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Chicago Bears Training Camp: Gervon Dexter shining, Zacch Pickens quiet

Gervon Dexter is starting to turn some heads, but still not much of an impact from Zaach Pickens.

Chicago Bears Offseason Workout Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Fans initially got excited when the Chicago Bears spent two day-two picks on Florida DT Gervon Dexter and South Carolina DT Zacch Pickens.

But in the days after the draft, Dexter received a lot of criticism from both the traditional and online media about his slow first step and his pad level. Pickens did not receive the same level of criticism.

Matt Eberflus said he wasn’t worried about either of those items and pointed towards Florida’s read-and-react defensive scheme as the reason, but he did comment on it during training camp, saying that both those issues needed improvement from Dexter.

But as training camp continued, Dexter began to impress both Bears players and the local media.

Dexter has been turning heads more and more, and his performance at Thursday’s practice seemed to be his best day yet. Defensive linemen don’t usually step in at the NFL level and dominate, but Dexter is definitely earning playing time. Assuming veterans Andrew Billings and Justin Jones start, it certainly seems like Dexter will see heavy rotation early and often and be in a great position to become a starting defensive tackle on the team in 2024.

Zacch Pickens, however, hasn’t been as noisy in camp.

Early in camp, Pickens was working with the third team, and while he seems to be up with the second team more often now, he also is working at a position none of us expected.

In college, Pickens showed the ability to create internal pressure on passing downs but extraordinarily struggled on running plays. There were times that Pickens was blown back a good three to five yards at the point of attack. Putting that type of player at the One-Tech (nose tackle) is an interesting (confusing?) choice.

Perhaps playing at nose tackle is part of the reason for Pickens’ quiet camp.

Billings will start at 1T for the Bears, and he’s a solid one at that, but who will emerge as his backup? Seventh-round pick Travis Bell? Waiver acquisition Bravvion Roy? Or perhaps Pickens will emerge here?

Regardless of where Pickens ends up, I expected Pickens to see limited snaps as a rookie but be utilized as an internal pass rusher on obvious passing downs. But with the Bears trying him at nose tackle, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Regardless of what Pickens’ role becomes during the regular season, it seems increasingly clear that Dexter is much further ahead of Pickens in terms of being a contributor on Sundays.

Pickens will be an interesting player to watch during preseason games to see how he plays.

What are you expecting from these two rookies this season?