Ranking Bears' draft class based on expected 2022 contributions

Ranking Bears’ draft class based on expected 2022 contributions

Ryan Poles’ rebuild of the Bears’ roster has been a clear rejection of the roster he inherited from Ryan Pace.

Poles got his first chance to bring in his guys during the 2022 NFL Draft, in which the Bears made several moves and wound up with 11 selections.

Due to the Justin Fields trade, the Bears didn’t have a first-round draft pick. The New York Giants used Chicago’s selection to draft offensive tackle Evan Neal at No. 7 overall.

But the Bears had two second-round picks – selecting cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker – and a number of Day 3 picks.

Most of Poles’ Day 3 picks are developmental prospects who shouldn’t be expected to contribute in 2022.
However, the Bears will need some of their draft picks to play this fall. So here’s a look at all 11 prospects, ranked in order of expected contribution in 2022.

Kyler Gordon

Gordon was the first pick of the Poles-Eberflus era, and he should start opposite Jaylon Johnson early in the season, if not Week 1.

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said the Bears plan to play Gordon solely at outside corner right now. The Washington product has the versatility to play in the slot, but the Bears want him singularly focused to start his NFL career.

Cornerbacks often struggle to adjust to the NFL game quickly. If Gordon isn’t a Day 1 starter, that’s understandable. But if he isn’t opposite Johnson after the first quarter of the season, then the Bears have a problem.

 

Jaquan Brisker

Like Gordon, Brisker should start on Day 1 opposite Eddie Jackson.

The Penn State product is an old-school safety who loves to play in the box but has the versatility to play deep.

“The hitting is there,” Eberflus said of Brisker at Bears rookie minicamp. “The old term that a lot of my mentors used to use is quickness, instincts, and striking ability, and that’s what he has. Those things still are true today as they were years ago. He has those attributes, and we’re excited about where he is. What a positive energy guy, too, and you can really feel the light coming out of him.”
 
Williams said Brisker has “motor and mean.”
 
All of this should add up to a Day 1 starting safety.
 
Velus Jones
 
You might have heard that the Bears have a need at wide receiver. They are certainly hoping the versatile Tennessee receiver can help that unheralded unit.
 
Initially, Jones might have to live off manufactured touches on offense while returning kicks. The speed and the run-after-the-catch ability are something the Bears must find a way to utilize this season.
 
But Jones must refine his route-running and technique to be a mainstay at receiver.
 
Jones said he has already been “manifesting” with quarterback Justin Fields. Developing chemistry is essential for Jones and Fields.
 
Any jolt the Bears’ offense can find will be a bonus, so it’s fair to expect Jones to play some role in 2022. It’s just unclear what that role is.
 
Zachary Thomas
 
Thomas played both tackle positions in college but is kicking inside to guard for the Bears.
 
The San Diego State product said he believes the transition to guard is going well. However, given that the Bears have an open spot at right tackle, it wouldn’t be crazy to see Thomas compete for that spot and perhaps win it in camp.
 
But he should still be a depth piece that sees some field time this season if he doesn’t.
 
Trestan Ebner
 
An explosive back who believes his best attribute is his pass-catching ability, Ebner will compete for a job as a returner early on.
 
He’ll be behind David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert on the depth chart, so his role on offense could be limited in 2022.
 
However, Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy have talked about the importance of having backs who can split out and be a threat in the passing game.
 
If Ebner can show he’s a legitimate weapon in that area, the Bears could find some use for him on offense.
 
Trenton Gill
 
The North Carolina State punter will compete with Ryan Winslow for the job in training camp.
 
Gill said he looks to Raiders punter A.J. Cole for advice. The Raiders signed Cole as an undrafted free agent in 2019. Cole beat out incumbent punter Johnny Townsend for the starting job. He made the Pro Bowl last season and was named first-team All-Pro.
Can Gill follow his former college teammate’s path?
 
Doug Kramer
 
The Illinois center is thrilled to be playing for the hometown Bears.
 
Kramer will enter the season behind Lucas Patrick on the depth chart. But he should provide valuable offensive line depth and could see some playing time should Patrick go down or be moved to guard out of necessity.
 
Dominique Robinson
 
At Bears rookie minicamp, Robinson said Chase Young inspired his move from wide receiver to defensive end.
 
The former dual-threat quarterback turned wide receiver turned defensive end is an intriguing prospect who will get to learn from veteran Robert Quinn.
 
“It’s pretty neat when you think about it,” Eberflus said of Robinson. “When you look at these defensive linemen who can turn the corner, it’s always about pointing at the quarterback — your hips, your knees, your toes. You have to be flexible to be able to do that.
 
“The great ones have always had that. [Robinson] has that. How far that can go, I don’t know. But he does have some of the attributes that you need to have.”
 
Robinson could be a situational pass-rusher in 2022, but his future could be bright.
 
Braxton Jones
 
A developmental tackle, Jones likely will be offensive line depth behind expected starters Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.
 
Elijah Hicks
 
The seventh-round pick out of Cal is a versatile safety who has experience playing corner. He’ll compete for a roster spot and could be a special teams contributor.
 
Ja’Tyre Carter

 

Another developmental offensive lineman, Carter was a four-year starter at tackle in college but will move to guard with the Bears. He allowed only three pressures in pass protection last season. He has the strength and frame to make the transition, but it won’t happen overnight.

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