ESPN provides a pick-by-pick analysis of each of the Bears’ selections.
Round 1, No. 10 overall: Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
My take: The Bears chose to pass over Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and traded with the Philadelphia Eagles from No. 9 to No. 10 to get more help to protect quarterback Justin Fields. Wright was the second offensive lineman taken after Paris Johnson Jr. went to Arizona. Being long, lean and fast are the top traits general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus covet in offensive linemen, and the 6-5, 333-pound Wright checks a number of those boxes after running a 5.01 40-yard dash at the combine. This is the second move Chicago made to improve the offensive line this offseason. After addressing the right guard spot with Nate Davis (and as a result moving Teven Jenkins to left guard), finding help at right tackle was the next priority.
The need he fills: Wright was a right tackle for most of his career at Tennessee but has ample experience at left tackle and right guard. The opening at right tackle created by Riley Reiff’s departure is where Wright should be penciled in to start as a rookie. His ability in pass protection is what stood out most to the Bears. “We got a guy who is extremely physical, strong, he’s a really big man,” Bears national scout Sam Summerville said. “The biggest thing is that strength and to hold his ground and move people around at his will.” Wright was successful in doing that in 2022 and finished with the lowest blown block percentage in the SEC (0.7%) and had zero blown blocks on 388 designed rushes in 2022, the second-most plays without a blown run block among FBS offensive linemen.
Ties to the team: The Bears got their first up-close look at Wright during the Senior Bowl, where the Tennessee tackle played for offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s American Squad. Wright met with the Bears at the combine, at his pro day, on a top-30 visit and hosted a private workout with the tackle at Tennessee, where he got an introduction to working with Bears O-line coach Chris Morgan. “He kicked my ass, if we’re being honest,” Wright said of Morgan. “He wanted to see what I was made of. It was hard but I didn’t quit. So, I think he respected that.”
Round 2, No. 53 overall: Gervon Dexter, DL, Florida
My take: Dexter, who made 24 starts in 38 games at Florida, checks all the boxes of the traits Bears coach Matt Eberflus covets with his defensive linemen: Big, long and fast. The 6-foot-6, 310-pound defensive tackle ran a 4.88 second 40-yard dash, the fifth-fastest time among all defensive linemen in attendance at the NFL combine. General manager Ryan Poles decided to stay put in the second round until the Bears got on the clock at No. 53, despite five pass-rushers coming off the board on Friday. In the process, Chicago addressed arguably its biggest hole on defense. .
The need he's helping fill: Eberflus refers to the three-technique position as “the engine that makes everything go” in the Bears defense. That’s where Dexter could be penciled in as an early starter after the lack of production Chicago got from its interior pass rush in 2022, and he can play a multitude of positions from nose tackle to five-technique. Justin Jones, who manned the three-technique spot last season, finished with three sacks, tied for the most by any Bears defensive lineman. Dexter generated 12 pressures out of the three-technique position over the last two seasons, along with six run stops, both of which were among the fifth-most in the SEC during that span.
No. 56 overall: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
My take: Eberflus’ defensive philosophy is rooted in the Tampa-2 system, which makes Stevenson -- a 6-0, 214-pound, physical cornerback -- an ideal fit. Chicago aimed for an upgrade at outside corner and found a player who could contend to start opposite Jaylon Johnson. The Bears' defense allowed 9.7 yards per target to wide receivers in 2022, which was a half-yard worse than any other defense in the league. Getting pass-rush help will undoubtedly aid the back end of the defense, as could Stevenson, who allowed a 17 QBR as the primary defender in coverage over the last two seasons, which ranked 11th among all Power 5 players with a minimum of 500 plays in coverage.
Key stat: Stevenson said he has “no problem” playing off, zone or man coverage and talked with the Bears about all three during his top-30 visit. He limited opposing quarterbacks to a 2.5 QB in 107 snaps playing press-man coverage over the last two seasons, which was the best mark among FBS defenders with at least 50 press-man snaps.
Round 3, No. 64 overall: Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina
My take: The Bears prioritized their interior pass rush on Day 2 by drafting two versatile linemen. Like Dexter, Pickens can play both defensive tackle spots. Pickens played his senior season at 305 pounds, but he dropped down to 291 pounds by the combine where he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash (sixth fastest among defensive tackles). His skills as a pass-rusher need refinement, but his ability and desire to stop the run will be a valuable addition for a Bears defense that allowed 157.3 yards per game (31st) in 2022. “My desire to stop the run, that’s all I care about,” Pickens said.
The need he's helping fill: Both Pickens and Dexter should contend for starting roles and will push Justin Jones and recently signed nose tackle Andrew Billings for early playing time. Pickens played 96% of his defensive snaps as either a defensive tackle or nose tackle during his college career and notched 11.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons when lined up as a defensive tackle.
Round 4, No. 115: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
My take: Bijan Robinson grabbed the spotlight at Texas, but it was Johnson’s leadership and powerful rushing style at 6-foot, 219 pounds that grabbed the Bears' attention. Johnson, who was recruited to Texas as a dual-threat quarterback, converted to running back one week before the 2019 season opener due to injuries in the Longhorns' running back room and went on to rush for at least 400 yards and five rushing touchdowns in each of his four seasons. He showed a willingness to handle a multitude of roles, whether catching passing out of the backfield, setting the tone in pass protection or as a four-phase special teamer. Johnson creates a lot of yards by breaking tackles and averaged 3.96 yards after contact per rush on 93 carries last season. The lack of tread on Johnson after five starts in 47 games at Texas points to his potential in Chicago. “His arrow is trending up,” Bears southwest area scout John Syty said, adding “I have a feeling this guy is going to be with us for a long time.”
Round 4, No. 133 overall (from Philadelphia): Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
My take: Scott’s top-end speed (4.44 40-yard dash) began as a Junior Olympic sprinter in the 400-meter dash and is a big part of his physical makeup. “Speed is my No. 1 [trait], but I like to stress how I get open as well,” Scott said. His success on deep routes (seven touchdowns on post routes since the start of 2021 are tied for most in the FBS) gives quarterback Justin Fields an exciting vertical threat. “He can really take the top off,” Bears area scout Ryan Cavanaugh said. “Justin's going to like throwing to him deep. He does that well. I think he surprises us with route running and quickness and just everything about him.” Scott was a running back in high school before converting to wide receiver, which the Bears believe aids his vision and run after-the-catch ability. A self-described “raw” receiver, Scott knows he needs to fine tune his footwork and route running but believes “the sky is the limit” to what he can do. Scott also brings special team experience as a gunner on punt returns.
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Round 5, No. 148 overall (from New England through Baltimore): Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
My take: The Bears dedicated a lot of resources to their linebacker corps this offseason and add depth with Sewell, the brother of Detroit Lions offensive tackle Penei Sewell. The Oregon linebacker was a two-time Butkus Award semifinalist and could be utilized in several rotational roles in Chicago. While the majority of his snaps (65%) came lined up as an middle linebacker, Sewell also had 500 career snaps at outside linebacker and over 100 as a slot cornerback. He was also productive as a pass rusher for the Ducks with an 18% pressure rate over the past two seasons (11th out of 1,100 FBS players with at least 150 pass rushes). “He’s a good blitzer,” Bears west coast area scout Reese Hicks said. “He’s got a good arsenal of moves. That adds an element that I think we can utilize on our defense.”
Round 5, No. 165 (from New Orleans), Terell Smith, CB, Minnesota
My take: Smith lost his starting role multiple times over his five seasons with the Gophers but won it back as a senior and set career highs in tackles for loss (4.5), sacks (2) and interceptions (2). What he hasn’t shown on-ball production (4 career interceptions) is something the Bears believe he can make up with his over 6-foot, 204-pound frame and traits that make him a fit in a variety of schemes. “When you’ve got somebody with those physical skill sets, they don’t have to be perfect and they can still be right,” Bears co-director of players personnel Trey Koziol said. “The speed, the length, all that stuff is critical in the sense that they can run down field with speed wide receivers, they can come up and support the run, they can get their hands on guys at the line of scrimmage.” Nearly 60% of Smith’s career coverage snaps came in zone coverage. Last season, he allowed 0.7 yards per coverage snap in zone compared to 1.5 yards per coverage snap in man coverage.
Round 7, No. 218 overall (compensatory): Travis Bell, DT, Kennesaw State
My take: Bell is the first Kennesaw State player drafted into the NFL. He tested well at the combine and recorded 30 reps on the bench press along with a 32 ½ inch vertical jump. He’s on the smaller side for someone who could fit best as a backup nose tackle (6-foot, 310 pounds) but collected 24.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 54 career games. Bell is the third defensive tackle prospect taken by the Bears this draft, the second time since 1990 where Chicago selected three DTs in the same draft.
Round 7, No. 258 overall (compensatory): Kendall Williamson, S, Stanford
My take: Williamson has the ideal size and length for a safety (6-foot, 203 pounds) and is the third DB the Bears selected this draft. The Bears lack experience behind Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson in the secondary, where Williamson will try to prove he’s deserving of a roster spot as a backup or practice squad safety.