With the NFL Draft fast approaching, Windy City Gridiron had to share some more of our collective draft thoughts, so we decided on a roundtable format to get as many as possible. We kicked things off in the trenches yesterday on offense, and we'll stick with the big fellas today with this topic.
Who is the one defensive lineman you want the Chicago Bears to draft?
Aaron Leming: Adetomiwa Adebawore. I've mocked him in every mock draft I've had so far, and I'll continue to do so in my final version of the 2023 draft season. Granted, when I first started projecting him to the Bears, I had him more in Round 3. "Tomi" is one of those upside picks that may not produce at a Pro Bowl level in his rookie year but has a sky-high ceiling due to his athletic profile and raw tools. Adebawore also brings plenty of position and scheme versatility, which means he could see valuable snaps at both defensive end and the three-technique spot. Overall, versatility and athletic profile appear important to the Bears, and this guy checks all the boxes.
Patti Curl: Edge rusher Byron Young was a no-star recruit who found his way back to football after being recruited by a JUCO flyer while working at a dollar store. His JUCO performance eventually landed him in the SEC, where he led Tennessee in sacks for both of his years in the conference. He's a relentless pass rusher who makes up for what he lacks in run defense with speed, athleticism, and hustle. Poles and Flus will love this guy, and so do I. Just take him at 64 and drop him into the rotation.
Jeff Berckes: Adetomiwa Adebawore, the EDGE from Northwestern. Explosive athlete to fill a huge need in Chicago, sure, but really I just want to hear Lester try and pronounce his name on Bear & Balanced.
Sam Householder: Pitt DT Calijah Kancey. Size and frame questions aside, there's a lot to like about him. He was productive in college and has a lot of great technical traits that may help him transition to the next level and thrive despite being undersized.
Ken Mitchell: Villiami Fehoko, Edge, San Jose State. This dude is a full-on BEAST, great against the run and pass, absolutely DESTROYED my Rainbow Warriors (not that it was that hard to do, Hawai'i was not the best NCAAF club last season). Very athletic. Check him out.
Editor's note: Ken is looking at the later rounds for all his responses.
ECD: I will do all sorts of things if the Bears came away from the draft with Tyree Wilson. Having him at 7-tech defensive end would give Matt Eberflus the best prospect he's ever had to develop at edge. If he's gone before the Bears pick at ninth overall, then Adetomiwa Adebawore is my target to develop at 3-tech DT.
Jacob Infante: Derick Hall (Auburn) is an edge rusher who has piqued my interest as a fit for the Bears. Armed with tremendous arm length (pun intended), impressive first-step explosiveness, good overall play strength and a high motor, he checks a lot of boxes for both what I and Chicago look for in edge rushers. He would be a great addition to a group that desperately needs draft capital investment.
Robert Schmitz: Jalen Carter. If the Bears got the chance to take a chance on someone I think is one of the Top 3 position players in this draft, I think they should take him and worry about Offensive Tackle later. With Carter, talent has never been the question, and us fans can't know his attitude because we haven't spoken to him. If Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus (who famously told his players to "get their track shoes on" in his introductory presser) think Jalen Carter can be a star for them, I'm inclined to trust them. Also, Wisconsin's Keeanu Benton is a stud, and I like Ohio State's Zach Harrison in this defense, but I've run out of sentences, and Lester won't let me write anymore.
Josh Sunderbruch: Zacch Pickens, South Carolina, DT - I think he has all the tools to be a solid rotational player until he gets "NFL strong" and is ready to take over as a reliable starter. He should also be available later on when taking him won't divert resources away from the offense.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: I like several defensive linemen in this draft, but after hearing Taylor Doll's Making Monsters podcast with Georgia Tech play-by-play announcer Andy Demetra glowingly talking about Keion White, I'm sold on White. He's played both inside and on the edge, but at 6'5", 285 pounds, he seems like a perfect three-tech DT fit in Chicago.
Bill Zimmerman: To me, there's only one answer here: Jalen Carter. If Carter is available with the ninth pick, I think he has to be the move for Ryan Poles. Is he a bigger risk than some of the other top prospects? Absolutely. But if he didn't have the off-the-field risks, he wouldn't fall out of the top 4 or 5 and the Bears wouldn't even potentially be able to select him. Yes, the Carter selection could backfire, but he's also the type of talent that, if he matures, the Bears could have an Aaron Donald-like disruptor on their defensive line.
EJ Snyder: Keeanu Benton from Wisconsin would be a lot of fun playing in the Bears scheme that prioritizes quality play from the front 4 on the defense. He’s got great size (6’3”/309) and despite the large frame can beat guards in a flash, and be bearing down on the QB quickly. That kind of interior pressure just destroys what offenses want to do and it’s something the Bears were lacking big-time last season.
Now it's your turn; who is the one defensive lineman you want the Bears to draft?