In case you haven’t noticed, I love the NFL Draft.
Especially for a rebuilding team like the Bears, I view it as a great opportunity to take some serious swings at positions of need. More often than not, it is absolutely crucial to succeed in the draft if a team wants to be a long-term playoff contender.
I’ve done a few mock drafts so far this year, and I even did a 7-round mock draft in my mock offseason article. However, this is the first time I’m using the current draft order at whatever given time I write these mocks. Though 6 games isn’t a perfect representation of how the season will play out, it’s still something worth considering.
As of this writing, the Bears have the No. 11 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. That positioning will likely change in one direction or another. If the season ended today, though, here’s a hypothetical look at how their draft could turn out.
This mock draft was executed using NFL Mock Draft Database’s simulator.
Round 1: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba missing most of the season thus far, Jordan Addison has staked a legitimate claim to be WR1 in this draft.
Addison won the Biletnikoff Award for the best college receiver last year with Pittsburgh, and he has maintained his high level of play at USC. Through 7 games, he has 39 catches, 585 yards and 7 touchdowns. He’s a precise route runner with a diverse packages of releases off the line of scrimmage and good explosiveness out of his breaks. His deep speed allows him to serve as a reliable vertical threat, and his football IQ is apparent in how he exploits soft spots against zone and how he adjusts his stems. He’s a bonafide weapon out wide who would instantly benefit Chicago’s offense.
Round 2: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Jaelyn Duncan’s stock has varied significantly depending on whom you ask. Some have him as a top-5 pick, while others view him as a Day 2 pick. I view him as a fringe first-round prospect, so getting him in Round 2 is very good value.
Duncan is a 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle with great length that benefits him at the point of attack. A four-year starter at the collegiate level, he has tackle-guard versatility and has excelled against some of the Big Ten’s best over the years. He possesses fantastic athleticism, as his initial burst in his kick slide is impressive, as is his straight-line acceleration, lateral agility and overall body control. He has good spatial awareness in pass protection and offers good raw power. Though still developing his hand usage, Duncan projects as a future starter at the NFL level and would be a welcomed addition to Chicago.
Round 3: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
With the long-term status of the Bears, Robert Quinn probably won’t be on the team next year. It might make sense to throw in another insane athlete off the edge if they trade or cut Quinn in the future.
You’re betting on upside with Zach Harrison, as his collegiate production and pad level aren’t quite up to par. However, when you get someone who’s 6-foot-6, 272 pounds and has been clocked as running a 4.47 40-yard dash, you have to take notice. His burst off the snap and speed out in pursuit is remarkable, and his length stands out when looking at his tape. He is flexible turning the corner and has shown promise stacking and shedding blocks in the run game. He’s certainly raw, but Harrison is a toolsy prospect worth taking a chance on.
Round 4: Zacch Pickens, DL, South Carolina
I love the philosophy of betting on tools on Day 3, so adding a high-upside defensive lineman like Zacch Pickens to kick things off seems like an intriguing move to me.
Pickens can take reps all over the defensive line but specializes best as a 3-technique defensive tackle. He’s a thickly-built defender with much longer arms than one would expect for someone who has been speculated as being just 6-foot-2. He offers great quickness off the line of scrimmage, allowing him to create instant penetration in the backfield. More than capable of two-gapping, Pickens plays with a high motor on a consistent basis and is strong enough to eat up gaps against the run. His hand usage is fairly one-dimensional, and his collegiate production is mediocre. However, he has plenty of projectable tools and could be worth taking a shot on.
Round 5: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan
I truthfully don’t think Blake Corum will be available in Round 5. That said, if he falls this far, the Bears should definitely consider pouncing on him.
Corum has been insanely productive in 2022 with 901 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry through his first 7 games. He’s an explosive runner in a vacuum with great short-area burst and a decisive style of running. He processes quickly in between the tackles and brings plenty of creativity with the ball in his hands to the table. Though he’s a short running back at 5-foot-8, he’s densely built at 200 pounds. NFL teams won’t see his long speed and mistake him for Chris Johnson or anything, but Corum is a gifted runner who has dominated college football this year. He and Khalil Herbert could be an effective one-two punch in 2023 if the Bears don’t re-sign David Montgomery.
Round 7: Mark Evans II, OG, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
The last player from Arkansas-Pine Bluff drafted into the NFL was 3-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Terron Armstead in 2013. There’s a strong chance that drought ends with Mark Evans II.
Evans plays left tackle for the Golden Lions but projects best as a guard due to his being 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds. However, he’s a four-year starter who has been a two-time All-SWAC lineman and dominated his competition. He’s an explosive athlete with great burst in his first steps and very good body control blocking on the move. His lateral agility aids help tremendously in pass protection, and he showcases very good bend in his knees to generate leverage with his pads. Evans will likely need to add more lower-body strength, and kicking inside will be a transition for him.
When I watch small-school offensive linemen, I’m instantly encouraged if they perform well against Power 5 competition. Braxton Jones hopped on my radar by playing well against Arizona State, and Evans did the same against Oklahoma State this year. He’s a name to watch.