Hot Takes, Predictions for Bears Rookies After 2022 NFL DraftMay 2, 2022
Hot Takes, Predictions for Bears Rookies After 2022 NFL Draft
The Chicago Bears had no first-round picks this year, but that didn't stop them from becoming much busier over the second and third days.
Over the final six rounds of the draft, the Bears selected 11 players. They added three on the second day, all of whom could quickly become contributors in 2022. And on Day 3, they picked eight players over the final three rounds, continuing to add potential depth to their roster.
It was the first draft for Chicago under general manager Ryan Poles, who is trying to build a core that will lead to long-term success for the franchise. It may take a few years to know whether he was successful in doing that this offseason, but some rookies could show their potential as soon as this season.
With this year's rookie class now in place, here are some hot takes and predictions for the upcoming season.
Kyler Gordon Will Notch 4 Interceptions as a Rookie
The Bears' first pick in this year's draft came at No. 39, and they opted to fill one of the biggest holes on their defense. They needed a cornerback who could start on the opposite side of Jaylon Johnson, and Kyler Gordon should immediately fill that spot in 2022.
The 22-year-old may not have gotten as much hype as fellow Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie, who went to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round, but he has the potential to be a strong defensive back for the Bears.
Gordon spent four years with the Huskies and had his best showing in 2021, when he had 45 tackles and two interceptions in 12 games.
"The great thing about him is his movement skills are outstanding," Poles said, per Larry Mayer of the team's official website. "He's tough. [He has] what we call reactive athleticism, twitchy. He's going to help us in coverage big-time and make that whole defense even better."
One thing that Gordon has proved he's not afraid to do is take risks, as he showed the ability to jump in front of passes at the college level. That's why the prediction here is he'll be a key turnover creator for the Chicago defense in 2022, notching four interceptions during his rookie season.
Jaquan Brisker Will Be Among Bears' Top 3 Tacklers
Nine picks after the Bears took Gordon, they selected another defensive back, perhaps to the surprise of some. They needed a safety, but they also had holes they needed to address on offense.
Instead, Chicago stuck with defense and went with Penn State's Jaquan Brisker at No. 48.
The 23-year-old is an exciting prospect who put up consistently strong numbers for the Nittany Lions' defense over the past three seasons. It wouldn't be a shock to see him do a bit of everything for the Bears, and he likely will be an immediate starter alongside Eddie Jackson.
"The cool thing about him, one of those attributes you look for in players is, 'Can you make big plays in big moments?'" Poles said, per Mayer. "And he showed that over and over in his career."
The Bears may be improved this upcoming season, but they still might endure some struggles before completely turning the corner. So there could be a lot of opportunities for Brisker to run around the field and make tackles. That's how he'll end up among the team's top-three tackle leaders for 2022 during an impressive rookie campaign.
Velus Jones Jr. Will Prove Bears Didn't Reach to Draft Him
When the Bears took Tennessee's Velus Jones Jr. with the No. 71 pick in the third round, there were still some other wide receivers on the board who many draft experts had ranked higher. That group included South Alabama's Jalen Tolbert, Purdue's David Bell and Memphis' Calvin Austin III.
But Chicago went with Jones, who turns 25 on May 11 and was among the oldest players in the draft class. He possesses plenty of college experience, as he spent four years at USC before transferring to Tennessee, where he played the past two seasons.
He didn't put up huge receiving numbers over his first five years at the college level, mostly making his impact in the return game. But he had 62 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games for the Vols in 2021, raising his draft stock.
Not only can Jones impact the game in various ways, but he also has tremendous speed, which he showed by running the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds at the combine. So, while some may be skeptical of the pick now, he has a good chance to prove the critics wrong once he gets on the field for the Bears this season.