The Chicago Bears selected Southern Utah offensive tackle Braxton Jones in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft. Jones was considered one of the top small-school prospects in this year’s draft and fills a need for a Bears offense searching for depth at offensive tackle.
Here’s what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote about Jones in advance of the NFL Draft:
“Jones has moments where he can overwhelm his level of competition with size and length, but he’s currently lacking the technique and force needed to succeed against NFL defenders. Jones’ run blocking isn’t as dynamic or athletic as expected and his issues with pad level are a concern. However, he has good slide quickness, developmental traits and talent that should not be overlooked in pass protection. Shoddy footwork and a lack of half-man leverage in his pass sets led to a rough game against Arizona State, but both areas are correctable with work. He has the upside to become an average starting left tackle, but swing tackle feels like the safer projection.”
At this point in the NFL Draft, teams search for players with traits. Jones’ unique physical makeup — nearly 36-inch arms — is an asset offensive line coaches covet. He has the baseline on-field skill set worthy of a day-three selection, and when factoring his elite measurables, his ceiling is higher than the average fifth-rounder.
Jones won’t challenge for a starting job in 2022. He might settle in as a swing tackle for the first few seasons of his career, and that’s OK. One of the most challenging positions to find quality players is offensive tackle, so swinging on a player with upside in the fifth round is acceptable.
The Bears earn a solid B- grade for this pick. Again, Jones won’t be an impact player in 2022, but if he’s coached up and given time to develop over the next year or two, he could emerge as a viable starting option in the future.