When the Chicago Bears parted with Ryan Pace after their deflating 6-11 campaign last season, one question on everybody’s mind was how a new General Manager would approach the draft. Ryan Poles said all the right things in the lead up to his first NFL Draft, from praising his scouts’ communication, hammering at sticking to a gameplan, being open to trade back for more picks, and keeping the scouts’ perspectives unique.
Then the draft came, and Poles appears to have actually focused his draft on best player available as opposed to need. Wide receivers available at #48? Let’s grab a safety in Jaquan Brisker who can play all over the field. Offensive linemen available at #148? Let’s trade one day 3 pick for two, then still get an offensive lineman in Braxton Jones and an edge rusher in Dominique Robinson. Valuable pieces for a team that needs to get young in a hurry.
Who won the 2022 NFL draft with regards to the Bears’ selections?
The Chicago Bears
Coming into the draft, the Bears held 6 picks and about 9 open starting positions between offense and defense. They needed more than just depth, so trading back for more picks was unavoidable. Somehow, they managed to find a four-way tie for the most selections with 11, and Ryan Poles gets credit here for getting good value back on his trades. In particular, acquiring two picks from Houston and then trading one of those for two more picks from Cincinnati was impressive.
The Bears will have plenty of new faces next year, that was going to be the case regardless. The so-called “window” that 2018 opened for them to make a playoff run is now firmly shut, and it’s promising that the new faces on the team next year will be rookies rather than veterans.
An up and down rookie year, spot starts due to injury, a stint on injured reserve of his own. Borom’s starting tackle role is anything but secure, but Braxton Jones probably won’t take his job in camp this year. Borom and Jones were both 5th round selections in their respective year. The path to Borom getting phased to a backup or interior offensive line is if Jones takes the starting left tackle role and bumps Teven Jenkins to right tackle. With the Bears waiting until day three to address the offensive line, Borom should be confident in increased playing time this season.
While the Bears were busy on day three of the draft, they were without a day one pick (Justin Fields trade) and stayed put in day two, letting a pair of stud defensive backs fall to them in the second round. An experienced defensive coordinator, Eberflus is stepping into the head coaching role for the Bears during a roster overhaul the Bears haven’t seen since Brian Urlacher was forced into retirement.
Eberflus needed some dudes. Ryan Poles may have ignored a lot of Justin Fields’ needs in the process, but he brought in some dudes on defense.
After Allen Robinson left in free agency, Mooney stepped into the top receiver role for the Bears despite some speculation, the team didn’t trade up into the first round to find a #1 guy. If healthy, look for Mooney to crack 1000 receiving yards this season.
The NFC North, for now...
Trading back so many times, coupled with shipping a future Hall of Famer Khalil Mack off for picks, means the Bears are admitting they aren’t going to contend in the 2022 season. There were moves made that suggest they are ready to go all-in on Justin Fields developing into the franchise quarterback they haven’t had in the Super Bowl era, but the Lions are building something, the Vikings already have built something and just have a Kirk Cousins problem, and there’s another team in Wisconsin which should be dominant as usual in the regular season. They all have to be licking their chops watching the Bears admit futility.
It can be remedied soon, and therefore isn’t an epidemic, but a team’s #1 priority after finding a quarterback to build around needs to be get him a Pro Bowl passing target. The Bears waited until their third pick of this draft to go receiver, after letting Allen Robinson walk in free agency. Darnell Mooney is lot of things: exciting, versatile, fast, clutch. What he isn’t (yet) is terrifying to a defensive back. The Bears sat on a few opportunities to draft a guy who is exactly that, and they also waited until the 5th-round to draft an offensive lineman after a year when Fields and Andy Dalton got hurt.
The Reserve o-linemen
With four day-three draft picks added on the offensive line, the current group of depth pieces on the roster have to be feeling the pressure. GM Ryan Poles is bringing in “his guys” by selecting Braxton Jones, Zachary Thomas, Doug Kramer, and Ja’Tyre Carter, so holdover reserves Dieter Eiselen, Lachavious Simmons, and Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and to a lesser extent vet free agent pickups like Willie Wright and Dakota Dozier, who were always fringe roster guys anyway, all have to be extra ready to compete for a roster spot.
So far Poles has inked a couple UDFA o-linemen too.
When Montgomery went down last season, the fear was the Bears would be struggling to run the ball consistently in his absence. Enter Khalil Herbert, and the Bears were able to easily hand the ball off 20+ times in a game without risking killing their drives. Montgomery’s strong suit has always been his versatility. He can be a ground-and-pound back for the Bears, or he can play receiver out of the backfield as a close-range target.
Now Trestan Ebner comes in with a chance of doing the one thing Montgomery still holds over Herbert: receiving out of the backfield. Ebner might spend his rookie year as third string or possibly even protected on the practice squad, but this does not bode well for Montgomery getting a second contract with the team as he enters his fourth and final season for the Bears.