If the Chicago Bears stay at the number nine slot in the upcoming NFL Draft, the best players available could be either offensive tackles Paris Johnson Jr. from Ohio State or Georgia's Broderick Jones, or corners Christian Gonzales from Oregon or Illinois Devon Witherspoon. Some may argue that the best player is really Texas tailback Bijan Robinson, but let's be serious, the Bears aren't taking a one-contract player (which most RBs are) with a Top 10 pick.
Another alternative to the Bears is trading down to accumulate more draft capital. I doubt the Bears would want to move very far, but a trade down could either get them another second-round pick or at least give them the ammunition to move higher up in the second round than they currently stand. It's my opinion that the top half of the second round is full of quality players that could step in as instant starters and upgrade the Bears at different positions.
Granted, when a team trades down, they very well could be walking away from one of the above players, but at the same time, they still would have the opportunity to select another very good player, albeit not quite as good as who they could get at nine. When looking at a trade down, you have to look at the total package and not just what the club is giving up. In other words, you have to look at who is selected with the pick acquired from the trade as well as the slightly later first-round pick. More often than not, the package is much better for the team than the single player selected if there was no trade.
With that in mind, the following players could be available if the Bears traded down somewhere between four and seven slots.
Anton Harrison – OT – Oklahoma
Many of you will say Northwestern Peter Skoronski. Skoronski will be a very good NFL player and perhaps a Pro Bowl type player, but it won't be at tackle; it will be as a guard. He is just 6'4 and has 32 ¼" arms, and at present there is not a starting tackle in the League with arms that short. And don't forget, both Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus preach "length." As much as I like Skoronski, he lacks "length."
Anton Harrison just finished his true junior season at Oklahoma. He got significant playtime as a freshman in the Covid shortened 2020 season. In 2021, he started 12 of 13 games at left tackle and played most of the snaps in the game he didn't start. This past season he started all 13 games, with 12 of the starts coming at left tackle and one start at right tackle.
At the Combine last month, Harrison measured 6042 – 315 with 34 1'4" arms. He also ran 4.98 in the 40 being one of the few offensive linemen to break 5.0. He did not bench or do any of the agility drills and will more than likely do those at his Pro Day later this week.
As a player, Harrison is very good. As his tape shows, he is easily an athletic fit to play in the Bears' outside zone scheme. He is often asked to pull, and he shows he can run well, adjust on the move in space, and make a productive block in the open field.
As a run blocker, he comes off the ball very quickly, stays low, and has very good "snap" in his hips on contact. This allows him to generate movement with his blocks. What I like is he never stops his feet. On contact, he keeps moving and always looks to finish. He easily gets out to linebackers and is also good with combo blocks. Harrison has a strong competitive nature, consistently looks to finish blocks, and often runs his opponent into the ground. While he may not be on the same level as Broderick Jones as a run blocker, he isn't far behind.
His athleticism shows in pass pro. He has very good feet to set quickly and stop wide speed. He shows the agility needed to slide and recover back to the inside vs counter moves. Anton plays with very good knee bend, keeps his back straight, and has a strong punch. One area that needs improvement is he occasionally lets his hands get on the outside of the framework of his opponent. That can get a player in trouble with the refs. It's easy to fix with good coaching and repetition. Whether it's a run or pass, Harrison plays a physical game and has an all-out motor. In short, he gets after it.
If the Bears were to draft Harrison, they may keep him at left tackle and then move Braxton Jones over to the right side. That is basically a coaching decision and would be determined during OTAs and early camp.
Keion White – Georgia Tech Defensive Lineman
If there is one player in this Draft that I would love to see as a Chicago Bear, it's Keion White. There is nothing about his game that I don't like. He is a fierce competitor and plays a very physical game. There is never any let-up in his play.
At Georgia Tech he played outside on both the right and left sides. While he could very well line up as a defensive end in the Bears scheme, I feel he has the makings of becoming a terrific 3-Tech.
Many of you will recall that in 2009, when I was Chicago's Scouting Director, we drafted a defensive end from Texas by the name of Henry Melton. Melton played just one season at DE for us before we moved him inside to the 3T. We saw that he had the frame to get bigger and had the explosive first step needed to play the 3T effectively. I see very similar traits in White, and White already has the size to play the 3T.
At Indy, White measured 6050 – 285 with 34" arms. He did not run at the Combine but came back to run a 4.71 at his Pro Day a week ago. At Indy, he did bench (30 reps) and showed his outstanding explosiveness with a vertical jump of 34" and a standing long jump of 9'9".
White is a lean 285 and should easily be able to play at 290 – 295, which is ideal for the 3Tech. When Tommie Harris was here, he played between 285 and 290, while Henry Melton, who has a similar frame as White, played at 290 – 295.
White is strong at the point and never gives ground to blockers. He has quick and violent hands to shed and/or gain ground. The 3Tech has to be a penetrator in order to disrupt the run game, and that is precisely what White does consistently. As a pass rusher, he has the ability to use power off speed to win. He has a very quick first step and very good hand use. With his athleticism, he can quickly redirect his charge and then close on the quarterback. Like in the run game, he is a finisher and goes all out every play. In short, Keion White would be an excellent addition to the Chicago Bears and make the defensive front much better.