Chicago Bears NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Is the New Regime Selling Justin Fields Short?

This offseason, the Bears firmly entered a rebuilding period when they traded away their best player Khalil Mack. It was assumed that they would invest their resources to build around their second-year quarterback Justin Fields. However, as this offseason winds down, Chicago hasn’t moved the needle offensively enough from one of the worst groups in the NFL. In fact, things may be worse than last season. The Bears’ draft provides some solid talent on defense, but the lack of emphasis on offense is concerning for Justin Fields’s long-term development. This article will provide a full draft recap with analysis and grades for each of the Bears’ draft picks.

Chicago Bears Draft Picks 2022

Round 2 No. 39 CB Kyler Gordon
Round 2 No. 48 S Jaquan Brisker
Round 3 No. 71 WR Velus Jones Jr.
Round 5 No. 168 OT Braxton Jones
Round 5 No. 174 DE Dominique Robinson
Round 6 No. 186 OT Zachary Thomas
Round 6 No. 203 RB Trestan Ebner
Round 6 No. 207 C Doug Kramer
Round 7 No. 226 OT Ja’Tyre Carter
Round 7 No. 254 S Elijah Hicks
Round 7 No. 255 P Trenton Gill

Overall Draft Grade: B-

Analysis: The Bears deserve some credit for their first-round pick being included in the Justin Fields trade, which I was a big fan of, but that trade was a part of the team’s last regime. It’s unclear how the new regime feels about Fields as general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t done much to support his young quarterback with talent. Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker are solid prospects who can both become eventual high-level starters in the secondary. Still, the team selected Velus Jones Jr. as their top receiver and Braxton Jones as their top offensive lineman. I have serious doubts about the impact each of those players can make this season.

With a whopping eight picks on Day 3, it’s unclear why the Bears didn’t opt to make a trade-up to secure a higher-level offensive lineman or wide receiver for Fields. Time will tell how much of an impact those Day 3 players can make, and it’s fair to note that the Bears’ roster was devoid of talent, so the quantity over quality approach makes some sense. However, I can’t help but wonder if the new Chicago regime is preparing to make a play at the 2023 quarterback class instead of building around Justin Fields, who isn’t their handpicked quarterback.

Chicago Bears Draft Grades 2022

Round: 2 Pick: 39 / Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

It was surprising to see Kyler Gordon check in at just a 36th percentile 4.52-second 40-yard dash after making Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List twice, but that shouldn’t be held against him too much as his elite jumps and agility testing at his pro day landed him with a 9.69 RAS. More importantly, Gordon was one of the most productive cornerbacks in the country at Washington and didn’t allow a single touchdown in 716 career coverage snaps per Pro Football Focus (PFF). The Bears certainly needed to bolster a cornerback room severely lacking talent outside of Jaylon Johnson. Still, questions will remain about Chicago passing on players like receivers George Pickens and Skyy Moore at this spot.

Grade: B-

Round: 2 Pick: 48 / Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

Jaquan Brisker was very productive in coverage in his career at Penn State, but he’s at his best when he’s playing downhill in the box. It remains to be seen how the Bears will utilize him in their defense, but his hard work over the offseason heading into the 2021 season helped him showcase a wider range of tools than was previously expected. Brisker is a former transfer from Lackawanna Community College who has worked his tail off to get to this point, and the hard-nosed mindset helps him be a vocal leader on the field. Other Penn State players raved about Brisker in interviews in the pre-draft process, and those personality traits will carry him far in the NFL. Brisker’s upward trajectory, athletic potential, and already solid production made this a worthy pick. Still, again, the lack of focus on offense makes this a B rather than an A.

Grade: B

Round: 3 Pick: 71 / Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee

At first blush, I wasn’t a massive fan of the Velus Jones Jr. pick. He will turn 25 years old before the upcoming season and didn’t even have more than 25 catches or 300 yards until his sixth season in college football. However, Jones Jr. can gain consistent separation on his routes, and he averaged more yards after contact (4.02) and more yards after the catch (8.32) than all but one wide receiver drafted ahead of him. The late breakout age had Jones as a Day 3 prospect for me, and I still would have wanted the Bears to use some of their Day 3 capital to trade up and make a play on one of the wide receivers who slipped to the end of the second round. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if Jones is one of the most productive rookie receivers in the NFL this year due to his experience and the massive opportunity in Chicago.

Grade: B-

Round: 5 Pick: 168 / Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah

Braxton Jones is extremely raw despite being 23 years old as he has a basketball background and is relatively new to football. However, he’s a fit for the zone offense that new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy wants to run. Jones had one of the best PFF grades among offensive tackles in the country last year, albeit against lesser competition in the FCS, and he only allowed 19 career pressures in 921 pass-blocking snaps. I’ll be interested to see if he can beat out the 2021 fifth-round pick Larry Borom for the starting spot at right tackle.

Grade: C+

Round: 5 Pick: 174 / Dominique Robinson, DE, Miami (OH)

Robinson was one of my favorite Day 3 edge prospects as he had 28 total pressures in just his second season playing the edge position following his transition from wide receiver. In an edge class full of elite athletes, Robinson stands out with a 98th-percentile 41” vertical – that’s a better vert than any of the wide receivers in this class. Robinson came in at #128 on the Athletic’s media consensus big board, making this a high-value play. I love the idea of investing in upward trajectory and athleticism at a premium position.

Grade: A-

Round: 6 Pick: 186 / Zachary Thomas, OT, San Diego State

Not to be outdone by their division-rival Packers, who drafted offensive tackle Zach Tom earlier on Day 3, the Bears grabbed Zachary Thomas, brother of defensive end Cameron Thomas, in the sixth round. Thomas is another good fit for the Bears’ zone offense, and he can provide excellent depth as he started at left tackle and right tackle at San Diego State. Some scouts also see him as a guard in the NFL. Thomas adds more young talent to the Bears’ offensive line room, and it will be interesting to see who wins what starting spots.

Grade: B

Round: 6 Pick: 203 / Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor

I don’t mind investing in the running back position in the sixth round, but the Bears took the wrong Baylor running back here. Tristan Ebner is a worse athlete as he had a 4.80 RAS compared to Abram Smith’s 6.63 RAS. He also struggled with a 3.8 college YPC (4th percentile) and 13.1% college dominator rating (14th percentile) per PlayerProfiler, compared to 6.2 YPC (78th percentile) and 25.5% college dominator rating (53rd percentile). Ebner is another example of a high-character player for the Chicago locker room, and he has some special teams viability, especially as a return man. Still, his skill set is likely more of that of a UDFA.

Grade: C-

Round: 6 Pick: 207 / Doug Kramer, C, Illinois

Kramer was a five-year starter and three-time captain for a Big Ten program, and he’s a good scheme fit for a Bears’ offensive line that needs to continue to take shots on upside talent. Kramer tested as a high-end athlete with an 8.47 RAS, including a sub-5 second 40-yard dash. Kramer is another Bears rookie who will turn 24 years old before the start of the season, but that’s one of the only complaints about a high-character athlete with solid starting experience against top competition who fits the offense.

Grade: B-

Round: 7 Pick: 226 / Ja’Tyre Carter, OT, Southern University

Bears scout Breck Ackley revealed to SportsMockery that Chicago’s front office grew attached to Ja’Tyre Carter at the Senior Bowl when he held his own against some of the country’s top talent. That event is always significant for small-school prospects. On almost 500 pass-blocking snaps over the past two years, Carter allowed just four total pressures and no sacks per PFF. Perhaps Carter’s Senior Bowl performance can be parlayed into him holding his own against top competition in the NFL.

Grade: B+

Round: 7 Pick: 254 / Elijah Hicks, S, California

With experience playing safety and cornerback over his five collegiate seasons, Hicks found his best position to be safety over his final two years. Hicks had four interceptions, four pass breakups, and four forced fumbles over 16 games the past two seasons, and that ball production highlights his enthusiastic playstyle. With the emphasis placed on creating turnovers in new defensive coordinator Alan Williams’s defense, Hicks should fit right in with his nose for the football.

Grade: B-

Round: 7 Pick: 255 / Trenton Gill, P, North Carolina State

The Bears had the seventh-fewest punts inside the 20 in the NFL last year, but Football Outsiders still ranked their special teams’ efficiency as the seventh-best in the NFL. If they can shore up their punting game, perhaps they can field one of the better special teams units in the NFL again next season. Trenton Gill has a huge leg and holds NC State’s yards per punt record. His touch has also improved significantly over time, and he will be the Bears’ starting punter for the foreseeable future. Securing him here instead of battling other teams for a signature as a UDFA is an acceptable use of resources.

Grade: C+

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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