With training camp right around the corner, anticipation to see the Chicago Bears step onto the field publicly in any capacity is growing by the day.
Among those taking the field for the Bears will be their 10 draft picks, who will be entering NFL training camp for the first time. As an easy way to look at what to expect from each draft pick this year, I put together in-depth yet digestible scouting reports on each rookie and what their roles are expected to be in the upcoming season.
OT Darnell Wright
Scouting report: Wright is a fantastic run blocker who plays with a nasty demeanor and tremendous grip strength at the point of attack. He does a great job of generating power out of his lower half, winning often in the leverage battle and maximizing his strong frame. For such a big blocker, he bursts well off the line of scrimmage in pass protection, too. He can strike too wide at times and can struggle with changing direction in pass pro sometimes, but he’s generally a polished and powerful blocker who should provide an upgrade for the Bears at right tackle.
2023 role: Wright is the presumed starting right tackle for the Bears. Barring injury or any unforeseen circumstances, it would be shocking to see him removed from the starting lineup.
DT Gervon Dexter
Scouting report: Dexter was one of the better interior run defenders in the 2023 draft. He has impressive grip strength and a strong anchor, as well as very good situational awareness against the run. He lands his strikes well and has a nice arsenal of hand techniques to stack and shed blocks. Some believe his first step is slow, but that’s because he was coached to take a horizontal first step off the line of scrimmage to read the center’s movements instead of shooting upfield. A lot of colleges do that, and it masked just how good of an athlete he actually is. Pad level is an issue for him, and he doesn’t enter the league with a lot of collegiate sack production, but the physical upside is very high.
2023 role: Dexter projects best as a 1-technique defensive tackle, which is where he will likely take a majority of reps. That said, he may rotate in as a 3-technique from time to time. He might start off the year in a rotational role but step into more of a full-time starting role down the line.
CB Tyrique Stevenson
Scouting report: Stevenson’s physicality and patience are big aspects of his game, especially in man coverage. He maintains good footwork and hand usage through a receiver’s stems, and he’s combative and strong at the catch point. He is a sound processor who works off rub routes well and times his jumps on routes effectively, and he’s also a willing and capable run defender. Though he took a big step in terms of athleticism in 2022, he’s still a bit high in the hips sometimes. If he can continue to improve athletically, he should be a rock-solid starting cornerback for some time.
2023 role: Stevenson will likely start as an outside cornerback right away for the Bears. Seeing as though Jaylon Johnson plays best on the boundary, the rookie will likely play the field to start off his NFL career.
DT Zacch Pickens
Scouting report: Pickens brings great length and athleticism to the table, so he fits the physical mold of a Matt Eberflus 3-technique defensive tackle very well. He bursts well off the snap and has a strong anchor that allows him to stand his ground to eat up gaps against the run. Pad level and inconsistent hand technique stand out as weaknesses of Pickens’ game but the physical upside is apparent whenever you watch him on film.
2023 role: Though Pickens has impressive athletic tools, he’s still a bit raw as a technician. He will likely start the year off as the backup 3-technique defensive tackle to Justin Jones, rotating in from time to time. There’s a chance he takes over as a full-time starter, but expect more of a rotational situation for him early on.
RB Roschon Johnson
Scouting report: Roschon is a bigger back, but he accelerates well initially out of the backfield to explode through open running lanes. He has smooth hands out of the backfield, and he’s a very good blocker, so he should be able to contribute on passing downs pretty quickly. He’s also a tenacious runner with a determined mindset, plenty of raw power and impressive contact balance. Though he won’t mistake anyone for an elite-level athlete in space, he’s a tough runner with good quickness and vision in between the tackles.
2023 role: There are talks of Johnson eventually taking over as the RB1 in Chicago’s backfield. While this is certainly possible based off of his collegiate tape, expect him to ease into the offense slowly to start. He’ll get a handful of carries in opening weeks with the chance to take over a larger portion of touches late in the season.
WR Tyler Scott
Scouting report: Scott is a speed receiver who can stretch the field with how well he accelerates off the snap. He’s a crisp route runner who can stop on a dime, and he also understands the concept of route leverage well, adjusting his stems to attack a defensive back’s blind spots. He can play as a field-side ‘Z’ or a ‘Y’ in the slot. Size and physicality are deficiencies for him, but as long as the Bears play to his strengths and don’t use him like a big-bodied possession receiver that he isn’t, he should be just fine.
2023 role: Scott is a very talented wide receiver, but with DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool on the roster, the Bears’ starting lineup appears set at the position. I’d expect double-digit catches out of him simply because of his speed and big-play value, but he’s more of a long-term selection. His role in 2023 might not be a massive one.
LB Noah Sewell
Scouting report: Sewell plays with a high motor and very good play strength, which makes him a valuable tackler in the box. His size and willingness to bury guys into the dirt assist him in this regard. He’s a hard hitter with very good straight-line speed, and though he looked less agile in 2022, his agility for a bigger linebacker looked impressive in 2021. If he can regain that level of mobility and improve as a processor, the ceiling is high for him at the NFL level.
2023 role: Sewell projects as the top backup linebacker on the Bears’ roster. Jack Sanborn will presumably take on the role as the SAM linebacker, but the rookie may push him a bit for that role. Ultimately, expect to see Sewell make most of his impact on special teams in Year 1.
CB Terell Smith
Scouting report: Smith excels on the boundary, where he puts his physicality and length to good use. He’s a scrappy defensive back with an aggressive mentality at the catch point. Though he’s a bigger cornerback, he possesses good deep speed and offers nice vertical quickness shooting upfield out of his backpedal. He also has nice ball-tracking skills and is a pretty solid tackler. Sharpness in his lateral movements is a weakness, along with consistent processing when he isn’t stuck directly on a man in quick-jam press.
2023 role: Smith seems like a safe bet to make the active roster, but it will be difficult to unseat any of Stevenson, Johnson or Kyler Gordon in the starting lineup. Seeing as though he’s still a bit raw, he’s probably better suited to backup Johnson along the boundary with a special teams emphasis.
DT Travis Bell
Scouting report: Bell is an explosive defender with a quick first step and nice closing speed. He’s shown some significant flashes as a pass rusher, thanks largely in part due to this athleticism and a red-hot motor. He’s a shorter defensive tackle, but he makes the most of it by emphasizing the leverage battle and maintaining ideal weight distribution at the point of attack. Size, technical refinement and a larger uptick in competition stand out as his biggest hurdles.
2023 role: Bell will push for a spot on the active roster, but playing time will likely be hard to come by for him as a seventh-round rookie from an FCS school. If he makes the team, he’ll likely be inactive on gameday without injuries ahead of him on the depth chart, but the practice squad might be more likely in Year 1.
S Kendall Williamson
Scouting report: Williamson is a hard-hitting safety whose value will come heavily in run support and special teams, as he isn’t afraid of contact and lowering the boom. He’s an intelligent processor in coverage whose straight-line speed helps him in downhill coverage. That said, he won’t bring much in terms of ball production and can struggle with agility covering deep quarters of the field.
2023 role: Luckily for Williamson, the Bears’ safety room runs thin after starters Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker. He has a chance to make the team as a backup and a special teamer, and with a lack of proven veteran depth at the position, I’d say he has a solid chance of making the team in 2023.