The Chicago Bears may have landed the 3-tech the defense desperately needs in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft with the selection (No. 64 overall) of South Carolina defensive lineman Zacch Pickens.
Pickens is the second defensive lineman the Bears added on Day 2. They used their first choice in the second round, No. 53 overall, on Florida’s Gervon Dexter Sr.
Zacch Pickens started 12 games in 2022 and finished the year with 42 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
“Athletic interior defender with experience and length as a gap-control tackle but the quickness and play traits that might be better suited to attacking upfield,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting report. “Pickens has a disruptive first step that creates advantages for him as both a run defender and pass rusher. He plays with harmonious hands and feet to elude blockers or play off them, but he’s likely to get moved around by NFL drive blockers. Pickens has the ability to play both tackle spots in a one-gapping front and has rotational value with the potential to see starter’s reps.”
As ESPN’s Louis Riddick noted during the NFL Draft broadcast, Pickens –like Dexter — requires advanced coaching and motivation to reach his maximum upside. If they’re unlocked in the pros, the Chicago Bears hit two home runs. But it’s a slippery slope to bet on that.
Still, I like the Pickens selection more than Dexter. He profiles as a more traditional 3-tech because of his first-step quickness. There’s a chance he’ll push Justin Jones for reps in 2023. And if he develops under Coach Matt Eberflus’ tutelage, he could become a full-time starter within a few seasons.
The Chicago Bears’ hot start to the 2023 NFL Draft with Darnell Wright in the first round has cooled a bit in the second and third rounds.