Chicago Bears: Top Options At Pick 9 In The 2023 NFL Draft

2023 NFL Mock Draft, Paris Johnson Jr.Ohio State Football Spring Game
2023 NFL Mock Draft, Paris Johnson Jr.Ohio State Football Spring Game /

Which 2023 NFL Draft prospects could the Chicago Bears select at pick 9? There are no shortage of options depending on free agency moves.

The Chicago Bears made a big move in the 2023 NFL Draft, trading down from the top pick to the ninth overall selection in a mega deal with the Carolina Panthers. That deal landed them picks 9 and 61 in the 2023 NFL Draft, plus a first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025. Wide receiver D.J. Moore was also included in the deal, giving quarterback Justin Fields a true WR1.

Chicago Bears Top Options At Pick 9 In The 2023 NFL Draft

The Bears have already made some moves in free agency, signing linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, as well as guard Nate Davis. With more moves to potentially follow, it will bring more clarity into their potential plans with that ninth overall selection. Who could it be with that pick as it stands? Let’s look at the options based on different adjectives.

Very Sensible: Paris Johnson Jr., Peter Skoronski

There is plenty to be determined in free agency, but as of this writing, some of the top tackles have already come off the board in Jawaan Taylor, Andrew Wylie, and Mike McGlinchey. There are other options out there, most notably Orlando Brown, but for now, let’s say the Bears find interior help without a tackle.

Both Paris Johnson Jr. and Peter Skoronski are sensible selections at pick 9.

With Johnson, you have the perfect player for zone running, whether it be inside zone or outside zone/wide zone. Johnson has the rare quicks out of his stance to reach block, sustain blocks on the move, and reach the second level with little resistance. His footwork to recover is great, and his hand placement consistently got better over the course of the season.

As for Skoronski, he’s the most technically refined at this point. His hands always give him early leverage, especially as a run blocker. He can displace defenders with down blocks, and that functional strength in the lower half gives him the advantage. Yes, the short arms are somewhat of a concern, but tackles can do just fine out there with proper technique and footwork. Skoronski has that, with well-timed and varied strikes as a pass protector to keep defenders away from his chest. Long arms be darned, Skoronski is darn good and very safe.

Sensible: Myles Murphy

There’s another sensible selection for the Chicago Bears on the defensive side of the ball. They need to get after the quarterback, and while Myles Murphy’s production doesn’t jump off the charts, his explosive first step, impressive contact point strength, and length to keep tackles off balance give him a three-down profile.

Upside Swing: Lukas Van Ness, Broderick Jones

Upside swings are plenty warranted in the draft, and the 2023 NFL Draft presents a couple options in that department.

In terms of a pass rusher, Lukas Van Ness has impressive upside. As of now, Van Ness played both on the edge an on the interior. He won on the interior with length, power, and quicks, but his plan on the edge was generating enough momentum to hopefully knock you backwards and on the ground. The pass rush plan must get better, but he’s young with plenty of athletic traits to build a repertoire down the road.

Broderick Jones is another with tantalizing upside, this time at tackle. There isn’t anyone better than him in space and on the move, where he has the identity of a bulldozer and a wrecking ball. His athleticism gives him the ability to recover with his footwork, and his big build gives him the ability to win with size and strength. However, technically, his hands are very wide to catch edge rushers, and giving up the chest won’t fly in the league. His balance in both phases needs work, akin to Evan Neal last year. He has things to iron out, but with the right coaching, he can be a star.

Best Value: Devon Witherspoon

Last year, the Chicago Bears opted for secondary early, drafting both Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. They still have Jaylon Johnson, so why mention Devon Witherspoon? Johnson could be gone after 2023, and value could dictate this selection.

The Bears could use an attitude at corner like Witherspoon. He plays with his hair on fire and can set a tone physically. His tackling skills are great and he brings the enforcer mentality of a safety. His technique in the back pedal is excellent, he transitions effortless, and can close space in an instant. Witherspoon plays the defender well at the catch point and can turn and find the ball when he’s got the chance. Don’t rule this one out just yet.

Fun: Jaxon Smith-Njigba

So, from this lens, we look at a potential Brown signing at tackle to secure bookends going forward, but even if not, this would be a fun 2023 NFL Draft pairing for the Chicago Bears. D.J. Moore gives the Bears a guy who can win down the field and has the chops to win on his own as well. Both Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool are free agents after 2023, so why not Jaxon Smith-Njigba?

Smith-Njigba is a three-phase winner, with exceptional short area quicks in his route breaks, a great sense of identifying coverage and how to attack leverage. His pacing variance gives him an avenue to win downfield and open things up for himself underneath. Smith-Njigba attacks the catch point and can separate himself and make tough catches. Post-catch, Smith-Njigba is a nightmare, with great catch-to-attack transitional skills to make defenders miss, along with creative moves and a good stiff arm.

Is it the best use of resources? Not really, but a Smith-Njigba/Moore duo would be excellent for Fields.

Extremely Fun: Bijan Robinson

Speaking of a bad use of resources, a running back in the first round? This isn’t to say the Chicago Bears should do this, but there’s a strong chance that Bijan Robinson is easily the best player available when they’re on the clock.

If the Bears look to move down again, then it’s an easier pill to swallow. Robinson is an electric runner with all the answers to the question of forcing missed tackles. He’s well built to run through contact, and his lateral quicks and slalom style as a runner keep his options open. Robinson is a wizard who could thrive in the running game with Fields and be a very strong pass-catching threat.