Reporter NFC North
Welcome to your Chicago Bears draft adventure! In an effort to spark some nostalgia, I’ve created a choose-your-own adventure path for the first round of the draft for Chicago fans. Here’s how it works, if these books were stolen from you in your early years and you still don’t know:
With the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bears have some intriguing options. I’ve provided four, specifically, based on a mock draft. Which path will they choose? It’s up to you! Simply choose your favorite move, then go to the appropriate section to see the implications of your selection for the Bears.
With the ninth overall pick, you’re now on the clock.
Option 1: Draft Peter SkoronskiOT, Northwest
We all know the Bears could use some help on their offensive line and Peter Skoronski shouldn’t be far from being the answer. He could slot in at left tackle, which would move current Bears left tackle Braxton Jones to the right side. Although Jones played every game at left tackle during his rookie season last year, he will need to get stronger and could use a lower-pressure situation to fully acclimate to the NFL game. therefore playing on the right. Skoronski already has the size and strength to hold his own against NFL defenders, short arms be damned. In my conversation with his offensive line coach, it was emphasized that earning your rep as an offensive lineman starts from scratch. Skoronski knows how to keep his influence anchoring his bottom half and should translate well (and immediately) to the league as a starter.
Option 2: Draft Calijah KanceyDT, Pittsburgh
Most of the Bears’ current holes are on defense, which is a bit odd considering Chicago has never been known for offense (and is led by a defensive head coach). Above all, they’re still looking for an athletic, aggressive three-technique defensive tackle who can collapse the pocket and throw the pass from the interior. They signed veteran Rasheem Green, but still need a deeper rotation along the defensive front. Kancey is a disruptive force in the middle, with the strength and quickness to penetrate the backfield and disrupt running plays, even if he’s a bit undersized. Sound like someone else you know from Pitt? It’s unfair to put Aaron Donald’s expectations on him right now, but a top-10 pick wouldn’t be out of the question for the preternaturally athletic linebacker.
Option 3: Draft Devon WitherspoonCB, Illinois
Another major need for the Bears is in the secondary. They have depth needs at every position, especially at outside corner, which is where Witherspoon comes in. With Christian Gonzalez off the board in the mock I ran, Witherspoon is easily the best cornerback prospect (and might even be better). Witherspoon is another semi-local product, which general manager Ryan Poles has gone on record saying he likes when evaluating prospects and pros.
The Poles talked about that as a factor in pursuing TJ Edwards in free agency. The Chicago-area linebacker is now with his boyhood team, helping to bolster the linebacking corps with Tremaine Edmunds and Jack Sanborn. This unit is primarily targeted, but Witherspoon is a talented cornerback with good size and athleticism who has the instincts and ball skills to make big plays in the passing game. This cornerback class is deep, sure, but there seems to be a feeling that a big gap exists between the top two or three cornerback prospects and the rest of the crop. As a result, it would be hard to fault the Bears for addressing this need in the top 10.
Option 4: Trade to the downside
Chicago could also choose to trade down and try to acquire more draft capital for the next few years, something that was vital for the Poles when they traded the first overall pick to the Panthers just a few weeks ago . The Bears could potentially trade up and still get a quality player later in the first round as they still have a lot of needs. The question is whether the Bears are far enough along in the rebuilding process where they now prioritize quality over quantity; a departure from last year’s strategy.
If you picked Peter Skoronski at #9:
The Bears have addressed their offensive line and likely have their starting five. They can also add depth players in the later rounds. However, that means the Bears have missed out on top cornerbacks along with any top prospects on the defensive line. The second round now includes players like USC running back Tuli Tuipulotu, Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson or Houston wide receiver Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell. Your best bet for an immediate starter at defensive tackle is Siaki Ika out of Baylor.
If you picked Calijah Kancey at #9:
Congratulations, you’ve addressed a crucial need for head coach Matt Eberflus’ defense with a Day 1 starter who could have a ton of upside if he lives up to the inevitable expectations placed on him (aka the Bears have the next literal Aaron Donald). ). This will pay off in the long run, but in the immediate future, you have greatly limited your prospects for defensive tackle. All three players mentioned are still available in Tuipulotu, Stevenson and Dell at other positions, but your second-round tackle options now are Cody Mauch out of North Dakota State and Matthew Bergeron out of Syracuse. Or maybe it’s another approach that the Poles have identified that isn’t as hyped by the public. The big issue depends on how much you trust the Poles to identify offensive line talent.
If you picked Devon Witherspoon at #9:
The Bears secondary is now pretty much set. So is his supporting body, as mentioned above. All that’s needed is help on the defensive line and an offensive tackle, the most important thing. We’ve mentioned some prospects who might be available at #53 at those positions, but now you have to choose based on availability and delay responding to another need. So which one are you going to? If you take the Ika, most of these options are available in my simulated scenario in #61, except for one of the tackles. And if you choose Mauch, Ika is still available at 61. Maybe it’s wise to move back to the offensive side of the ball after tackling the secondary with your top pick for the second year in a row.
If you choose to trade down:
The Bears trade with the Washington Commanders in the middle of the first round and acquire an additional second-round pick at No. 47, as well as a 2024 fourth-round pick. They end up drafting Kancey, who is still there in this scenario after all simulated With the 47th pick, the best option is probably Bergeron, with Stevenson, Tuipulotu, Dell and Ika still on the board.
While the reduction scenario seems ideal, just remember: it takes two to tango.
So which path will you choose for the Chicago Bears? Will they draft an offensive lineman, defensive tackle, cornerback or trade? On April 27th we will know if you have chosen correctly.
Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, adding the title of Super Bowl champion (and boat parade participant) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.
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