Day one of the NFL Draft for the Chicago Bears was about protecting Justin Fields with the player that Ryan Poles said was their top-rated offensive tackle. Day 2 was all about defense, as the Bears used their three picks between the second and third round on the other side of the ball, addressing key needs in the trenches while adding another playmaker in the secondary.
Bears fans – myself included – had specific names circled for Chicago that Poles and the front office ended up passing on, but the players that were selected certainly offer a world of upside. If anything, it’s safe to say that we are learning more about the type of players that Poles likes to hone in on.
Let’s go through the three selections.
53rd overall: DT Gervon Dexter Sr, Florida
You’ll notice that I included the RAS (Relative Athletic Score) under the name. Why? Because Poles has shown a serious tendency with his first four picks to target players with high athletic ability. Darnell Wright, the offensive tackle that Chicago selected 10th overall, has a RAS of 9.68. Gervon Dexter, an explosive defensive tackle that commands plenty of double teams, also clocked in with a high RAS number of 9.53.
Let’s go back to high school for Dexter. Despite playing only two years of high school football, Dexter was a five-star recruit and the 12th-ranked player in the country due to his natural explosiveness. He flashed at times in college, and according to Poles, that’s good enough. During his press conference tonight, Poles said “for big guys coming up, grade the flashes.”
I’m not going to lie to you – I wanted Adetomiwa Adebawore, but Dexter has a world of upside with great athletic traits. He’s a developmental defensive tackle that Coach Eberflus will attempt to mold into a game-wrecking interior defensive lineman.
56th overall: CB Tyrique Stevenson, Miami
Remember how I said last night that Wright was coached by Eberflus during the Senior Bowl? So was cornerback Tyrique Stevenson. An athletic (shocking, I know) cornerback with great instincts and physicality, Stevenson will have every opportunity to earn a role playing on the outside, which allows Kyler Gordon to play to his strengths at nickel.
Stevenson transferred from Georgia to Miami in 2021, and had two interceptions and seven passes defensed this last season. He has length, physicality, fluidity – he will fit right in with this young, talented secondary.
64th overall: DT Zacch Pickens, South Carolina
Another great athlete, another Senior Bowl standout, another former five-star recruit out of high school, another player with insane flashes that could benefit from being more consistent. Zacch Pickens was the No. 1 recruit in the country out of high school. Literally, Poles has shown that he has a type. Pickens also continues the trend of Bears draft picks providing elite quotes after being selected.
"I get mad and I get aggressive about stopping the run." #Bears DT Zacch Pickens— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) April 29, 2023
New #Bear Zacch Pickens on what his potential is: "If I check all my boxes, and I promise y'all I will, I'm going to be the greatest interior defensive tackle."— Josh Schrock (@Schrock_And_Awe) April 29, 2023
Bears' third-round pick is ready to go.
Athleticism, nastiness, tenacity – it’s apparent that Poles is building this roster the way he wants to, and Bears fans should be thrilled to see that there is an identity taking shape. Pickens is a three technique, which was a glaring hole in this defense that needed to be addressed, and has amazing quickness to blow by offensive linemen.
Pickens and Dexter are both gambles, to be sure, but the Bears are taking the gamble based on culture fit and athletic traits. Now it’s up to the coaches to help these rookies maximize their abilities.
When asked about the athletic traits that the Bears seem to have prioritized this year, Poles said “this is a game for big, fast, strong individuals.” He mentioned that the board can shake out in a variety of ways, but that “It just happened this year where they kinda had all the athletic traits and the size and speed that we’re looking for.”
Two days in the books, four incoming rookies with some serious nastiness and athleticism. Look for those trends to continue on Day 3.