The Athletic’s Dane Brugler is one of the most respected NFL draft analysts in the industry, so when he ranked the performance of every team in the 2022 NFL Draft, we noticed.
Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears, they weren’t one of his favorite draft classes. They ranked in the bottom 10 of the NFL, checking in at No. 24.
Brugler listed Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker as his favorite selection, suggesting he could be the best all-around safety in the draft. Illinois center Doug Kramer was dubbed the Day-3 pick he thinks could surprise.
“It is fair to criticize the Bears for not adding an offensive playmaker in the second round, but Chicago added a pair of promising defensive backs, and Brisker was outstanding value at No. 48 overall,” Brugler wrote. “Arguably the best all-around safety in the draft, Brisker has speed, toughness and smarts and can wear several different hats in the secondary.”
Brisker’s selection becomes more exciting the further removed we get from draft weekend. General Manager Ryan Poles stuck to his board and didn’t cave to the outside noise demanding a wide receiver. It’ll take a few seasons before we know if his conviction was smart football or stubborn evaluation, but there’s little doubt in Brisker as a football player.
Chicago Bears’ 2022 NFL draft class filled huge needs
What’s overlooked in the aftermath of draft weekend is how massive the Bears’ needs were at cornerback and safety. If Brugler is correct in his suggestion that Brisker could be the best in class, Chicago may have landed a future Pro-Bowler. That’s a home run.
As for Kramer? His mental makeup separates him from the rest of the offensive linemen the Bears chose.
“Kramer has that “make-it” competitive streak that will keep him on the active roster,” Brugler wrote. “Born and raised in Illinois, this was the final line of my Kramer report: ‘he is quick, smart and the type of grinder capable of carving out a multi-contract NFL career.'”
Poles was calculated in this selection. The Bears have a void at right guard, but veteran free-agent signing Lucas Patrick has the versatility to start in that spot if Kramer proves worthy of an opportunity to start at center. The competition along the offensive line will be fierce in training camp, and for a team rebuilding like the Chicago Bears, that’s a great thing.
Still, the end result for the Bears’ 2022 draft class was a low ranking from Brugler. Perhaps it’s the optics; Poles’ failure to land a big-ticket wide receiver to help quarterback Justin Fields has hijacked headlines. But if Chicago did, in fact, add the best safety in the draft and a center who can challenge for a starting job? We’ll look back at this class in a few years and wonder why it was so disrespected.