With the NFL Draft less than a week away, the WCG crew wanted to fire off a five-part roundtable with some of our draft thoughts. We’ll kick things off in the trenches.
Who is the one offensive lineman you want the Chicago Bears to draft?
Jeff Berckes: I'd really love to see the Bears draft a center from the Big Ten this year. The good news is that there are a lot of them to choose from. The Bears currently own the 53rd pick in the draft, and John Michael Schmitz is rated as the 53rd-ranked prospect on CBS Sports draft rankings and 65th on PFF (so don't tell me it isn't possible). Adding a guy like JMS, who has a high likelihood of stepping in early to take over the pivot, could do wonders to solidify the interior of the offensive line. Yes, most of the focus is on RT, and deservedly so, but addressing the center position with a Day 2 pick has the potential to shore up what has been a significant weakness in Chicago for the next decade.
EJ Snyder: John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota) would be an instant starter at center and likely anchor the OL for the next 6-8 years. Justin Fields would love that kind of stability and experience at the pivot. Schmitz would be a young and talented IOL building block for Chicago.
Sam Householder: Center Joe Tippmann from Wisconsin. Of course, I see the benefits of the number one center prospect that my more esteemed colleagues have mentioned in John Michael Schmitz, but Tippmann is a player that might be more in line with where the Bears are picking in the late second and early third round. But seeing the Bears take a B1G center feels like it would be a great fit.
Ken Mitchell: He's not the first lineman I want to draft (since this is pretty much my Day 3 list), but I sure do think that Wisconsin's Joe Tippmann would look good in Navy & Orange, although I expect him to be up in the second round somewhere so this deviates a bit from my theme. (Editor: Ken is looking at the later rounds for his responses) Perfect scheme fit, a great player, and a 10-year starter kind of a guy.
ECD: Paris Johnson Jr. is the best and most versatile O-lineman to be had in this year's draft class. He also is the perfect fit for the Bears' wide-zone concepts on offense. Ideally, he'll be at RT this year, but he can play LT or even OG. Selecting him would continue the trend of picking up versatile linemen to build with.
Aaron Leming: I'm someone who is completely fine with the Bears taking any of the Top 3 tackles available (Paris Johnson Jr., Darnell Wright, Broderick Jones). If I have to choose just one, I'm taking Johnson Jr. He brings left/right versatility, on top of being able to play both guard and tackle. Yes, some may think I'm also describing Peter Skronski, but length plays a big part here when talking about scheme fit. "PJJ" is someone who has a comfortable enough floor to start on Week 1 but also has enough of a ceiling to hope for a Pro Bowl caliber player in the near future.
Jacob Infante: If the Bears stay put at No. 9, I firmly believe Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) would be the best realistic pick. If they trade down and he's available, they should thank their lucky stars if they can acquire additional draft capital and still draft him. From a positional value perspective, an overall film value perspective, and from a need perspective, PJJ is a slam-dunk pick in Round 1.
Robert Schmitz: I believe that in the NFL, offensive line play is more a measure of the total unit's strength than any one particular player. I also think 5 "pretty good" individual offensive linemen can create a unit greater than the sum of their parts. Given that, I'm comfortable with any of the top 5 options at Offensive Tackle (Johnson, Wright, Jones, Harrison, and even Bergeron), though my personal favorite options have become Darnell Wright and Broderick Jones. I have a soft spot for Oklahoma's Wanya Morris, but he'd be taken much later in the draft... in short, I'm flexible on Offensive Line so long as they add someone relatively high.
Josh Sunderbruch: Darnell Wright. His tape looks solid, he has the endorsement of Will Anderson, and his RAS score is at the top of this OT class. He plays right tackle like a cross between a roadhouse bouncer and a brick wall.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: I'm not completely sold that going offensive tackle would be the best value play with the ninth overall selection, so count me among those that want to see a trade back if possible. That being said, my favorite o-line prospect for the Bears is Tennessee's Wright. This regime seems sold that Braxton Jones is their left tackle for 2023 at least, so right tackle Wright would make for the fewest moving parts up front.
Bill Zimmerman: After looking at the top tackles in this draft, the guy for me is Broderick Jones. I would love to see the Bears move back a few spots and take Jones in the middle of the first round. If the Bears are stuck at nine, I would probably say that Paris Johnson should be the selection because he is the safer pick with a higher floor, but Jones to me is a moldable piece of clay that’s already flashed serious talent at the tackle position that could be the type of player that’s protecting Justin Fields for the rest of his career.
Patti Curl: Old Dominion Tackle and projected day-3 pick Nick Saldiveri recently dominated multiple offensive linemen in an eating contest, including potential top-10 pick Peter Skoronski. Saldiveri gained 10 pounds at a single all-you-can-eat buffet, and he has the mobility the Bears want, promising technique for a small school prospect, and the ability to add 30 pounds a day, assuming he can repeat his performance with the other two meals. I won't be surprised if he's gone by the Bears' 1st pick on day three. But if he's there, he'll make a lot of sense as quality depth with starter potential. If the Bears are willing to take another swing at an Old Dominion lineman, it will make sense for them to draft an offensive lineman to play offensive line this time.
Now it's your turn, who is the one offensive lineman you want the Bears to draft?