Bears 2023 NFL Draft class: Breaking down every pick

They started with offensive tackle Darnell Wright at 10th overall, then made defensive moves with their next three picks. Here’s a look at the newest Bears.

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Offensive lineman Darnell Wright, the Bears first round draft pick, is introduced at Halas Hall.

Offensive lineman Darnell Wright, the Bears first round draft pick, is introduced at Halas Hall.

Nam Y, Huh/AP

The Bears have finished the NFL Draft and have a crew of new players heading to Halas Hall for rookie minicamp next week. Here’s a look at every pick general manager Ryan Poles made:

Round 1, No. 10
Darnell Wright
Tennessee RT
6-foot-5, 333 pounds
Age: 21

Background: The five-star recruit committed to Tennessee and didn’t waver even when the Vols fired coach Jeremy Pruitt amid accusations of NCAA violations. He started 42 games — 27 at right tackle, 17 at left tackle and two at right guard.

The stats: Wright gave up no sacks and only committed two penalties last year. He was flagged 10 times as a junior, which was a product, coach Josh Heupel said, of Wright adjusting to a new up-tempo offense.

The skinny:The most important thing the Bears can do is protect Justin Fields. They believe Wright will do so from the right side, choosing him over Ohio State left tackle Broderick Jones and Northwestern tackle/guard Peter Skoronski. Passing on Georgia tackle Jalen Carter — the Bears traded down so the Eagles could take him — will be debated in Chicago for years.

Round 2, No. 53
Gervon Dexter
Florida DT
6-foot-5, 310 pounds
Age: 21

Background: The Florida native — who was ranked higher than Georgia’s Jalen Carter, according to some recruiting services — stayed in-state and started 24 games over a three-year career with the Gators.

The stats: Playing a position where statistics rarely tell the whole story, Dexter recorded 9 ½ tackles for loss and 4 ½ sacks in his college career, blocking four passes and somehow intercepting two balls. His best game might have come in December’s Las Vegas Bowl, when he posted five tackles against Oregon State.

The skinny:The Bears showed interest in veteran defensive tackles during free agency — Javon Hargrave and Dre’Mont Jones both proved too pricey for the rebuilding team — and then passed on Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter in Round 1. Dexter plays a position that head coach Matt Eberflus considers the engine of his defense and will be given a chance to play right away.

Round 2, No. 56
Tyrique Stevenson
Miami CB
6-foot, 198 pounds
Age: 22

Background: Stevenson emerged from the ultra-competitive South Florida high school scene to earn a scholarship to Georgia, where he played every game as a freshman and grew into a starter his freshman season. He was frustrated about playing time, though, and transferred to Miami. He flourished there and became one of the top cornerbacks in the country.

The stats: Stevenson had 11 pass breakups, including three interceptions, and 68 tackles over his two seasons with the Hurricanes.

The skinny: The Bears like where they stand with cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kyler Gordon, but it’s quite a dropoff after that. Stevenson also gives them insurance in case Johnson’s contract talks go sideways or Gordon doesn’t take the next step. In a perfect world for the Bears, however, they finally have the necessary three quality corners to compete in the modern NFL.

Round 3, No. 64
Zacch Pickens
South Carolina DT
6-foot-4, 291 pounds
Age: 23

Background: Pickens was a five-star recruit who was rated the No. 1 rated defensive tackle in the country as a high school senior in Anderson, S.C., — rated ahead of future No. 1 overall draft pick Travon Walker.

The stats: In two seasons as a full-time starter under new coach Shane Beamer, Pickens had 80 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four pass breakups and nine tackles for loss. He was a second-team all-SEC selection.

The skinny:The Bears came into the draft with a big need on the defensive line and after drafting Florida defensive tackle Gervon Dexter in the second round, Pickens gives them another good athlete with versatility to fortify the interior line. He figures to get an immediate opportunity to win a starting job or at least be a rotational player as a rookie.

Round 4, No. 115
Roschon Johnson
Texas RB
6-foot, 219 pounds
Age: 22

Background: A four-star quarterback, the Port Arthur, Texas, native stayed in-state to play for the Longhorns but was moved to running back a week before the first game of his freshman year in 2019. His 123 carries that season were a career-high, as he was stuck behind star Bijan Robinson for the past three seasons.

The stats: In four seasons, Johnson carried 392 times for 2,190 yards and started only five out of 47 games. He was named honorable mention All-Big 12 last season after averaging six yards per carry. Just as importantly, he played on every UT special teams unit in 2022.

The skinny: Johnson’s pass-blocking could earn him a spot alongside D’Onta Foreman and Khalil Herbert in the Bears’ three-headed running back rotation. His high character and versatile special teams skills could keep him on the team for years to come.

Round 4, No. 133
Tyler Scott
Cincinnati WR
5-foot-10, 177 pounds
Age: 21

Background: The Akron, Ohio native was a star running back in high school, rushing for 1,337 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior before transitioning to wide receiver as a freshman at Cincinnati.

The stats: Scott had modest statistics in his first two seasons before a breakout junior season in 2022 — 54 receptions for 899 yards (16.3 average) and nine touchdowns in 11 games. He has a knack for big plays, with touchdown receptions of 81, 76, 75, 61 and 53 yards.

The skinny: With sprinter’s speed (4.37 40-yard dash) and a 39 1/2-inch vertical, Scott is a potential deep threat for Justin Fields.

“He’s really good with the deep ball, getting open deep as well as fighting for the ball deep,” scout Ryan Cavanaugh said. “Good at tracking it. Good hands downfield. Just an awesome kid.”

Round 5, No. 148
Noah Sewell
Oregon LB
6-foot-2, 246 pounds
Age: 21

Background: Sewell grew up in American Samoa and was a five-star high school linebacker and running back in Utah before going to Oregon. He is the younger brother of Lions Pro Bowl left tackle Penei Sewell, who was the No. 7 pick two years ago. Bears west coast scout Reese Hicks said Noah Sewell is a versatile linebacker who can be an effective blitzer.

The stats: In three seasons at Oregon, Sewell had 218 tackles, including 20 1/2 for loss, plus two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2020, All-Pac-12 the next season and second team last season.

The skinny: The Bears signed two starting linebackers in Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, but have many spots up for grabs after that. Hicks said Sewell appears ready to play right away rather than being a developmental project.

Round 5, No. 165
Terell Smith
Minnesota CB
6-foot, 204 pounds
Age: 23

Background: The Georgia state 100-meter dash champion as a high school junior, Smith committed to Minnesota and started nine games as a freshman in 2018. He didn’t start another game until 2021, though; when he did, he stuck, totaling 20 starts the last two seasons. The Bears liked his performance at the East-West Shrine Game and his testing at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The stats: Smith had two interceptions, team-high seven pass deflections and 4 ½ tackles for loss as a 23-year-old senior for the Golden Gophers.

The skinny:He’ll fight for playing time at outside cornerback and on special teams. The Bears are betting on Smith’s height and athleticism.
“When you’ve got somebody with those physical skillsets, they don’t have to be perfect — and they can still be right,” Trey Koziol, Bears co-player personnel director, said.

Round 7, No. 218
Travis Bell
Kennesaw State DT
6-foot-1, 305 pounds
Age: 24

Background:Bell had a stellar senior year at Jefferson Davis High school in Montgomery, Ala. — 10 tackles per game, nine sacks and 16 tackles for loss. A two-star prospect, he started as a freshman at Kennesaw in 2018 and was a second-team All-Big South selection in 2021.

The stats: Bell had 34 tackles (16 solo), 1.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries and blocked a field goal last season.

The skinny:Bill is a quick, run-stopping interior lineman that fits the profile of a Matt Eberflus player. “I’m self-driven,” Bell said. “I’m a nasty guy. I’m a hard worker. The work ethic is out the roof. I’m a physical guy. I’m physical. And I got a motor, man — y’all should expect to see me running sideline to sideline.”

Round 7, No. 258
Kendall Williamson
Stanford S
6-foot, 203 pounds
Age: 22

Background: Williamson starred at Brookwood High School outside of Atlanta and turned down offers from Auburn, Michigan State, Northwestern and others to play at Stanford. He played cornerback in high school, and it’s possible the Bears could try him at that position because there’s more need there than at safety.

The stats: Williamson played five seasons at Stanford because of the pandemic and finished with 211 tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles in 49 games.

The skinny: Picks this late in the draft are like lottery tickets, and the Bears are just hoping to get lucky. They’re set at safety with Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson. Williamson’s best path to making the roster is to lock down a role on special teams and see where it takes him. The goal at this point is simply to stay in the building.

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