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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Brendan Sugrue

10 players the Bears could pick in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft is finally here and in a matter of hours, the Chicago Bears will add another playmaker to their roster in hopes of improving for the upcoming season.

For weeks, draft experts, analysts, media members, and everyone in between has mocked various players to the Bears ever since they trade away the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for No. 9, wide receiver D.J. Moore and more (no pun intended). Whether it’s been offensive tackle, defensive lineman, cornerback, or even running back, the possibilities feel endless for what could happen.

We’ll know soon enough but for now, here are 10 possible names the Bears could select in the first round when they’re on the clock.

1. Paris Johnson Jr.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
  • Position: Tackle
  • School: The Ohio State

Paris Johnson Jr. is the highest-graded pure tackle in the draft according to many analysts. He possesses both the size and athleticism that would appeal to the Bears to help anchor their offensive line. A reunion with former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields could be in the works, but Johnson could have other suitors in front of the Bears’ selection.

2. Peter Skoronski

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski
  • Position: Tackle/guard
  • School: Northwestern

If Johnson is the best pure tackle in the draft, Peter Skoronski is the best overall offensive lineman. Skoronski has question marks at the next level about where he might fit in best, whether that’s tackle or inside at guard. He should be available when the Bears are up to pick, but does he fit the mold the Bears are looking for when it comes to linemen?

3. Jalen Carter

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Defensive tackle
  • School: Georgia

Arguably the most polarizing player in this year’s draft, Jalen Carter is considered the top prospect from a talent standpoint. He was dominant in his time at Georgia, but questions surrounding his off-the-field behavior, as well as his demeanor inside the locker room have lingered since the offseason began. At one point, it seemed impossible that Carter would be available when the Bears pick. Now, it’s a very real possibility. One that could leave Poles with a major decision when the Bears are up.

4. Darnell Wright

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Tackle
  • School: Tennessee

A few months ago, Darnell Wright was considered a fringe first-round prospect. Now, he could wind up being selected inside the top ten. Wright is a player the Bears are rumored to be enamored with after an impressive career at Tennessee. He’s a large, athletic tackle who can start almost immediately on the right side. He would solve a major need and allow the Bears to keep Braxton Jones at left tackle if he were to be picked.

5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Wide receiver
  • School: The Ohio State

Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the hottest name in the minds of Bears fans dating back to the beginning of 2022. That’s when he torched the Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl and had fans clamoring the team take him when he became eligible for the draft. Now that the time is here, the need for a star receiver has diminished with recent trade acquisitions of Moore and Chase Claypool. But Smith-Njigba is considered the top receiving prospect and should be a stud at the next level. It never hurts to load up on pass catchers, though it would be a surprise if the Bears went that direction early in the draft.

6. Tyree Wilson

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Edge rusher
  • School: Texas Tech

Tyree Wilson has closed the gap on Alabama’s Will Anderson as the potential top defensive player to be selected in the draft. But a recent mock draft from NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah showed Wilson falling to the Bears at No. 9, a surprise to many. Though there are questions about his frame and how he might handle NFL-caliber offensive linemen, Wilson would be an excellent selection for a defense that could not rush the passer last season.

7. Broderick Jones

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Tackle
  • School: Georgia

Another one of the top tackles in the draft, Broderick Jones hasn’t had the same fanfare that Johnson, Skoronski, or even Wright have had in recent weeks. But he’s another solid option that would be available to the Bears at No. 9 overall. Jones has elite athleticism but would likely need time to grow at one of the tackle positions. It would be a bit of a surprise to see the Bears take him if they stand pat, but not a big one.

8. Bijan Robinson

USA Today Sports
  • Position: Running back
  • School: Texas

Bijan Robinson is another polarizing player, but not for anything off the field. He’s the top running back in the class and is the best prospect at the position since Saquon Barkley came out five years ago. He would be an asset for the Bears offense, but does it make sense for them to take a running back that high in the draft when there are many other pressing needs? If the Bears were to pick Robinson, it would divide severely divide the fanbase.

9. Lukas Van Ness

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Edge rusher
  • School: Iowa

The Bears have raved about their ability to attract homegrown players to the team. Why not draft another? Lukas Van Ness, a native of Barrington, IL, is considered one of the better edge rushers in the draft behind Anderson and Wilson. While he may not make the most sense at No. 9, he would be a perfect player to take if the Bears were able to trade down. Van Ness didn’t start last year for Iowa, but made plenty of splash plays to jump off the film. He would be a huge asset to the Bears’ pass rush.

10. Devon Witherspoon

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: Illinois

Cornerback was the first pick made by the Bears last year. Could it happen again this year? Devon Witherspoon is one of the top players at the position and brings decent size and physicality to a defensive backfield. Pairing him with Kyler Gordon at nickel corner and Jaylon Johnson on the other side would give the Bears an elite secondary.

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