All of a sudden, the offensive tackle position has become one of major uncertainty for the Bears.
Trade rumors surrounding 2021 second-round pick Teven Jenkins have thrown a major wrench in the future that many Bears fans had predicted for the team. The addition of Riley Reiff gives them a solid stopgap option at left tackle. Braxton Jones and Larry Borom are two talented, young linemen who could solidify themselves as starting options, but relying heavily on fairly unproven Day 3 picks is a bit risky.
In an ideal situation, Jenkins returns and lives up to his second-round billing, and we can all forget this debacle ever happened. One of Jones or Borom would also prove to be long-term starters in this dream hypothetical. Do not perceive this as “Jenkins is absolutely done and the Bears are screwed”, but rather, “this is a possibility that could happen”.
It’s tough to get an accurate reading at this point, but there’s a chance the Bears target an offensive tackle early in the 2023 NFL Draft. They’re currently on pace to have draft picks in each of the first three rounds for the first time since 2016, giving them multiple options to land top young talent.
In my early preparations for next year’s draft, I’ve been able to identify several intriguing offensive tackles. These 16 players will have a chance to prove themselves as not just future NFL players in the upcoming college football season, but boost their draft stock in the process.
I’ll be breaking up the top offensive tackles into three different tiers. Truthfully, the best value the Bears will likely find would be in Tier 2, assuming they pick fairly early and stay put with their Day 2 selections. However, there’s plenty of talent to choose from later on in the draft.
Here are some of the top offensive tackles the Bears should get to know in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Tier 1: Round 1 options
1. Peter Skoronski, Northwestern
Skoronski has been one of the top offensive tackles in the Power 5 over the last two seasons. Though smaller for his position at 6-foot-3 and 294 pounds, he possesses elite footwork, great body control, a high football IQ and reliable strike placement.
2. Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State
Johnson is the other tackle in the 2023 class in the consensus OT1 running. While Skoronski has the upper hand in terms of situational awareness and pad level, Johnson has a 6-foot-7, 315-pound frame with fantastic athleticism and good play strength.
Tier 2: Day 2 targets
3. Anton Harrison, Oklahoma
A legitimate argument can be made that Harrison is the most athletic offensive lineman in this class (and spoiler: the next two players after him on this list are in that conversation, too). He has good lateral mobility, an impressive first step off the snap and had an 85.6 PFF pass-blocking grade in 2021.
4. Broderick Jones, Georgia
Jones is a former five-star recruit whose ability to block on the move is impressive. His coordination, agility and acceleration are top-notch, as is his hand placement. Though he wasn’t a full-time starter in 2021, the flashes he showed on tape indicate he could be in for a huge year in 2022.
5. Blake Freeland, BYU
He may be a little bit raw from a technical perspective, but Freeland’s physical attributes are no joke. He has a lengthy 6-foot-8, 305-pound frame with quick feet in pass protection and fantastic body control.
6. Darnell Wright, Tennessee
Wright is a thick individual at 6-foot-5 and 347 pounds, and the play strength and tenacity he plays with on tape is every bit as good as one would expect at his playing weight. He may need to lose a little bit of weight to improve his conditioning and lateral quickness, but he’s a mauler with a strong anchor.
7. Cody Mauch, North Dakota State
There are valid concerns with Mauch, who is already 24 years old, plays at the FCS level and is still new to the offensive line. However, he’s an athletic tight end convert with a four-sport background in high school and a nasty demeanor — he’s a ton of fun to watch.
8. Zion Nelson, Miami (FL)
A prospect popular in the draft community since the 2020 season, Nelson made the decision to stay in school and try to propel his stock even further. He has very long limbs, good overall athleticism and above-average situational awareness in both pass protection and as a run blocker.
9. Dawand Jones, Ohio State
If you liked Daniel Faalele this year, odds are you’ll love Jones for a lot of the same reasons. He’s a behemoth at 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds with great play strength and underrated quickness for his size.
Tier 3: Potential risers
10. Carter Warren, Pittsburgh
Warren will be a four-year starter by the time the 2022 season comes to an end. He’s a solid athlete with active hands and solid play strength, and while his center of gravity could stand to get lowered, he’s a well-rounded lineman who could be a solid starter in the league.
11. Jaelyn Duncan, Maryland
Duncan got on my radar last year, as he’s a nimble athlete who can realistically play all five positions along the offensive line. His processor can speed up before he gets to the NFL level, but he combines mobility and raw strength well on tape.
12. Javon Foster, Missouri
Foster excelled in his first season as a starter, and though he’s not the highest-upside guy out there. He had the highest run-blocking grade among all returning SEC tackles, and he has a naturally strong anchor who lands his strikes well.
13. Connor Galvin, Baylor
With a 6-foot-7, 312-pound frame and good raw power with situational awareness as a zone blocker, Galvin isn’t the flashiest lineman out there, but he can certainly get the job done.
14. Trevor Reid, Louisville
I’ve been on the Trevor Reid bandwagon since he was an athletic freak on Bruce Feldman’s annual list in 2020, and it’s finally paying off. He transferred from Georgia Military College incredibly raw, but his athleticism was complemented by improved technique in 2021.
15. Robert Scott Jr., Florida State
I’m not as high on Scott as the draft community right away, as I feel he’s still technically raw with inconsistent situational awareness. However, he has a very high ceiling with long arms and lateral agility in pass protection, which makes him worth taking a shot on developing.
16. Luke Haggard, Indiana
One of my sleepers in the 2023 draft class, Haggard has a 6-foot-7, 303-pound frame with solid athleticism for his size. His pad level can run high at times, but he’s a player to watch heading into the coming season.