It’s the bye week for Bears fans, and given that the only two things I’m good for in this life is mock drafts and mediocre Bears analysis, I figure I’d lean into the former with my favorite team not playing football this week.
At this stage of the year, it’s pretty clear to see which teams will be pushing for a deep playoff run, and which teams are in the running for a top-5 draft pick. The Bears fall into the latter category, as they’re eliminated from playoff contention at 3-10. The idea of tanking is one that many look down upon, but in a sense, Chicago’s losing streak has been beneficial for them.
It’s clear their current roster doesn’t have enough talent to be a serious contender, but they’re playing close in a lot of games, anyway. Justin Fields is improving, and the foundation seems to be getting laid down for future success. With a high draft pick in Round 1 and the most cap space in the NFL, the opportunities to improve are endless this offseason.
I’ve done my fair share of Bears-centric mock drafts so far this year, but I decided now is as good of a time as any to take a league-wide approach. Here is my latest first-round mock for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Note that the Dolphins had to forfeit their first-round pick due to their violations of anti-tampering rules, so there are only 31 first-round selections this year.
1. Houston Texans: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
2. Chicago Bears: Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
I’ll give a quick explanation for the Bears’ pick, since that’s realistically the one you’re most interested in if you’re reading this site!
I had a hard time choosing between Will Anderson and Jalen Carter here. I feel like there’s a good chance that, if faced with a choice between the two, it could genuinely go either way. The importance of the 3-technique defensive tackle in Matt Eberflus’ system, along with how explosive and talented Carter is, would make him a great pick here. However, I opted to go with Anderson, a player who might not be as good of a scheme fit but has the potential to be a perennial All-Pro edge rusher with his absurd athleticism, high motor, developed hand usage and sneaky good power game.
3. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos): Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
5. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints): Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
6. Carolina Panthers: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
I’ll be on the record saying I don’t think Will Levis is a top-10 talent in this class. However, given the absolute state of confusion the Panthers have at quarterback right now, they need to take a shot on somebody. Levis has a very strong arm, above-average mobility and a durable frame; there’s bust potential there, but his upside is quite high.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
9. Indianapolis Colts: Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
11. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Addison, WR, USC
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
13. Houston Texans (via Browns): Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
I had to think pretty hard about this pick. The Texans did just draft Derek Stingley Jr. in 2022, but there’s no such thing as too deep of a secondary. Joey Porter Jr. has shutdown cornerback written all over him and would be a fantastic staple on Houston’s defense.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
15. Detroit Lions: Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
17. New England Patriots: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
One of the storylines I’m most interested in with this 2023 draft class is where Jaxon Smith-Njigba will end up drafted. Though his 2022 season was worrisome between injuries and questionable play, his 2021 campaign was simply absurd. It seems like the Patriots have a wide receiver need every year, and Smith-Njigba would be a massive upgrade to help their offense and see if Mac Jones can really be “the guy”.
18. Washington Commanders: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
20. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
21. Tennessee Titans: Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
22. New York Jets: Brian Branch, S, Alabama
23. New York Giants: Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
My gut tells me that the Giants stick with Daniel Jones at quarterback, and I could see Devon Witherspoon sneak his way into Round 1 when it’s all said and done. He’s an intelligent cornerback with good athleticism, impressive ball skills and seems like a plug-and-play starter at the next level.
25. Baltimore Ravens: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
26. Cincinnati Bengals: O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida
27. Dallas Cowboys: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
30. Buffalo Bills: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
I think Bijan Robinson is an extremely talented running back who deserves to go higher than No. 30, but I couldn’t find a good enough landing spot for him. The teams that pick Nos. 20-29 mostly all have their running back situation figured out, and I can’t see the Chiefs taking a running back in Round 1 just three years after drafting Clyde Edwards-Helaire. If the Bills don’t re-sign Devin Singletary, then a jack-of-all-trades star back like Robinson could help propel their offense even higher.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee