The Chicago Bears’ 2022 NFL Draft officially gets underway Friday night. Armed with three picks — Nos. 39, 48, and 71 — General Manager Ryan Poles has an opportunity to silence his critics and provide quarterback Justin Fields with the weapons he needs for a successful second season in the league.
This day-two mock draft was conducted with the assumption Poles doesn’t trade down. That said, Poles will be aggressive in his attempt to acquire more draft capital in an exceptionally deep draft class.
Here’s who the Bears land in my 2022 NFL Draft day-two mock.
Round 2, Pick 39: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Georgia wide receiver George Pickens came off the board at No. 38 overall in this mock draft simulation. There’s a strong contingent of Bears fans hoping Pickens is Poles’ selection, and if he fell to Chicago in this exercise, I would’ve selected him. Instead, Watson’s blend of elite size and athletic traits has his upside as high as any pass-catcher in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he’s the pick here.
The issue facing Watson is his readiness to play right away. He’s making a big jump from North Dakota State to the NFL, and he has to become a more physical route-runner for consistent success in the pros. But the Bears need a wide receiver with his size-speed combination, and with how thin the position group became early in the second round, Poles had no choice but to call Watson’s name.
Round 2, Pick 48: Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
The Bears are doubling up at wide receiver in the second round with the selection of Pierce, who offers a similar ceiling as Watson and a higher floor. Pierce is an effective route-runner and he’s an elite athlete, too. His ridiculous 40.5-inch vertical jump and 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine prove that he has the explosive traits required to be a downfield threat.
A combination of Pierce and Watson as a second-round return will flip the narrative around the Bears’ wide receivers from an underwhelming group devoid of playmakers (aside from Darnell Mooney) to one of the more intriguing — and young — receiver rooms in the NFL.
Round 3, Pick 71: Jamaree Salyer, iOL, Georgia
Salyer sliding to the third round is incredible value for a Bears team that needs versatile offensive linemen capable of starting at multiple positions. Salyer is a plug-and-play starter at guard who also can play offensive tackle. If he falls to Chicago, he’d instantly become one of the most naturally gifted linemen on the roster. He doesn’t fit the profile of the fit and athletic lineman Poles is prioritizing, but at some point, it’s about drafting good football players. That’s Salyer.
Let’s recap. By the end of day two, the Bears add a pair of super athletic and plus-sized wide receivers and a guard who’s immediately inserted into the starting lineup. In an offseason that has yet to provide much help for Fields, the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft can do all that and more.