ESPN draft guru Todd McShay dropped his best 2023 NFL draft value picks for all 32 teams this weekend, and he couldn't hold himself to just picking one for the Chicago Bears as he worked in a final paragraph shoutout to GM Ryan Poles and his scouting staff.
Here's what McShay had to say about the Bears.
Zacch Pickens, DT, South Carolina (Round 3, No. 64)
Matt Eberflus’ defense relies on a good, penetrating 3-technique up the middle, and that’s Pickens. We’re talking about a unit that totaled 20 sacks in 2022, last in the NFL. And while Pickens had only 2.5 sacks last season, his explosion, first-step quickness and power suggest he can be more disruptive than his numbers suggest. A great performance at the combine boosted his stock, too. He ran a 4.89-second 40 and jumped 9-foot-8 in the broad jump at 291 pounds. I’d like to see a more diverse pass-rush move arsenal, and he’s still leaving some opportunities to make plays out there, but the potential is really good. That burst and power up the middle will define his pro game.
I will say that the Bears could have addressed the 3-technique spot in Round 1 if they had stayed at No. 9 and taken Jalen Carter. And I’m not sure Chicago needed to pick two defensive tackles — Florida’s Gervon Dexter and Pickens — on Day 2, especially when it scooped up run-stuffer Andrew Billings in free agency. But Pickens is a different kind of player, is a good fit in Chicago and will be key in this defensive scheme. I think he’ll be an impact starter in no time. Getting him in the third round is solid value.
Oh, and shoutout to Chicago for grabbing Texas running back Roschon Johnson in Round 4 and Minnesota cornerback Terell Smith in Round 6. They both have upside.
We learned about Pickens before the draft thanks to Taylor Doll's Making Monsters podcast when she interviewed South Carolina beat writer Alan Cole of Rivals Gamecock. Cole told us that Pickens was a disruptor when asked to penetrate in a one-gap scheme.
After listening to her pod, I looked at some tape of Pickens, and I was hoping he’d land in Chicago somehow. He’ll give the Bears some versatility because he can get reps at the nose too.
Carter at nine will always be brought up when discussing Chicago's 2023 draft class, but Poles was never going to take him there. Bears brass met with Carter a few times in the predraft process, and they determined that Carter wasn't a good fit for their locker room at this time. Carter is going to a perfect situation for him, and if all goes well, he'll thrive in Philadelphia.
And as for the notion that Billings should have prevented them from drafting a couple of defensive tackles early, I have two responses. One, the Bears, like every other team in the NFL, will rotate their front four all game long. And two, Billings is only on a one-year deal. The 2023 NFL Draft is for more than just the 2023 season.
Check out some of our recent Pickens stuff below, and let us know which draft pick you think will provide the biggest value for the Bears.