The 2023 Senior Bowl is scheduled to kick off its week of practices on Tuesday, January 31, in Mobile, Alabama. The Chicago Bears scouting department will be in full force over the three days of practice sessions.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and four members of the Bears’ coaching staff will be at the all-star game, too. Getsy was named head coach of the American team, and as a result, he’ll have an up-close look at many of the top senior prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, including several offensive linemen who could be an upgrade for the Bears next season.
OTHER 2023 SENIOR BOWL PREVIEWS: RB | Edge | WR
The Chicago Bears hit big on 2022 fifth-round pick Braxton Jones. The Southern Utah product started every game at left tackle and is a big part of the rebuild on offense. Whether he remains at left tackle or shifts to the right side will depend on general manager Ryan Poles’s moves in free agency, but there’s little doubt he’ll begin the 2023 season as a starter.
Right guard Teven Jenkins blossomed as a starter in 2022 as well. There are some concerns about his durability, but if he can stay healthy for a full 17-game schedule, he has the potential to develop into one of the best guards in the league. He, like Jones, is a starter next season.
And that’s where the locks along the Bears’ offensive line end. Left guard Cody Whitehair could return as a starter in 2023, but Chicago may decide to move on this offseason. Center Sam Mustipher is an obvious target for an upgrade, and Larry Borom wasn’t good enough in 2022 to guarantee a role next year.
The 2023 Senior Bowl is loaded with quality offensive line prospects who will jockey for early-round consideration. The Chicago Bears are among many teams targeting the position group this April.
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Ohio State tackle Dawand Jones is a fringe first-round pick right now, but if he has a strong week of practices in Mobile, he should solidify his ranking as one of the top 32 players in April’s draft.
Jones is a massive offensive tackle prospect. He checked in at 6084 and 370 pounds (verified measurements) last spring. His 36 1/8-inch arms are rare. Jones looks the part, and he plays it too.
Jones is more athletic than expected for a guy as big as he is. His feet are quick enough; his length helps him recover against speed rushers who win off the snap and buys his footwork time to catch up. Jones is a mauler in the run game who consumes defenders like a grizzly bear. If he gets his hands on them, their rep is over.
The Chicago Bears won’t land Jones unless they pick up more late-first-round picks in a trade-down scenario. There’s a chance he will fall into the second round, but I don’t think he’ll last until their current second-round pick, No. 56 overall. If Poles adds more picks to his arsenal, Jones will be a legitimate 2023 NFL draft target for the Bears.
North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch is a projection at this point in the 2023 NFL draft process. He played tackle for the Bison but is viewed as a player who’s likely to be kicked inside in the pros. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler recently said he thinks Mauch can play center, which will add to his appeal inside Halas Hall.
Mauch needs a good weigh-in to spark momentum for his NFL Draft stock. He weighed just 288 pounds in the spring and his arms measured 32 1/8 inches. I expect he’ll be closer to 300 pounds when the Senior Bowl weigh-in results are announced. His light stature shouldn’t be a surprise; he began his college career as a tight end.
Mauch is the kind of athlete Poles prefers in his offensive linemen. His smaller-school stature won’t be an issue, especially after the Bears’ success with Braxton Jones, 2022’s fifth-round pick from Southern Utah. Mauch’s ability to get to the second level and finish on running plays is a plus, as is his footwork and ability to mirror oncoming pass rushers. If his size hits position minimums, he’ll be a quality Day-2 target.
Tennessee’s Darnell Wright is another plus-sized offensive tackle who checked in at 6051, 347 pounds in the spring. A former five-star high school recruit, Wright plays with good power in the run game and presents a challenge for pass-rushers because of his overall mass. However, he isn’t the cleanest athlete, and I expect he’ll have some difficulty against speed in the pros. But his 2022 season was arguably his best as a Volunteer and has boosted his somewhat low preseason draft stock into Day-2 consideration.
Wright doesn’t seem like he’d be a fit for what Ryan Poles values in offensive linemen, so I’d be shocked if he ends up in Chicago. Unlike Dawand Jones, Wright doesn’t have enough athletic traits to overcome his size profile. Still, if he puts on a show at the 2023 Senior Bowl? Anything is possible, especially with his experience playing both left and right tackle.
Maryland tackle Jaelyn Duncan began the 2022 college season as a first-round prospect but has dropped down the pre-draft rankings quite a bit. I’m not sure why that’s happened. Duncan is one of the best movers in this year’s offensive tackle group. He has very good feet and can redirect with ease. Like Cody Mauch, he’s on the lighter side for offensive tackles (he weight only 288 pounds in the spring). I’d imagine he’s gained at least 10 pounds since then. Everything about his game screams future Bear.
Duncan’s ability to move down the line of scrimmage easily, get to the second level, and finish blocks in space is a huge part of his allure. And while his hand work does need some refinement, his overall upside is as high as any offensive tackle in this year’s draft. He may need a season or two of NFL coaching to reach it, but he’s a name to circle as a legitimate second-round target for the Chicago Bears, assuming he’s on the board.
Syracuse offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron checks the boxes from a size profile at 6047 and 324 pounds with 33 7/8-inch arms. Like Duncan, Bergeron is an experienced starter at both left and right tackle; he’s manned the left tackle job for the Orangemen since 2020.
Bergeron is flying a bit under the radar in this year’s offensive tackle group. He doesn’t possess any ‘wow’ traits, but he’s a consistent player. He offers above-average athletic traits and good enough power to be an effective lineman in either power or zone schemes. His hand placement needs work in pass protection, but he’s an active dude who keeps working until the whistle blows.
Bergeron is another of this year’s Senior Bowl linemen who will grab the eyes of Bears scouts. He’s well-built, moves better than you’d expect from a 320-pounder, and has the kind of on-field motor Chicago’s coaching staff will value. He could sneak into Day 2 with a strong week of practices and a good showing at the NFL Combine.
Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz is the top-ranked center in the 2023 NFL Draft and will be coached by Getsy during the week of Senior Bowl practices. With Chicago’s need at center an obvious one, Getsy will get a first-hand look at whether Schmitz can provide the kind of upgrade to level up the entire Bears’ offensive line.
A veteran of 36 career starts, Schmitz, an Illinois native, will be 24 years old in his rookie season. He’s a powerful player who can control the action inside, but he isn’t a one-trick pony. Schmitz can finish blocks on the second level when asked to. A likely second-round pick, Schmitz would be a massive upgrade over Mustipher and a day-one starter for the Bears in 2023.
Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence is a first-round prospect and one of the top overall players participating in the 2023 Senior Bowl. He’ll likely hear his name called in the second half of the first round, and for good reason. He’s a hulking interior offensive lineman — 6047, 347 pounds — and plays up to his weight. He’s extremely powerful at the point of attack and routinely moves his defender off their spot. He’s aggressive and plays with high energy, which isn’t always the case with linemen his size.
Torrence started all 11 games for Florida in 2022 after transferring from Louisiana, where he started 35 games over three seasons. He’s an experienced player who proved he had little trouble handling the uptick in competition last season. Assuming he handles his business in Mobile, he’ll be one of the week’s biggest winners.
It’s unlikely the Chicago Bears will be within striking distance for Torrence. If he falls into the second round, Poles could get aggressive to move up and pair him with Jenkins to form one of the more intimidating pairs of offensive guards in the NFL.
USC interior lineman Andrew Vorhees is another 2023 Senior Bowl player who won’t wait long to hear his name called on draft weekend. A likely second-round pick, Vorhees brings positional versatility to the NFL. He’s spent time at tackle, guard, and center during his collegiate career, and for a team like the Chicago Bears that has needs all across the offensive line, a prospect like Vorhees will be coveted.
Vorhees is a big dude at 6060, 326 pounds. He started at left guard for the Trojans in 2022 and finished the year with an elite 90.5 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. Where he really excels is in the run game, though. His big frame and powerful hands neutralize opposing defensive linemen almost immediately. While he isn’t an elite athlete, he’s plenty spry enough for a guy with his size, and he’d fit the Bears’ offensive scheme well.
Vorhees has a chance to sneak into the later portion of the first round, but I think it’s more likely he will fall into the Chicago Bears’ second-round range. He’s a plug-and-play starter at guard.
Notre Dame’s Jarrett Patterson will appeal to the Chicago Bears because of his interior position versatility. He played left guard in 2022 after three seasons as a center. With the Bears’ needs at both positions, Patterson is a quality early-Day-3 target that can compete right away for meaningful reps.
Patterson is a well-built 6047 and 307 pounds. He has a thick lower half and plays with impressive power at the point of attack. A somewhat limited athlete, Patterson may not fit the athletic profile Ryan Poles prefers in offensive linemen. But he has a ton of experience and brings a relatively high floor to the NFL.
TCU’s Steve Avila is another prospect whose experience at center and guard makes him fantastic value as a late-Day-2, early-Day-3 pick. Built like a fire hydrant, Avila’s stocky frame gives him an automatic leverage advantage against taller defensive linemen. He doesn’t have great length, but it isn’t as big of a concern for an interior player as it is for an offensive tackle.
Avila has better-than-expected short-area athleticism. He’s equally effective as a mauler and step-and-seal blocker, allowing him to excel in any system on the next level. He’ll need to prove he has enough initial quickness out of his snap to handle speed rushers at the next level, making one-on-ones at the 2023 Senior Bowl critical.