2023 NFL Draft: Bears Insider Big Board Top Two Rounds

The NFL Combine has come and gone and all the Pro Days are done. Draft-eligible players have visited front offices, multiple times in some cases, and GMs across the league are finalizing their draft boards. We’re no different here, though admittedly we lack the insight that those who are paid to make decisions do. That’s okay.

Mock drafts are an exercise in folly and are little more than a solitaire version of fantasy football. We’ll do one or two in the coming weeks but don’t take too much stock in our selections. Everything is a crapshoot the minute the first pick is announced. Nevertheless, we’ve ranked our top 64 prospects ahead of those mocks, and they’re here for your perusal and critique.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention that this is not how we project the NFL Draft to play out. Rather, we are ranking players based on potential and impact regardless of need or draft position. Player links provide scouting reports from various services. The ones that require a subscription to access the site will have a ($) after the player names.

  1. Will Anderson Jr. – The class of the draft reminds most scouts of DeMarcus Ware.
  2. Bijan Robinson – He won’t get drafted this high, but he’s going to be the steal of the draft, especially if he falls outside the top 10. The Barry Sanders comparisons are way off, but Robinson could be another LaDainian Tomlinson.
  3. Jalen Carter – His stock will rise as the draft gets closer and his off-field issues fall further behind him. Don’t put too much stock in his Pro Day workouts because this kid is going to be a star.
  4. C.J. Stroud – If the next Patrick Mahomes exists in this draft, it’s Stroud.
  5. Bryce Young – By draft day he’ll probably drop further on my board. I’m just not a big believer in Young.
  6. Tyree Wilson – I love the potential but I don’t think he plays with enough violence to pique the interests of Ryan Poles or Matt Eberflus.
  7. Anthony Richardson – No. 7 with a bullet. Richardson has a jaw-dropping deep ball that reminds me of Justin Fields.
  8. Christian Gonzalez – A loft of mocks have the Bears taking Gonzalez but he’s not that big a hitter and he’s a college rival of Kyler Gordon.
  9. Jaxon Smith-Njigba – Bears fans drool over a potential pairing with Fields, and I do too. That said, it’s doubtful Smith-Njigba will be a top-10 pick.
  10. Lukas Van Ness – He reminds me of Dan Hampton when No. 99 came to Chicago out of Arkansas back in 1979. Bears fans will love Van Ness if he ends up in Chicago.
  11. Broderick Jones – I like Jones better than any of the offensive linemen in this draft just because he’s nastier than all of his peers. His upside is ridiculous, and if he is available when Poles makes his first selection, I wouldn’t be shocked if Jones is his pick.
  12. Quentin Johnston – Few wide receivers in this class are better than Johnston once he has the ball in his hands.
  13. Peter Skoronski – If he can play tackle in the NFL, he’s a top-10 pick. If he has to move to guard, then Skoronski will fall. This feels like a safe spot for a good athlete who still needs to establish where he will start.
  14. Devon Witherspoon – If B-Rob isn’t the steal of this draft, then Witherspoon is. If he can learn to close a little bit better he’d be elite, and he’s not far off. You also have to love that he played for the Illini.
  15. Myles Murphy – If he stayed at Clemson for his senior season he’d be in the running for the top pick in 2024. Murphy needs a little work around the edges, but not much.
  16. Nolan Smith – Some projection systems have him falling just outside the first round, and if he does, Bears fans are going to really hate that Chase Claypool trade.
  17. Bryan Bresee – He’s also starting to fall on some boards. I think he’s healthy, and if so he’s an athletic freak. Based on recent projections, I’d say the scouts aren’t as convinced as I am.
  18. Will Levis – Levis gets better with each workout, but he keeps falling further, and once the top three quarterbacks are selected, almost every team on the clock will consider trading down, including the Bears.
  19. Paris Johnson Jr. – I didn’t like the way he played in Ohio State’s CFB loss to Georgia, and because of that, I think Johnson is the most overrated lineman in this year’s class. That doesn’t mean he isn’t very good, but I just don’t think he’s great. I hope Johnson proves me wrong, but I also hope the Bears pass on him.
  20. Brian Branch – He’s a hybrid defensive back that has probably caught the eye of Eberflus and his staff. If the Bears trade down, Branch could be a target.
  21. Michael Mayer – He had a poor combine, but he still reminds me too much of Jason Witten to be concerned. He shows better tools in games, anyway, at least from what I’ve been told by the thousands of Domers that infiltrate my football feeds.
  22. Calijah Kancey – He’s not the next Aaron Donald, so those kinds of comparisons need to stop. Kancey will, however, remind Bears fans a lot of Tommie Harris
  23. Zay Flowers – He could very well end up being the best receiver in this class and reminds me of Davante Adams when he first came out of college because he’s going to fall much further than he should.
  24. Darnell Wright – I have Wright rated higher than anybody just because of the way he manhandled Anderson Jr. last fall. The OT will probably fall into the second round, but the Bears will still need to trade up to get him if they’re interested. Wright’s stock is rising quickly. Editors Note: Wright is rising quickly and Mel Kiper projects him to the Bears at No. 9. We’ll have more on that in a future post.
  25. Dalton Kincaid – Tight end is one of the strongest position groups in this draft, and if Kincaid wasn’t recovering from a fractured back, he’d be the top tight end in this draft. His game will remind you of Zach Ertz.
  26. Jahmyr Gibbs – A lot of Bears fans like the Alabama junior, but I think Gibbs is just a little too small.
  27. Jordan Addison – At one point he was considered the top wide receiver in this draft and though I don’t want to sound like Kiper, Addison is going to be a great value pick at the end of the first round or the top of the second.
  28. Will McDonald IV – He’s better than 28th on this list, and I admit to a slight anti-Iowa State bias. You’ll hear Kiper describe McDonald as “disruptive” several times on Draft Day.
  29. Deonte Banks – This kid had a great combine and has an awful lot of helium right now.
  30. O’Cyrus Torrence – He’s wide but a little too slow and doesn’t offer position versatility if you’re eyeing him up for the Bears.
  31. Tuli Tuipulotu – The defensive lineman is a little underrated and will probably play EDGE in the NFL, He’s going to be a good one because he’s a very good pass defender when he’s not rushing the passer.
  32. BJ Ojulari – The LSU EDGE rusher reminds me a lot of Trevis Gipson and should have a better career when all is said and done.
  33. Darnell Washington – Another in a long line of very good tight ends, Washington would be a perfect compliment to athletic passers like Fields, Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts. He’s outstanding in the run game, too. I’d love to see Washington somehow fall to the Bears, but that’s unlikely.
  34. Mazi Smith – I like Smith, but I think he tends to phone it in a little too much. He’s a big-play defender who shrinks considerably in low-leverage game situations. That makes him a one-down player unless he can keep his motor running at all times.
  35. Anton Harrison – He’s fast, athletic, and lean, the kind of left tackle that Poles usually gravitates to.
  36. Luke Musgrave – I’m almost positive there are enough draft-eligible tight ends so that every organization can grab one. Musgrave is far from a finished product, and if he drops, he’s a great addition if you’re building for the future.
  37. Steve Avila – Each draft has a highly-skilled guard that talent evaluators see as a center as a finished product. Avila is this year’s top offensive line project.
  38. Joe Tippman – Tippman is a center, and he’s very good. Why do I have him ranked after Avila then? Because I believe a knowledgeable staff will keep Avila at guard, and therefore he has a bit more positional value.
  39. Felix Anudike-Uzomah – He gets after quarterbacks like it’s a game of survival, and he’s going to play like a first-round pick for whichever team is lucky enough to land him.
  40. Hendon Hooker – The Tennesse signal-caller has a lot of helium right now and I could see him landing with the Packers. He’s 25  years old, and is it just me, or does everybody from Tennessee seem to enter the draft at the same age?
  41. Josh Downs – He’s a fearless receiver who makes dramatic plays when he’s not fighting the dropsies. Downs is a Jahan Dotson clone, physically speaking.
  42. Emmanuel Forbes – They don’t come smaller-framed than Forbes but he makes a lot of big plays for a 166-pound defensive back. Forbes is the top ballhawk in this draft class.
  43. Keion White – He’s raw and reminds me a lot of Dominique Robinson.
  44. Adetomiwa Adebawore – If the Bears draft Adebawore we need to get him a good nickname, stat. That’s a tough name to have to spell regularly.
  45. Jalin Hyatt – He’s so fast it’s scary. I like Hyatt a lot but if I had to choose between him and Velus Jones, I’d take Jones.
  46. Kelee Ringo – He’s a big-play defender, just not always in the most positive sense. He does have a great deal of athleticism and potential.
  47. John Michael Schmitz – Schmitz is a safe 2nd or 3rd-round interior offensive lineman. He’s a clean, efficient blocker, and you’ll rarely hear his name called because he rarely makes mistakes.
  48. Drew Sanders – He’s a ball-out hitter and reminds me a little of A.J. Hawk.
  49. Dawand Jones – You don’t see many guys come down the pike with his girth and freaky athleticism, but he’s a work in progress.
  50. Tucker Kraft – Another tight-end, Kraft is a poor man’s version of George Kittle.
  51. Jack Campbell – A low-floor, high-ceiling linebacker who will make a GM look really, really good or really, really bad, depending on when Campbell is picked. I wouldn’t touch him on Day 1, but he’ll provide a lot of potential value as a Day 2 or 3 pick.
  52. Cam Smith – If he can reduce the holds, he’s a heavy-hitting cornerback destined to be a safety and a scheme fit for Chicago’s defense. He’s just a tad too grabby as a defender, and he won’t get away with it in the pros.
  53. Isaiah Foskey – I believe Foskey is going to be a star with the right coaching. He just seems a little lost on the field at times, though he’s elite when he’s on his game.
  54. Zack Charbonnet – I haven’t seen much of him, but he did remind me a lot of Khalil Herbert when I did see him play. Charbonnet is a quick, light-footed slasher who finds the hole very quickly. That said, he’s not much of a blocker and needs a little work as a backfield receiver. He won’t play a lot on third down until he can be better at either.
  55. Trenton Simpson – A chiseled and very fast weakside linebacker who lights up the stat sheet, Simpson would rank much higher if he wasn’t such an arm tackler. His athleticism and motor give him a late second-round grade.
  56. Devon Achane – He has all the tools that front offices no longer look for in a running back, but he’ll make a helluva special teams player and specialty back.
  57. Clark Phillips III – Profiles as a backup in nickel situations, but Phillips has the talent and athleticism to challenge for a starting position.
  58. Matthew Bergeron – Arguably the best run-blocking guard in the draft. Bergeron needs a lot of work in pass protection.
  59. DJ Turner II – Great quickness and speed get him on this list, but Turner is average at best across the board after that. He could be a star in the right scheme.
  60. Andre Carter II – He needs to add some football strength but has the athleticism and work ethic to be a dominant NFL EDGE rusher.
  61. Wanya Morris – He’s a late-developing OT with exceptional downfield blocking skills. Morris has a lot of helium right now and could be chosen near the top of Round 2.
  62. Derick Hall – Poles and Eberflus love athletic, violent players on the EDGE, and Hall attacks harder and more aggressively than any end in this draft class.
  63. Siaki Ika – He has the body and speed to be a force but he needs to show up a lot more often on the stat sheet.
  64. Cody Mauch – He played at North Dakota State so he’s been a little overlooked, but Mauch is one of the most gifted interior linemen in this year’s draft.
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