clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2022 Bears draft outlook: Ranking each position by need

The Bears have plenty of needs heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, but which ones should be prioritized?

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

As free agency slows down and the 2022 NFL Draft approaches ever more, the Bears find themselves in a similar situation to where they were when free agency started.

On the plus side, Ryan Poles didn’t take on any long-term contracts that could come back to bite the Bears when they intend on contending in a few years. However, that also means they didn’t really improve at many positions in free agency. Your appreciation for what the team did may vary, but there’s no denying there are still plenty of needs on their roster.

Chicago now has two second-round picks after trading Khalil Mack, giving them a little more flexibility with their selections. Not having a first-round pick could make it tougher for this year’s rookie class to have a massive impact right out of the gate, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fill up some needs right away.

To give you all of a bit of a rundown on what the Bears may do in the 2022 draft, I decided to rank each position on their roster by need. There were some rankings I struggled with, but I believe the general placement is pretty accurate.

Here are my rankings of every position on the Bears’ roster by need.

14. Kicker

Roster:

  • Cairo Santos

Santos isn’t going anywhere, so it would be a surprise if the Bears used any draft capital on a kicker, especially in a weaker kicking class like this year.

Bears draft targets:

  • Texas K Cameron Dicker (Round 7-UDFA)
  • Oklahoma K Gabe Brkic (Round 7-UDFA)
  • LSU K Cade York (Round 7-UDFA)

13. Long snapper

Roster:

  • Patrick Scales

The Bears brought back Scales for an eighth-straight season, indicating their faith in him, even in a new regime. If they bring any long snapper in, it will likely be as a camp body.

Bears draft targets:

  • Arkansas LS Jordan Silver (Round 7-UDFA)
  • Pittsburgh LS Cal Adomitis (Round 7-UDFA)

12. Quarterback

Roster:

  • Justin Fields
  • Trevor Siemian
  • Nick Foles (trade candidate)
  • Ryan Willis

Fields is the guy in Chicago right now, and the new leadership will give him a fair chance to prove himself as their franchise quarterback. Siemian serves as a solid backup with starting experience, while Foles figures to be a potential trade candidate if the Bears can find a fitting suitor for him. The Bears probably won’t draft a quarterback, but a late Day 3 flier wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world.

Bears draft targets:

  • Western Kentucky QB Bailey Zappe (Round 4-5)
  • Western Michigan QB Kaleb Eleby (Round 5-6)
  • Notre Dame QB Jack Coan (Round 5-6)
  • Brown QB E.J. Perry (Round 6-7)
  • Kansas State Skylar Thompson (Round 7-UDFA)

11. Running back

Roster:

  • David Montgomery
  • Khalil Herbert
  • Darrynton Evans
  • Khari Blasingame (fullback)

The Bears figure to have one of the better running back duos in the NFC with Montgomery and Herbert in the backfield. The former is a practical lock to rush for 1,000 yards if healthy, while the latter showed promise as a rookie. Evans should push for a roster spot in training camp, while Blasingame’s presence indicates more fullback usage could be a possibility. A Day 3 selection could make sense if the Bears want another back to fit into the rotation, but their current group is still a solid one.

Bears draft targets:

  • South Dakota State RB Pierre Strong Jr. (Round 4-5)
  • Missouri RB Tyler Badie (Round 4-5)
  • Iowa RB Tyler Goodson (Round 5-6)
  • USC RB Keontay Ingram (Round 6-7)
  • Rutgers RB Isaih Pacheco (Round 7-UDFA)

10. Edge rusher

Roster:

  • Robert Quinn
  • Trevis Gipson
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad
  • Jeremiah Attaochu
  • Sam Kamara
  • Charles Snowden

The Khalil Mack era in Chicago is no more. The Bears dealt the All-Pro to stock up on draft capital and clear up future cap space, but they still have some solid talent rushing off the edge. Quinn is coming off of a Pro Bowl campaign and a fantastic bounce-back year, while Gipson looked like a more-than-capable starter when Mack got hurt last season. Muhammad is a high-quality rotational piece with experience in Matt Eberflus’ defense, too. The Bears might look for some more depth at edge rusher if they don’t project Kamara or Snowden as well into a 4-3, but they should have a solid pass-rushing rotation, regardless.

Bears draft targets:

  • San Diego State EDGE Cameron Thomas (Round 2-3)
  • Texas A&M EDGE Micheal Clemons (Round 5-6)
  • Coastal Carolina EDGE Jeffrey Gunter (Round 5-6)
  • Minnesota EDGE Esezi Otomewo (Round 5-6)
  • Texas A&M EDGE Tyree Johnson (Round 6-7)

9. Tight end

Roster:

  • Cole Kmet
  • Ryan Griffin
  • Jesper Horsted

Barring an unforeseen massive leap or regression, Kmet is likely to solidify himself this year as a solid tight end with good security blanket value. The Bears brought in a veteran presence in Griffin to a tight end room that needed depth, while Horsted has shown flashes in limited playing time. Tight end won’t be a priority for the team in the draft, but a Day 3 depth addition wouldn’t be a massive shock.

Bears draft targets:

  • Virginia TE Jelani Woods (Round 3-4)
  • Maryland TE Chigoziem Okonkwo (Round 4-5)
  • SMU TE Grant Calcaterra (Round 5-6)
  • San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger (Round 5-6)
  • Pittsburgh TE Lucas Krull (Round 6-7)

8. Punter

Roster:

  • Ryan Winslow

Pat O’Donnell left the Bears after 8 seasons in the Windy City, leaving the team in need of a new punter. They have Winslow as the only punter on the roster, but with his just having 22 career NFL punts, they might want to add competition to the position in camp.

Bears draft targets:

  • San Diego State P Matt Araiza (Round 3-4)
  • Penn State P Jordan Stout (Round 6-7)
  • Georgia P Jake Camarda (Round 6-7)
  • Illinois P Blake Hayes (Round 7-UDFA)
  • USC P Ben Griffiths (Round 7-UDFA)

7. Offensive tackle

Roster:

  • Teven Jenkins
  • Larry Borom
  • Lachavious Simmons
  • Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

There’s a chance the Bears kick one of Jenkins or Borom to guard, but for the time being, we’re assuming both second-year players stay put at their current positions. Borom exceeded expectations as a fifth-round rookie last year, while Jenkins showed serious promise once he came back from injury. Chicago lacks depth at offensive tackle, though, so a draft pick might be brought in to improve up front.

Bears draft targets:

  • Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann (Round 1-2)
  • Washington State OT Abraham Lucas (Round 3-4)
  • Arizona State OT Kellen Diesch (Round 4-5)
  • North Texas OT Matt Waletzko (Round 5-6)
  • San Diego State OT Zachary Thomas (Round 7-UDFA)

6. Linebacker

Roster:

  • Roquan Smith
  • Nicholas Morrow
  • Matthew Adams
  • Caleb Johnson
  • Joe Thomas
  • Noah Dawkins
  • Ledarius Mack

The Bears have a genuine star at linebacker in Smith, but the rest of the group has some question marks. Morrow looked athletic and intelligent with the Raiders when healthy, but he missed the entirety of the 2021 season due to injury. Adams is another Eberflus carryover with serious special teams value, too. Chicago won’t need to use significant value in a SAM linebacker with the big role nickel cornerbacks play for them, but some depth or a long-term developmental piece could be a target for them in the draft.

Bears draft targets:

  • Wyoming LB Chad Muma (Round 2-3)
  • Montana State LB Troy Andersen (Round 2-3)
  • Oklahoma LB Brian Asamoah (Round 3-4)
  • LSU LB Damone Clark (Round 4-5)
  • Nebraska LB JoJo Domann (Round 5-6)

5. Defensive tackle

Roster:

  • Justin Jones
  • Angelo Blackson
  • Khyiris Tonga
  • Mario Edwards Jr.
  • LaCale London
  • Auzoyah Alufohai

The Bears took a big hit when the Larry Ogunjobi signing fell through due to a failed medical, and while their interior defensive line is still a bit of an issue, they aren’t without talent up front. Jones should serve as a solid 3-technique who can stop the run and offers solid first-step quickness. Blackson and Edwards have each showed pass-rushing chops in recent years, while Tonga is an ascending run-stuffer who should still play a role in the defense, even with the shift to a 4-3 base. Defensive line might not be the biggest need for the Bears, but don’t be surprised if they take a lineman if the value is right.

Bears draft targets:

  • Oklahoma DL Perrion Winfrey (Round 1-2)
  • Houston DL Logan Hall (Round 2-3)
  • Tennessee DL Matthew Butler (Round 4-5)
  • Stanford DL Thomas Booker (Round 5-6)
  • Missouri DL Eric Johnson (Round 7-UDFA)

4. Safety

Roster:

  • Eddie Jackson
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson
  • Dane Cruikshank

Jackson isn’t the All-Pro he was a few years ago, but he still offers value shutting down passing opportunities for opposing offenses. Cruikshank is a solid depth addition for the Bears’ safety room, while Houston-Carson has played well in a rotational role and as a special teamer. The players Chicago has at safety are pretty solid, but the issue is that they lack enough players at the position. Expect them to add depth at some point in the 2022 draft.

Bears draft targets:

  • Baylor S Jalen Pitre (Round 2-3)
  • Georgia S Lewis Cine (Round 2-3)
  • Cincinnati S Bryan Cook (Round 3-4)
  • Florida A&M S Markquese Bell (Round 5-6)
  • Miami (FL) S Bubba Bolden (Round 6-7)

3. Cornerback

Roster:

  • Jaylon Johnson
  • Tavon Young
  • Thomas Graham Jr.
  • Duke Shelley
  • Kindle Vildor
  • Michael Joseph
  • Lamar Jackson
  • BoPete Keyes

Johnson is the only cornerback on the Bears’ roster with a guaranteed path to a starting spot. The team brought in Young as a low-risk, high-reward signing this week, and if he manages to stay healthy, he could end up being a solid nickelback for their defense. Graham showed promise in limited reps, while Shelley and Vildor had generally rough outings with an increase in playing time in 2021. The Day 2 depth in this year’s cornerback class may not be as strong as previously thought, but there should be chances for the Bears to get better at the position through the draft.

Bears draft targets:

  • Auburn CB Roger McCreary (Round 1-2)
  • Washington CB Kyler Gordon (Round 1-2)
  • UTSA CB Tariq Woolen (Round 3-4)
  • Sam Houston State CB Zyon McCollum (Round 4-5)
  • Nebraska CB Cam Taylor-Britt (Round 4-5)

2. Interior offensive line

Roster:

  • Cody Whitehair
  • Lucas Patrick
  • Dakota Dozier
  • Sam Mustipher
  • Willie Wright
  • Dieter Eiselen

The Bears upgraded at center by signing Patrick, whose veteran presence and experience in Luke Getsy’s scheme should help ease the transition into a new offense. Whitehair has ranged from decent to very good over the course of his NFL career, but his 2021 campaign was a bit disappointing. They shouldn’t look to move on from him right away, but if he doesn’t turn things around in 2022, Chicago may want to consider moving on from him in due time. It would be a surprise if the Week 1 starting right guard was currently on the roster. No matter where they take one, an interior lineman should be a priority in this year’s draft.

Bears draft targets:

  • Tulsa OG Tyler Smith (Round 1-2)
  • Chattanooga OG/C Cole Strange (Round 3-4)
  • LSU OG Ed Ingram (Round 3-4)
  • Memphis OG/C Dylan Parham (Round 3-4)
  • Texas Tech C Dawson Deaton (Round 6-7)

1. Wide receiver

Roster:

  • Darnell Mooney
  • Byron Pringle
  • Equanimeous St. Brown
  • Dazz Newsome
  • Nsimba Webster
  • Isaiah Coulter

Simply put, the Bears have a thin group at wide receiver. Mooney is coming off of a 1,000-yard season and has built rapport with Justin Fields, but he’s the only receiver proven to be a solid starter in the league. Pringle is a solid rotational slot option and St. Brown a big-bodied weapon with experience in Luke Getsy’s scheme, but neither should be considered as long-term fixes as it currently stands. Newsome is the only other receiver with an NFL catch in the regular season. Upgrading at wide receiver must be a priority for Chicago.

Bears draft targets:

  • North Dakota State WR Christian Watson (Round 1-2)
  • Georgia WR George Pickens (Round 1-2)
  • Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore (Round 1-2)
  • Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce (Round 2-3)
  • South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert (Round 3-4)

If you haven’t already, make sure to purchase my 2022 NFL Draft guide on my Patreon! It has my entire big board, a 7-round mock draft, Bears positional outlooks, scouting reports for my top 30 prospects and more.