After a noisy pre-Draft period, which hit its apex when GM RYAN POLES traded the first Pick in the Draft to Carolina for a nice bunch of Picks and the Panthers top receiver in A.J. MOORE. Don’t discount the value of MOORE when discussing this Pick trade. Without an elite QB throwing to him in Carolina MOORE has been a 1,00+-yard receiver in every season except 2022, when a combination of mediocre, at best, QB limited him to 888 yds & 7 TD. He automatically became DA BEARS Receiver1 the day of the trade. After this trade the silly, cheap bar talk of the team possibly moving on from young QB JUSTIN FIELDS died down. So DA BEARS rolled into the 2023 Draft with 10 Picks on their dance card and about twice as many holes to fill on their roster.
Round 1, Pick 10 DARNELL WRIGHT OT Tennessee 6’5/220 PP Rank 21 A bit early, but if he turns into their starting RT for the next 10 years, or more, it’s a great Pick to secure the right side of their OL. WRIGHT got plenty of practice in pass-pro in the VOLS Offensive system, and he thrived. There was plenty of evidence on game film that WRIGHT was the best RT in the elite SEC Conference. He stoned some of the best Edge Rushers in the nation all season. One of his biggest boosters, and rightfully so, has been former NFL Scout, and Senior Bowl Executive Director JIM NAGY. And Mr. Nagy knows his stuff. Solid start to the Draft for DA BEARS.
Round 2, Pick 53 GERVON DEXTER DL Florida 6’6/310 PP Rank 64 Buyer beware on Mr. Dexter. I once had DEXTER in my Top 50, but after watching a bit more game action I pushed him back a tad. I have 2 concerns about his play. He appears a bit stiff and he is challenged at making a quick, smooth change of direction in response to a runner’s cut. He also is a flash player, who takes plays off and disappears at times. The NFL-level athleticism overall is there, and the size is clear to see. But the coaching staff will have to find a way to motivate him to a higher level of play.
Round 2, Pick 56 TYRIQUE STEVENSON CB Miami (F) 6’/200 PP Rank 76 Not quite as large as his school listed him in the game programs, but still nice sized for a CB. He should have a shot at challenging for a starters job as a Rookie. Pre-season work will likely dictate if he can win a starters job right away. But in today’s NFL good, athletic DB will see the field in situational roles at the very least. Long term he should become a starter.
Round 3, Pick 64 ZACCH PICKENS DT South Carolina 6’4/291 PP Rank 81 About a Round too high for me, and I have concerns about his motor, just like DEXTER. PICKENS has been highly regarded for his entire collegiate career, but I have seen games where he dominates, and others where I am not sure when he is on the field. He has lost about 10-15 lbs to get into better condition and improve his playing speed. His 4.89/40-time is solid and I luv his long, 34 3/8″, arms. He should be OK for a DT rotation system, but he is unlikely to dominate an entire game.
Round 4, Pick 115 ROSCHON JOHNSON RB Texas 6’1/220 PP Rank 124 He is still evolving as a RB after coming to Texas as a hot high school QB. He’s best suited as a bulldozing, run you over RB. Should be a very effective short yardage runner. Should make a solid 3rd RB option teamed with FOREMAN & HERBERT for a team that wants to run first, but preferably not so much by their QB this season. Many scouts think JOHNSON will get better as a pro RB.
Round 4, Pick 133 TYLER SCOTT WR Cincinnati 5’10/180 PP Rank 68 I basically had SCOTT and his college teammate TUCKER juxtaposed as to their Draft spots. So in my book DA BEARS got the better value with his Pick. SCOTT was a significant weapon for the Bearcats last season. Not a genuine speedster, but he shows above average explosion and quickness before and after the catch. He caught 54 balls for 899 yards and 9 TD last season, on a QB challenged CINCINNATI offense. Adding he and MOORE to a receivers room that already features MOONEY & CLAYPOOL should mark a serious position group upgrade.
Round 5, Pick 148 NOAH SEWELL LB Oregon 6’1/255 PP Rank 169 This young man, who had started since his freshman season, really saw his Draft stock take a nose dive last season. And his Combine numbers were mediocre almost across the board. Right now he’s a Special Teams guy looking for his correct pro position on Defense. Good genes can’t hurt as his huge brother Penei, is starting at RT for the LIONS. We’ll see what happens here, but count me in as one who still feels they should have paid ROQUAN SMITH to stay in the Windy City.
Round 5 Pick 165 TERRELL SMITH CB Minnesota 6’/205 PP Rank 148 This guy had a solid career for the Gophers showing solid coverage athleticism and good ball skills. He looked solid at the Shrine Bowl venue and really helped his cause to stay in the CB group with good numbers at the Combine, where he ran a 4.41/40 and had a 34″ vertical. Special Teams should be his foundation to play pro football, but if he responds well to coaching he should at least be able to see the playing field in sub-packages. Good pick to my eyes.
Round 7, Pick 218 TRAVIS BELL DT Kennesaw St 6’/310 PP Rank NA Another small school player who I had not scouted or watched at all.
Round 7, Pick 258 KENDALL WILLIAMSON S Stanford 6’/205 PP Rank NA Stanford was a hot mess to watch this past season. WILLIAMSON never stood out to me in limited watches on my part.Has nice size and looks like a football player in uniform. Someone on their scouting staff may have seen enough to pound the table for him this late in the process. One spot away from being Mr. Irrelevant.
I am not overwhelmed overall. I see nice Picks at positions of need, but not a lot of sure fire starting potential. But 5-6 guys might help the cause, and don’t forget the value of Moore in that Pick trade.
Grade: C+ Coulda, shoulda done better. Maybe next Draft, will bring more help.