The Chicago Bears 2022 draft class was never likely to get much national attention. That tends to happen when a team has no 1st round pick. GM Ryan Poles faced a dilemma from the moment he took over. Having no 1st was one thing, but he also only had five picks total. That wasn’t going to fly, not if he wanted to overhaul the roster to fit his vision. So he made the tough judgment call to trade Khalil Mack in March, securing an extra 2nd rounder.
Together with three other trades during the draft itself, the Bears ended up with 11 picks when the dust finally settled. In the absence of high-quality selections, Poles opted for a quantity approach. While many experts shrugged their shoulders at the class as little more than a series of dice rolls, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN was hearing considerably more encouraging things. There is a lot of buzz surrounding two specific picks on the defensive side.
New Bears general manager Ryan Poles’ first pick was a good one. Multiple scouts said Kyler Gordon (No. 39 overall) was their favorite cornerback in the draft due to his competitive nature and versatility, along with the ability to play in the slot or on the outside.
“Both of those [University of] washington corners [Gordon and Trent McDuffie] will play for a long time and have a chance to be Pro Bowl-type players,” an AFC scout said. “Gordon is one of my favorite players in the draft. I think he was undersold in the process.”
Fifth-round pass-rusher Dominique Robinson also was listed by multiple scouts pre-draft as a late-round sleeper. Keep an eye on him.
The tangible excitement around Gordon was evident at Halas Hall.
One scout even admitted the team was thrilled when the cornerback ran a disappointing 4.52 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. It meant there was a higher chance of him falling to them in the 2nd round. They weren’t worried about the time, convinced his speed was plentiful enough based on his game tape. Never mind his fluidity, quickness, and instincts for the position. He embodies everything an NFL corner is supposed to look like.
As for Robinson, it is fair to wonder where he would’ve gone in the draft had he switched to defensive end a year earlier than he did. He was a wide receiver in 2019 and elected to swap positions in 2020. Despite his evident inexperience, he still managed 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss in 15 games. It is scary to think how much better he would’ve become with another year of getting to learn the craft. He’d likely have been long gone by the 5th round.
Chicago Bears’ defense should be well-positioned for the future.
One thing that can’t be argued about this franchise is they have an uncanny knock for building and rebuilding good defenses. Even as older players like Mack, Danny Trevathan, and Akiem Hicks departed, they have young players slotting into place as the next generation. Roquan Smith is already a star. Jaylon Johnson looks like a long-term keeper at cornerback. If Gordon, Robinson, and Jaquan Brisker live up to their potential, that gives the team a young core all under the age of 25 to build around.
It would also permit the Chicago Bears to place a much great focus on the offense going into 2023. They’ll have the resources to do so by that point with over $100 million in salary cap space and a 1st round pick. If the team is as bad as many predict it will be this season, that figures to become a top 10 selection.
Putting that aside, it’s nice to hear Poles get favorable feedback.
It sounds like he made smart, calculated decisions with a solid probability of success. He didn’t overextend himself and managed to find value in the draft. This is the first step in the process. Bear fans must be patient.
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