As the kickoff of the 2023 NFL Draft draws closer, the number of mock drafts has proliferated. Experts from across the field have begun to reveal their final (or near-final) projections for how one of the league’s marquee offseason events will unfold. The accuracy of those predictions remains unclear, however.
Several notable draftniks have posted their official mock drafts, including their expectations for the Chicago Bears. Here, we break down what each expert says about the first- and second-round selections.
Kiper/McShay dueling mock: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
Peter King: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Matt Miller: Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa
Ryan Wilson: Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
PFF: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
Adam Caplan: Peter Skoronski, OT/G, Northwestern
Chad Reuter: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The projections fall into one of two categories: “help for Justin Fields” or “high-ceiling pass rusher to reboot the defense.”
In the former group, the Bears find themselves well positioned to take one of the consensus top-2 offensive linemen. To many, Paris Johnson has the higher ceiling of the two at left tackle while Peter Skoronski possesses superior positional versatility. Each would bolster a group that largely struggled to keep the quarterback upright last season. Given the make-or-break nature of 2023 for Fields, few could quibble with Chicago taking either one.
The latter category offers more complications. Back in January, most held up Jalen Carter as the top overall prospect in this rookie class. However, an unnerving legal situation has undercut his draft stock and may result in a tumble. Whether general manager Ryan Poles wants to take such a polarizing gamble with his first career first-rounder — the Bears didn’t pick until the second round last year — remains uncertain. Lukas Van Ness seems safer from an off-the-field standpoint, but he doesn’t appear to offer Carter’s sky-high ceiling.
Kiper/McShay dueling mock: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan; Derick Hall, DE, Auburn
Matt Miller: Keeanu Benton, DT, Wisconsin; Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
Ryan Wilson: Tuli Tuipulotu, EDGE, USC; Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland
Chad Reuter: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse; Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
Even with the addition of D.J. Moore, the Bears could use more help in the receiving corps. Only one of these mock drafts has them adding a pass catcher, underscoring the lack of top-end receiving talent in the rookie class.
If Chicago does take a defensive prospect with its top pick, adding an offensive lineman in the second round makes plenty of sense. Dawand Jones polarized scouts with his decision to skip most of the Senior Bowl practices and limit workouts at the combine and pro day. His massive stature has drawn comparisons to Orlando Brown Jr. and Mekhi Becton in roughly equal measure which captures the delta between his upside and downside. Matthew Bergeron doesn’t come with as many questions, but some teams prefer him at guard.