The 2022 NFL Draft kicked off for most of the league Thursday night, but for a Chicago Bears team that entered the offseason without a first-rounder in their arsenal, the draft is set to get underway Friday night at pick No. 39.
The Bears entered draft season with some obvious needs. Wide receiver sits atop a list that includes interior offensive line, cornerback, safety, and a three-technique. And after the dust settled on the first round, Chicago is in an excellent position to address those weaknesses in the second round.
Let’s start a wide receiver, where six were selected in the first round. But the depth of this year’s pass-catchers is incredible. Check out this list of names who are still on the board: George Pickens (Georgia), Christian Watson (North Dakota State), Skyy Moore (Western Michigan), Alec Pierce (Cincinnati), Khalil Shakir (Boise State), David Bell (Purdue), and John Metchie III (Alabama).
By my count, that’s seven wide receivers who’d all represent a significant upgrade for the Bears. Chicago has the seventh pick in the second round. See the point?
Second round offers more than just WRs
Wide receiver isn’t the only position with a plethora of talent that remains undrafted. Offensive tackles like Daniel Faalele (Minnesota) and Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan) would appeal to a Bears’ roster with potential questions at the position. Georgia guard Jamaree Salyer’s positional versatility would be a boon for Chicago. Even Kentucky’s mammoth offensive lineman, Darian Kinnard, would enter training camp as one of the Bears’ five most talented options upfront.
And how about the cornerbacks? The talent that remains in the secondary is outstanding. Auburn’s Roger McCreary, Clemson’s Andrew Booth, and Washington’s Kyler Gordon won’t wait long to hear their name called Friday night. If you include Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker in this mix, four defensive backs who’d all challenge for starting jobs on the Bears’ defense are available.
One of the most talented prospects still on the board is Oklahoma defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey. Chicago identified the three-technique role as a priority this offseason with the attempted signing of Larry Ogunjobi, and while they did add Justin Jones to the roster, there’s a good chance General Manager Ryan Poles isn’t finished upgrading that spot. If Winfrey slides to No. 39, he’s as good a bet as any available player to become a Bear.
Depth of 2022 NFL Draft to benefit Bears
This proves what we’ve heard throughout the 2022 NFL Draft process: this year’s class is highlighted by its depth. It’s a great year to have multiple second-round picks; the Bears will add two starters regardless of their targeted position.
Bears fans have been calling for Poles to upgrade quarterback Justin Fields’ weapons all offseason. He’ll have a chance to do it with one — or both — of his second-rounders. There’s a chance he can do it in the third round too. With the way the 2022 NFL Draft has unfolded, he has no excuse. He’s played the wide receiver market perfectly; he added cheap free agents with upside and is in a position to land an extremely talented player on a rookie contract. He’s set himself up to be one of this offseason’s big winners.
But this is the NFL Draft, after all. There’s no such thing as an obvious decision.