Mel Kiper sees the Chicago Bears address the D-Line early
The Chicago Bears are coming into the 2023 NFL Draft in search of help on the offensive and defensive line. The Bears neglected to help elite talent in the trenches during free agency this season opting to spend money on linebackers and depth pieces while they look to create value in the draft. Mel Kiper thinks the Bears attack the trenches hard in the first two rounds in his latest mock draft.
Kiper has the Bears taking Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright in the first round. That seems like a stretch at nine. The Bears could probably still draft Wright if they were to trade down. Kiper then predicts the Bears will draft two defensive linemen off the same college team in the second round.
Pick 53: Defensive end BJ Ojulari
Kiper projects the Bears to go after a defensive end before an interior defensive lineman. He thinks the Bears take Ojulari, who has a high ceiling but often was beaten in reps at the college level:
“When you watch Ojulari’s tape from 2021 and 2022, he often looks like a top-20 pick. Then there are some plays in which he gets blown off the ball and looks like a Day 3 selection. Can he put all of his talent together? He had 80 QB pressures over the past two seasons. The Bears badly need help getting after quarterbacks. If they don’t take an edge rusher at No. 9 overall, they have to add one here.”
Ojulari was given an overall grade of 76.3 from Pro Football Focus for his play last season. His pass rush grade was 83.0 in 2022. Ojulari earned 5.5 sacks last season and 36 solo tackles.
Pick 62: Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy
Kiper has the Bears taking Ojulari’s teammate a few picks later at 62. This pick might not be as exciting for Bears fans who are hoping for an upgrade to Justin Jones at the three-tech. Kiper thinks Roy would compete with offseason free agency acquisition Andrew Billings, who projects as a one-tech defensive tackle next season and is more of a run stopper than a pass rusher:
“Roy is a 305-pound nose tackle prospect who is powerful against the run. He’s hard to block. In this scenario, he could battle to start with Andrew Billings, who was signed this offseason. Chicago has to keep building up the trenches; I’ve gone O-line or D-line with each of their top three picks.”
Roy earned a 71.4 overall grade for his play last season by PFF. He recorded 27 total tackles and two sacks for LSU in 2022. Roy struggled with tackling last season, earning a 48.3 tackling grade. His miss rate was 15.7 for the season. However, his low score is misleading because Roy had rather high miss rates against quality teams in the SEC and quality Power Five opponents. His miss rate against Florida State was 33.3 percent, Florida was 50 percent, Tennessee was 20 percent, and Georgia was 25 percent.
Keeanu Benton is one player on Kiper’s draft board I’d take over Roy for the interior defensive line. He’s a much better pass rusher than Roy, earning six sacks for Wisconsin next season. The 21-year-old defensive tackle earned a 73.6 overall grade from PFF. Benton needs to improve his tackling in the NFL, but his 56.8 tackling grade is a little more polished than Roy’s last season.
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