The Chicago Bears made three selections on day two of the 2022 NFL Draft, adding cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker in the second round and wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. in the third round. Both second-rounders are expected to compete for starting jobs next fall, while Jones will offer exciting playmaking ability to the passing game and quarterback Justin Fields.
Despite the excitement surrounding the Bears’ first three selections, ESPN’s longtime NFL Draft analyst, Mel Kiper Jr., called General Manager Ryan Poles’ draft picks questionable.
“I said before Round 2 began that the Bears were in for a big night, because they had two early picks to fill clear needs,” Kiper wrote. “Those needs? Cornerback, wide receiver and offensive line. What did Chicago do? Fill the hole at corner … and then take a safety.”
It’s that pivot to safety that has Kiper concerned.
“General manager Ryan Poles did add a receiver in Round 3 with Velus Jones Jr. (No. 71), but that was still ahead of a few other players I liked, including Calvin Austin III,” Kiper wrote. “Jones is going to be a 25-year-old rookie, so has he already hit his ceiling?”
Poles has come under fire for his decision to select Jones over some of the higher-rated options, but little has been made of Jones’ electrifying 4.31 speed. Chicago’s wide receivers now has two players with sub-4.4 speed (Jones and Darnell Mooney), and the three free-agent wide receivers Poles signed check the speed box, too. They each clocked mid-4.4s at their pro day or combine workout.
Jones adds a dynamic element to special teams, too.
It will take some time before we know whether Poles’ decision to prioritize defense over wide receiver in the second round was correct. It’ll also take a season or two before we can evaluate whether Jones was a smart play by Poles in the third round.
Right now, we know this: Chicago’s defense got better, and the offense got faster.