in three career starts.
Foreman came within 100 yards of his first career 1000-yard season despite only garnering nine starts for the Carolina Panthers last season.
But the former has just two years left on his contract while the latter is on a one-year pact and the Bears have already shown a willingness to allow backs to leave for what they might view as greener pastures. Former bellcow David Montgomery signed a seemingly reasonable deal with the division-rival Detroit Lions just this offseason.
Round 3, Pick 64: Andre Carter II
EDGE – Army – 6’6.5, 256lbs
Perhaps only a situational pass rusher at this point, Andre Carter II’s 6-foot-6 frame and 33-plus-inch arms have the former Black Knight set to become the first player from that branch of the military selected in the first round since 1947.
He had just 3.5 sacks last season as opponents keyed in on him after he recorded 14.5 in a breakout 2021 campaign.
The level of competition that he faced will always be a question.
Army LB and potential 2023 first-round draft pick Andre Carter II explains why he chose Army over other college football programs and when playing in the NFL became a reality. @McClain_on_NFL pic.twitter.com/YLymOmRdkl
— Gallery Sports (@gallerysports) March 1, 2023
But the Bears need pass-rush help in the worst way and Carter could be just the kind of high-upside play to remedy that.
The Big Trade:
As possible as it is that Bears general manager Ryan Poles trades back at some point to pick up additional assets, this could be a prime spot to package up picks some or all of pick Nos. 53, 61, and 64 if a player catches his eye and begins to fall.
Given there was no offensive lineman taken in this mock – a decision made based on the value during mocks on Pro Football Focus and Pro Draft Network – that could be the move.
Would Ohio State’s Dawand Jones or Anton Harris of Oklahoma get them going if they slid?
Day 3 Filled With Fillers And Fliers
Round 4, Pick 103: Wanya Morris
OT – Oklahoma – 6’5, 307lbs
The son of a member of the popular 90s R&B group, Boys II Men, of the same name, Wanya Morris needs to get stronger but is athletic and can play either tackle spot.
Round 4, Pick 133: Kobie Turner
DL – Wake Forest – 6’3, 288lbs
This pick may be overkill. Kobie Turner is similar to Kancey but taller. The Bears could still double-down like in 2004 when they took Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson.
Round 5, Pick 136: Juice Scruggs
C – Penn State – 6’3, 301lbs
The Bears could play Juice Scruggs behind Cody Whitehair in ‘23 with visions of him battling for a starting spot in ‘24.
Round 5, Pick 148: Brandon Joseph
S – Notre Dame – 6’, 202lbs
Starting Safety Eddie Jackson, like Whitehair, has just one more year on his contract. Anthony Johnson out of Iowa State could also be a good fit.
Round 7, Pick 218: Keytaon Thompson
WR – Virginia – 6’4, 217lbs
A converted quarterback who has lined up wide and in the slot. This pick and the next are possible trade fodder.
Round 7, Pick 258: Durell Nchami
EDGE – Maryland – 6’4, 255lbs
A pass-rusher with good movement skills who has missed time due to injuries.
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