Bears

Nine players the Bears may draft with the No. 9 pick

Bears

Forget every NFL mock draft you read from the end of the regular season until now. The Bears changed the landscape drastically on Friday, by trading away the No. 1 pick in the draft to the Carolina Panthers, for a haul of picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore. The Bears will now begin their 2023 draft with the No. 9 pick, so players we’ve hyped for months like Will Anderson will be out of reach. Here’s a list of nine players who could be available at No. 9 to help you familiarize yourself with some new names to prepare for the draft. No wide receivers listed below since Poles addressed that by bringing in Moore.

PETER SKORONSKI - LEFT TACKLE - NORTHWESTERN

Skoronski is a seasoned prospect, having started every game for the Wildcats since his freshman year in 2020. He’s been one of the most reliable left tackles for his entire college tenure, too. According to PFF he only surrendered five sacks over his time at Northwestern, and only gave up six total pressures in 2022.

PARIS JOHNSON JR. - LEFT TACKLE - OHIO STATE

Another incredibly reliable offensive lineman, with some positional versatility. Johnson Jr. played left tackle in 2022 and right guard in 2021. Per PFF, he only gave up two sacks last year, and no sacks the year before. Johnson also boasts something no one can teach: very long arms. He measured 36 ⅛ inches at the Combine, which was second longest among all offensive linemen. Johnson could take over

 

DEVON WITHERSPOON - CORNERBACK - ILLINOIS

Witherspoon was the best cornerback in college football last season, giving up just 22 catches on 62 targets (35.4%) and a 25.3 passer rating when targeted, per PFF. Witherspoon didn’t allow a touchdown all year, and notched three interceptions. If the Bears go with Witherspoon, that will also allow Kyler Gordon to focus on playing slot, where he improved as the year went on.

CHRISTIAN GONZALEZ - CORNERBACK - OREGON

There’s a chance Witherspoon will be off the board by the time the Bears pick at No. 9, so Gonzalez could be the guy if the Bears want to add another talented corner to play opposite Jaylon Johnson. Gonzalez wasn’t the total shutdown corner like Witherspoon was in 2022, but he displayed good ball skills with four interceptions. He was also battle-tested by playing against high flying PAC-12 offenses.

JOEY PORTER JR. - CORNERBACK - PENN STATE

Porter Jr. wasn’t the fastest CB at the Combine, but he was one of the strongest, which makes some experts believe he’ll be able to play a physical brand of football with NFL wide receivers. In 10 games in 2022, Porter Jr. was only targeted 30 times per PFF, and only gave up 15 catches on those targets. He never gave up a touchdown. However, Porter Jr. leaves something to be desired in the playmaking department since he only intercepted one pass and recovered one fumble in 34 games at PSU.

TYREE WILSON - EDGE - TEXAS TECH

Wilson was one of the buzziest players towards the end of the college season. He’s big, he’s long, he’s fast and he’s strong. Wilson is a raw force of nature. He had seven sacks and 14 TFLs in 10 games, before a fractured foot cut his season short.

NOLAN SMITH - EDGE - GEORGIA

Smith dealt with numerous injuries at Georgia, making him a bit of a risky pick. But if he stays healthy, he’s equally capable getting after the quarterback and stuffing the run, according to draft experts. Smith was the fastest DE at the Combine, with a 4.39 40-yard dash. In 38 games at Georgia, Smith had 12.5 sacks, 20 TFLs, 110 tackles, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

CALIJAH KANCEY - DEFENSIVE TACKLE - PITTSBURGH

Kancey is unfairly drawing lots of comparisons to Aaron Donald, since he’s another small defensive tackle coming out of Pitt. Those comps picked up when Kancey ran the fastest 40-yard dash by a DT since 2003, outpacing who else but Donald by .01 seconds (4.67 to 4.68). Just like Donald, Kancey won ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2022. However the production between the two is where things differ greatly. Donald racked up 29.5 sacks and 66 TFLs in four seasons at Pitt. Kancey had just 16 and 34.5.

JALEN CARTER - DEFENSIVE TACKLE - GEORGIA

Carter’s legal trouble makes it incredibly difficult to predict where he’ll eventually land, but someone will take him. Before Georgia police booked Carter for reckless driving and racing he was widely considered a surefire top-five pick. Now, could he fall to the Bears at No. 9? And if he’s there, will Poles be the man to draft him?

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