Chicago Bears Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington – Round 2
The Bears entered the 2022 NFL Draft with a lot of needs, and general manager Ryan Poles used their two second-round picks to add some building blocks to the secondary. For a lot of the leadup to the 2022 NFL Draft, Kyler Gordon was projected to be a first-round pick, so landing him as the 39th-overall pick was solid value for Chicago.

Gordon is a natural cover corner with speed, quick feet, and agility. He is very fluid and does a nice job of running the route with receivers to prevent them from gaining separation. He keeps receiver from coming open and is quick to recover if they get a step. Gordon has nice hips to turn and run downfield with speed receivers. He has enough twitchy athleticism to break on the ball and drive down hard on wide receivers.

On top of his man-coverage skills, Gordon is a disciplined corner who does not bite on double moves. With eye discipline, Gordon is skilled at reading receivers and not showing vision issues that lead to falling for play fakes. Former Washington head coach Jimmy Lake was a defensive backs coach in the NFL, and he coached up the Huskies defensive backs under him well in terms of good fundamentals and technique.

Gordon flashed some ball skills at times in college. He is skilled at slapping his passes away and times his contact well. In 2021, Gordon flashed being a threat to pick off the passes after not recording a pick in 2020.

Gordon also is a willing run defender who will contribute to the ground defense and tackle. He fights off blocks, fires to the ball, and shows nice tackling technique for an undersized corner.

Gordon slid into the second round because some evaluators felt he was a slot cornerback only. They did not feel he had the ability to line up outside at the pro level. Another reason why he slid was concern about his commitment to football. Some scouts believed Gordon is so focused on competitive dance that he might end his NFL career early to commit to dance full time.

The Bears were in need of starting corner talent to go with Jaylon Johnson, so even if Gordon is a slot corner only, he could be a starter because teams play nickel 70 percent or more on their defensive snaps. As long as Gordon stays focused on football and doesn’t end his career early, he should turn into a solid starter for Chicago.

2021: Teven Jenkins, OT
2020: Cole Kmet, TE
2019: Riley Ridley, WR
2018: James Daniels, C
2017: Eddie Jackson, S
2016: Jonathan Bullard, DE
2015: Eddie Goldman, DT
2014: Kyle Fuller, CB
2013: Jonathan Bostic, LB

Most Likely To Bust

Velus Jones, S, Tennessee – Round 2
The Bears were in dire need of playmakers for second-year quarterback Justin Fields entering the offseason and the 2022 NFL Draft. The receiving room is looking sparse for talent, and adding Jones in the third round may not be much of a boost for Chicago. There is no doubt that Jones is fast, as the blazer put his speed on display at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. The 6-foot, 204-pounder has quality size as well. However, his route-running needs a lot of work for the NFL. At the Senior Bowl in some wet conditions, Jones had some major issues with dropped passes. Perhaps that was a blip, but the drops are alarming especially considering he is going to play in the cold, wintry conditions of Chicago.

Jones might manage to stick in the NFL as a backup receiver and special teams contributor. Third-round picks, however, are graded as players who are “backups to starters.” Jones might not grow beyond being a backup, and that could lead to him not being a good value for a third-round selection.

2021: None
2020: None
2019: David Montgomery, RB
2018: Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB
2017: Mitch Trubisky, QB
2016: Cody Whitehair, G
2015: Hroniss Grasu, C
2014: Ka’Deem Carey, RB
2013: Kyle Long, G

Potential Boom Pick

Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State – Round 2
The Bears had bigger needs on their roster than a safety to pair with Eddie Jackson, but Brisker proved to be too tantalizing for Ryan Poles to pass on with the selection Chicago received for Khalil Mack. Brisker is a versatile safety who possesses excellent instincts, and his hard-hitting ways should make him a good fit with a franchise that has enjoyed some superb safeties, like Gary Fencik and Dave Duerson.

Brisker (6-1, 199) was a tough run defender for Penn State, appearing all over the field. He possesses excellent closing speed and comes downhill quickly to make tackles in run support. Brisker is able to get off blocks and demonstrates impressive tackling technique with hard hits and an ability to wrap up. Thanks to his toughness and tackling skills, Brisker can function as the eighth man in the box. He is a confident and instinctive defender who is a big presence for his defense.

In pass coverage, Brisker shows a lot of ability. He covers a lot of ground and can play deep free safety or as a zone strong safety in the intermediate portion. He reads plays and routes well while staying in good position to cover up receivers. With his speed and athleticism, Brisker has the ability to play man coverage on tight ends as well. Brisker shows range, instincts, and some ball skills to serve at deep free safety.

Brisker could fit a defensive scheme that alternates free and strong safety duties pre-snap. That camoflauges the coverage, makeing it much harder for quarterbacks to diagnosis the field. Brisker has the speed and athleticism to cover in the deep part of the field and the strength to function as a strong safety. He could even serve as a strong safety 100 percent of the time.

After some additional development and experience, Brikse also has the potential to be a free safety. He shows the ability to run with receivers and other targets and prevent separation. In zone coverage, he is very good and has impressive diagnosis skills and instincts.

With Eddie Jackson at free safety, Brisker has a superb running mate to help him and take on more difficult coverage assignments. Brisker has a good skill set, instincts, and playmaking ability. Of Chicago’s selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, Brisker could be the most likely to be a boom pick.

2021: Justin Fields
2020: Jaylon Johnson
2019: None
2018: Roquan Smith, LB
2017: Adam Shaheen, TE
2016: Leonard Floyd, LB
2015: Kevin White, WR
2014: Will Sutton, DT
2013: Khaseem Greene, LB

Future Depth Player

Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah – Round 6
The Bears were in the market for offensive line help, but they did not address it until they took Jones in the fifth round. While Jones may not have the skill set to be a starting tackle in the NFL, he could be a backup swing tackle who provides depth for Chicago. The Bears are set with Teven Jenkins at one tackle spot, but they have a wide-open competition across from him. Jones will get every chance to become a starter, but he is facing a huge jump in competition. After some developmental time, it would not surprise me if Jones settles in as a backup tackle and Chicago adds an early-round pick to go with Jenkins.

2021: Khalil Herbert, RB
2020: Trevis Gipson, DE
2019: Kerrith Whyte, DL
2018: Bilal Nichols, DL
2017: Tarik Cohen, RB
2016: Nick Kwiatkoski, LB
2015: Jeremy Langford, RB
2014: David Fales, QB
2013: Cornelius Washington, DE

Walt’s 2022 NFL Draft Grades:

39. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington – C+ Grade
I’d like Kyler Gordon here if he didn’t have some major character issues. Some teams removed Gordon from their draft board. Gordon will be a good player and fill a big need for the Bears if he stays focused on football, but it’s unclear if that’ll happen.

48. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State – C- Grade
The Bears are setting up Justin Fields for failure by not addressing the receiver position. I like Jaquan Brisker in this range as an instinctive safety, but not finding a receiver may ruin Fields. That will definitely factor into this grade.

71. Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee – B Grade
The Bears finally found some help for Justin Fields! I liked Velus Jones as a third-day sleeper, but not as much in the third round. Still, Jones could end up being a decent No. 2 receiver in the NFL with his great deep speed. Fields should enjoy throwing deep passes to him on the rare occasions in which he has protection in the pocket.

168. Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah – A Grade
I can’t believe it. Did the Bears just provide help for Justin Fields? I never thought they’d do that twice in this draft. Braxton Jones is a much-needed blocker for Chicago’s putrid offensive line, and he could have easily been chosen a round earlier than this.

174. Dominique Robinson, DE/OLB, Miami of Ohio – A Grade
Khalil Mack’s replacement! Dominique Robinson has some huge shoes to fill, but I love this pick. I thought Dominique Robinson could go early on Day 3, so this is great value. Robinson should be able to help with the pass rush because of his relentlessness.

186. Zachary Thomas, OT/G, San Diego State – B Grade
I don’t like this offensive line pick as much as I did the last one Chicago made, but it’s still a solid choice. Zachary Thomas can play both tackle and guard, and his versatility will be key for a team with severe blocking issues.

203. Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor – B Grade
A Tarik Cohen replacement? This is a fine pick. Trestan Ebner is a small back, but he’s a good receiver out of the backfield who runs quickly.

207. Doug Kramer, C, Illinois – C+ Grade
Doug Kramer was a rock-solid center at Illinois. I just didn’t think he had the athleticism to be in the NFL, but perhaps he’ll prove everyone wrong. Kramer could compete for starting action because Chicago’s offensive line is so bad.

226. Ja’Tyre Carter, OT/G, Southern – B+ Grade
Ja’Tyre Carter is a very athletic offensive lineman with nice upside, so I’m a fan of this pick in the final round. The Bears, once again, have major blocking issues, so perhaps Carter can eventually make his way into the starting lineup.

254. Elijah Hicks, S, California – B- Grade
Elijah Hicks was a productive player at California, but he’s a bit undersized, so I didn’t think he’d be drafted. We’re in the compensatory portion of the seventh round though, so this isn’t a big deal.

255. Trenton Gill, P, N.C. State – B Grade
Though punters are demonic abominations, they are worth picking in the seventh round as opposed to the fourth frame. I’m fine with this selection, though it’s not very exciting.

2022 NFL Draft Team Grade: C. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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