Just two years after drafting the explosive Ohio State Quarterback Justin Fields, the Chicago Bears had a rough go-and certainly not the season they had manifested. Earning the top spot in the 2023 NFL Draft is a bittersweet position in which to find yourself and I have to imagine Chi-town diehards are a bit bummed; however, where else can you go from here but up?
The Bears have roughly 98 million in cap space, which is the most in the league by a broad margin. This, coupled with the number one draft spot with QB-hungry teams should be a recipe for a fast and hard rebuild around Fields. Not only can they capitalize on the classic ‘draft and develop’ strategy, but they can also go all-in for key free agent pieces with league experience.
The Chicago Bears Are On The Clock
Round 1, 1st overall: Traded to Indianapolis
I will fall over if this does not materialize around 8pm on April 27th! The details are up for debate, but in this particular draft, I have Chicago receiving a 2023 1st and 2nd and a 2024 1st as well. This seems reasonable as the Colts have a big need for a franchise QB and this class is a great one.
Round 1, 4th overall (via Indianapolis): Jalen Carter, DL – Georgia
Since Chicago needs help in all arenas, they must go with the best available player. Without question, the best defensive player on the back-to-back title winning Georgia team, is Defensive Tackle Jalen Carter. After trading away both Robert Quinn (Philadelphia) and Roquan Smith (Baltimore), the Bulldog standout will be the perfect nucleus of this Chicago defense and is NFL-ready.
Round 2, 35th overall (via Indianapolis): Josh Downs, WR – North Carolina
The dynamic slot receiver will be a fantastic addition to this offense and give Fields an elusive option downfield. The team needs new blood as their Claypool acquisition did not go as planned. Not only is Downs a polished route runner, but leads his counterparts in contested catch percentage (75).
Round 2, 54th overall (via Baltimore): Cody Mauch T – North Dakota State
Justin Fields needs some assistance out there and there are stats to prove this. Fields facing pressure equates to a 61.2 QBR whereas a clean pocket careens him up to 96.2. Mauch’s tantalizing balance of size and agility boasts a worthy second-round pick out of NDSU.
Round 3, 64th overall: Tank Bigsby, RB – Auburn
With an uncertain future in David Montgomery, adding a practical replacement (possibly addition?) is by no means a bad move by the Bears. Bigsby has a great build for the NFL and is able to maneuver multiple schemes. Though he has lacked pass-catching experience at Auburn, his touchdown production and size make him a solid round-three choice.
Round 4, 103rd overall: DJ Johnson, EDGE – Oregon
The pass rusher out of Oregon is actually a former Tight End, so off the bat you can imagine the athleticism that DJ Johnson can bring to the table. Adding another malleable piece to this rebuilding D would have to make the Bears Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams a happy man.
Round 5, 136th overall (via Philadelphia): Anthony Johnson, CB – Virginia
In an effort to address secondary, Anthony Johnson out of UVA would be a great start. The sizeable Cornerback would be ready to match up with some of the leagues bigger wideouts. While aggressive, Johnson plays with good instinct and physicality without being a liability with flags.
Round 5, 149th overall: (via Baltimore): Henry To’o To’o, LB – Alabama
Once again aiding in a rebuilding young defense, Chicago should consider the Linebacker out of Alabama. Boasting impressive speed and blocking, To’o To’o would also help read gap runs. He also can contribute on Special Teams, an area that could also be elevated in 2023.
Round 7, 217th overall: Warren McClendon, T – Georgia
Why not book end this draft by two guys from the reigning champs? This pickup would aid a desperate line in the Windy City. McClendon was a fifth-year Senior who has incredibly refined talents at RT. Working against some familiar names on college football’s biggest stages like Aidan Hutchinson and Will Anderson, both his consistency and NFL pedigree have to pique interest in this budding offense.