The Chicago Bears entered the 2022 NFL Draft with plenty of holes on their roster but without many picks to help fill them.
Without a first round pick — sent to the New York Giants in the trade for Justin Fields in last year’s draft — the Bears made two picks in the second round this year and one in the third. They used those picks on defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Baker, as well as wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
As Day 3 started, the Bears had just 3 more draft picks in their arsenal. Before it was all said and done, new general manager Ryan Poles traded back multiple times and turned that into a cache of 8 draft picks — two fifth-round picks, three sixes and three sevens.
The Bears addressed an array of needs with those picks. Whether or not fifth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks can step up and make an impact will be determined in the coming season or two. But in the meantime, it at least gives the Bears more bodies to fill the roster and create some competition.
Here’s a look at the Bears’ 2022 draft class.
Round 2, Pick 7: Kyler Gordon, CB/Washington
Much to the dismay of many Bears fans, the team did not address the offense with their first pick of the second night. They instead filled another big need in the defensive backfield with the selection of Gordon. The Bears were burned by several potent passing offenses last season and needed to shore up the secondary. Gordon was a first-team All-Pac 12 player in 2021. The hope is that he is able to make the leap into a starting role opposite Jaylon Johnson.
Round 2, Pick 16: Jaquan Baker, S/Penn State
If Bears fans were disappointed about the team not selecting a wide receiver or other offensive player with their first pick in Round 2, they must have been even more peeved with the team’s second of the night. The Bears went back to the defensive well with the selection of Baker, who has a nose for the football. The team badly needed bodies at safety and they could definitely use another playmaker to start opposite Eddie Jackson. Jackson has a big contract and could be on the outs with the new management if he doesn’t live up to that contract in 2022. Adding Baker will help solidify that secondary.
Round 3, Pick 7: Velus Jones Jr., WR/Tennessee
The Bears finally addressed the offense with their third-round pick and the selection of Jones Jr. out of Tennessee. Surveying the Twittersphere yielded mixed reviews from Bears Nation. Many were happy the team finally went offense, but plenty of others responded with, “who?” While Jones isn’t exactly a household name, that doesn’t mean the guy can’t play. Jones ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the combine and can immediately step into a special teams role. But I also think Jones fills that “speedy chess piece” role that is all the rage in today’s NFL passing game. Some fans will complain about his age — he’ll be 25 years old as a rookie — but I think that’s utter nonsense. If the guy is no good, he’ll be gone before he’s 30, anyway. But if he is good, the average NFL lifespan is less than 5 years, so he won’t be an old guy during his time with the Bears either.
Round 5, Pick 25: Braxton Jones, OT/Southern Utah
The team attempted to beef up the offensive line with the selection of Jones in Round 5. Jones is a massive human being at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. Despite his size, he also has good footwork and quickness. He has the nasty side that Poles is looking for in his offensive linemen. Jones will come in and push last year’s rookies, Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.
Round 5, Pick 31: Dominique Robinson, OLB/Miami (OH)
I’m very intrigued by the selection of Robinson. He’s a raw player, to be sure, having played “edge rusher” since just 2020. He was a high school quarterback who began his college career as a wide receiver, if you can believe that. He’s a developmental prospect, but with his size and speed, he can definitely fill in as a rotational pass rusher. New head coach Matt Eberflus likes to rotate his defensive linemen in and out in waves to wear down opposing offensive lines, and that is a perfect role for a still-learning, explosive young player.
Round 6, Pick 7: Zachary Thomas, OT/San Diego State
Once you get to Round 6, you really start throwing darts at a corkboard hoping to find some hidden gems. The Bears addressed the offense line again with the selection of Thomas with the first of three picks in this round. Another player who plays with toughness, he will require some coaching at the next level to be able to play in the NFL. Whether or not he makes the cut will remain to be seen, but he adds to the competition.
Round 6, Pick 25: Trestan Ebner, RB/Baylor
The Bears went offense with their second pick in Round 6, selecting Ebner to add to their running back room. Ebner ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the combine and was a strong special teams player in college. He’ll have a chance to compete for kick or punt return duties and be a depth piece in the offensive backfield.
Round 6, Pick 29: Doug Kramer, C/Illinois
With their final pick in Round 6, the Bears again addressed the offensive line. Kramer is an experienced player at this point in his career, taking advantage of an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. He played five seasons in college and started 48 games. He’s not a big guy, which really limits his opportunities to center. But because of his stature, he’s able to play with leverage, and he’s a smart, consistent player on top of it.
Round 7, Pick 5: Ja’Tyre Carter, OG/Southern
Carter is another long shot to make the Bears’ final roster, but kudos to them for taking another stab at an offensive lineman. He doesn’t appear to be an explosive player, but he has the attitude and grittiness that fits the prototype of offensive lineman the team wants to employ.
Round 7, Pick 33: Elijah Hicks, S/California
The Bears got rid of one Hicks this offseason and added another one via the draft. Elijah Hicks is an experienced defensive back who made 46 starts in college. He transitioned from cornerback to safety. He’s a high-character guy with an aggressive style of play.
Round 7, Pick 34: Trenton Gill, P/NC State
The Bears need to replace the departed Pat O’Donnell who crossed the state line and is now playing for the enemy up north. I’m not one who believes in spending draft capital on specialists (and this is coming from a guy who played kicker in college). It’s just not worth it. The Bears could have rolled the dice to see if Gill lasted into free agency. And if not, I’m not sure the Bears couldn’t have landed one of the 32 best punters on the planet. But, maybe the Bears see something special in Gill and didn’t think any other players at that point were worth a gamble.