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2022 NFL Draft: Early needs and prospects Bears could target in Round 2

The Bears have some needs heading into the 2021 season, and these prospects could help fix those needs in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Purdue v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

If all goes well, the Bears will have found their long-awaited franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Trading up to the No. 11 overall pick to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields

Cornerback

If there’s one need that sticks out on paper for the Bears, it’s the cornerback position.

The release of Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller left Chicago with a glaring hole in the secondary alongside Jaylon Johnson. Though the Bears have Desmond Trufant and a host of young late-round draft picks on their roster, the former remains injury-prone and the latter unproven.

The Bears will likely look for a cornerback who specializes more in field-side coverage, seeing as though they have Johnson on the boundary and will likely go cheap in the nickel. Given the importance of the position, it wouldn’t at all be shocking if they chose to add a cornerback with their second-round pick next year.

Draft options:

  • Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU
  • Avery Young, Rutgers
  • Tiawan Mullen, Indiana
  • Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Offensive tackle

The Bears made a long-overdue draft investment at offensive tackle by trading up for Teven Jenkins in Round 2 this year, but that doesn’t mean they should be done upgrading the position.

Jenkins figures to step in as the team’s left tackle and would ideally be a fixture there for years to come, but Chicago lacks a long-term option alongside the Oklahoma State alumnus. Germain Ifedi is on a one-year deal, and even then, a potential upgrade over him should be taken into consideration.

When you’re a team with a young quarterback in tow, you should move mountains to try and give him the most comfortable situation you can. That includes upgrading the offensive line, so drafting another tackle early to help protect Justin Fields could be an intriguing avenue next year.

Draft options:

  • Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
  • Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
  • Rasheed Walker, Penn State

Wide receiver

Of the six wide receivers to catch passes for the Bears in 2020, only two of them are currently under team control beyond this upcoming season.

Allen Robinson is currently on the franchise tag, and while signing him to a contract extension should be the goal, there’s no guarantee that happens yet. Anthony Miller finds himself entering free agency next year and appears unlikely to return as of this writing.

Darnell Mooney is a dynamic, up-and-coming young piece, and rookie Dazz Newsome showed promise at North Carolina. However, with little depth in place and no true long-term No. 3 option at the position, the Bears could look to the 2022 draft to add another talented wide receiver to their offense.

Draft options:

  • David Bell, Purdue
  • Treylon Burks, Arkansas
  • George Pickens, Georgia
  • Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Safety

Ryan Pace hasn’t proven to be one to spend significant draft capital on a safety, but such a situation could arise where he does so in 2022.

Tashaun Gipson is currently signed on another one-year deal and turns 31 in August. While he was a serviceable starter in 2020, he doesn’t project as a long-term piece at strong safety alongside Eddie Jackson. The Bears’ lack of investment at the position since Jackson was drafted in 2017 means they don’t seem to have a succession plan on the roster, either.

The 2022 draft doesn’t seem to be incredibly deep at safety, but there is talent to lack early on Day 2. If the Bears get good enough value, they could have the chance to form a dynamic one-two punch on the back-end of their defense.

Draft options:

  • Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
  • Bubba Bolden, Miami (FL)
  • Jordan Battle, Alabama