Offensive and Defensive Lineman the Bears Could Target in the Top 64 Picks of the NFL Draft

The Bears have fully addressed Linebacker, Receiver, and Runningback to start the 2023 league year. However, they haven’t addressed the Offensive or Defensive lines to the extent some thought they would. Here are some guys they could add in the first 64 picks of the draft.

Paris Johnson Jr. – OT Ohio State
Height: 6’6
Weight: 313 lbs
Age: 21

– Strengths: Size, Length, Athleticism, Versatility
– Weaknesses: Power, Hands, Footwork

Paris Johnson Jr. has been looked at by most as a top 15 player in the draft. He has prototypical left tackle size at 6’6 313 lbs. He doesn’t have any need to grow into his frame or anything like that. He has great length at left tackle that allows him to extend and push back against defenders without leaning in with his body. Johnson has above average athleticism that allows him to move well not only as a pulling tackle but also in the screen game and the run game. He has shown the ability to play both Guard and Tackle in his time at Ohio State, however I think most teams will see Johnson as a Left Tackle. Johnson is nowhere near a finished product. He has a lot of work to do to round into the player he has the potential to be. While his length is nice, I’m not sure how much good it does him with his power that he puts into the defender when blocking. His hands don’t have much power and he also doesn’t have good placement with his hands, which puts Johnson in low leverage situations more often than he should be. His footwork is sloppy, especially when he is getting beat. When getting beat, it’s important to keep your feet calm and rely on your strength to regain high leverage, which is a problem for Johnson because he doesn’t have good enough recovery strength. While Johnson’s athleticism is nice and he has tools, he has to develop his mechanics a good bit in order to be a good starting Tackle in the NFL. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he takes the Andrew Thomas trajectory

Joe Tippmann – Center Wisconsin
Height: 6’6
Weight: 313 lbs
Age: 21

– Strengths: Anchor, Athleticism, Blitz Pickup, IQ
– Weaknesses: Pad Level, Leverage, Balance

Joe Tippmann should be getting more buzz in the draft community as a high draft pick. He isn’t really that far off of John Michael-Schmitz as a prospect. Tippmann has a really strong anchor. He forces the defender to have a hard time disengaging and shedding his blocks and is also really difficult to overpower. Tippmann plays with a lot of athleticism. He definitely has more athleticism than the traditional Center. His above average athleticism combined with his large size at the Center position makes it easy for Tippmann to pick up blitzers and drop them to the ground. To play Center, you have to have an advanced knowledge of the offense you’re in as well as the defense you’re going up against, which Tippmann clearly has. Tippmann doesn’t keep a very good pad level. He often keeps his pads higher than they should be. The high pad level puts Tippmann in low leverage situations more often than you’d like to see. The bad pad level and low leverage Tippmann plays with can make it easy to knock Tippmann off his feet and onto the turf. Overall, Tippman is almost as solid as they come as a Center prospect, but there are some technical points in his game that need a bit of refinement, but that doesn’t knock him down my board too much. I think he’ll be a quality starting Center for a long time.

Lukas Van Ness – EDGE Iowa
Height: 6’5
Weight: 275 lbs
Age: 21

– Strengths: Power, Size, Get off, Length
– Weaknesses: Pass Rush Moves, Bend, Block Shedding, Footwork

I’m not particularly high on Lukas Van Ness. I’ve seen him mocked as high as top 8, but in my eyes, he’s not a first round player. Van Ness’ best move is his bullrush. He uses it all the time and is actually quite effective with it. He’s got prototypical EDGE rusher size. You can just see that he’s built differently, especially in his upper body with his shoulders. Van Ness has a very quick get off the line of scrimmage. He reacts to the snap quickly and has a good burst out of his stance. I mentioned his broad shoulders previously, but he’s got outstanding arm length as well. Van Ness loves trying to use the long arm move. However, Van Ness simply doesn’t have the collection of pass rush moves that separate the good players from the great ones. Van Ness isn’t a particularly bendy player off the edge which limits his pressure rate. I think not having bend is a very problematic thing for EDGE rushers and limits their future success. He’s not able to disengage from blockers at a very effective rate, which also limits his number of pressures. He also doesn’t have the footwork that you’d like to see from a sound edge rusher. This causes Van Ness to end up on the ground more than he should.

Adetomiwa Adeboware – EDGE Northwestern
Height: 6’2
Weight: 282
Age: 22

– Strengths: Athleticism, Hands, Pass Rush Moves, Pad Level
– Weaknesses: Tackling, Pursuit, Change of Direction, Potential Role

Adebaware is a guy whose stock has been rising since the combine, and for good reason. He’s a great athlete. He tested like one of the best athletes ever for a guy his size. Adeboware uses his hands pretty well. He places them in the right spot to create possible leverage and his hands are also strong enough to make him a tough matchup. He has a nice bag of pass rushing moves that allow him to win both on the interior and the outside. He also plays with good pad level, which is another way that he creates leverage for himself making it easy for him to win. Adeboware needs to get better at tackling. He quite simply misses way too many tackles in the backfield. He doesn’t have fluid hips, which makes him bad at changing directions when runners cut back. This also makes his pursuit bad and it’s a big part of why he misses tackles. I have some questions about the role that Adebaware will play in an NFL defense. I think a lot of teams will see him as a 3 tech, but some could see him as a 5 tech EDGE rusher. Overall, I like some of the potential Adebawore flashes, but there are some things he has to work on to be an effective NFL player.

Tuli Tuipulotu – EDGE USC
Height: 6’3
Weight: 266 lbs
Age: 20

– Strengths: Pass Rush Moves, Versatility, Sack Production, Plan, Block Shedding
– Weaknesses: Length, Range, Athleticism, Change of Direction

Tuli Tuipulotu was propped up as an Interior Defensive Line prospect until he came in at 266 lbs at the combine as opposed to the 290 lbs in which he was listed at by USC. When you turn on the tape, Tuipulotu wins with a variety of different pass rushing moves. For a guy as young as Tuipulotu, he clearly is really developed as a pass rusher. There seems to be a question of where he’ll play at the next level, and while I am very confident in him being an EDGE rusher, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him at either 3 tech or 5 tech. As I’ve said, Tuipulotu seems to be developed a good bit as a pass rusher, and that shows up on the stat sheet. It’s not even box score watching, but a guy who has 13.5 which led the country, is clearly a good pass rusher. He clearly has a pre-snap plan to attack the player who’s defending him, usually an Offensive Tackle, and he’s good at executing that plan. Tuipulotu is very good at getting off and disengaging from blocks, freeing him up to make a play in the run game. While I like Tuipulotu, I see some issues. He doesn’t have very good length. This limits his tackling window and can be restrictive in the run game. He isn’t a top class athlete like the modern EDGE rusher. He’s just a bit too stocky to be an elite athlete in my eyes. His stockiness also doesn’t let him change direction as well as you’d like to see. Overall, I’m a big fan of Tuipulotu’s game. I like him more than I like Lukas Van Ness and Keion White, both of whom have been mocked in the first round, a place I’ve never seen Tuipulotu mocked.

Mazi Smith – IDL Michigan
Height: 6’3
Weight: 323 lbs
Age: 21

– Strengths: Size, Athleticism, Block Shedding, Pass rush moves
– Weaknesses: Conditioning, Lack of TFLs, IQ

Mazi Smith was quite a surprise to me. He really reminds me a lot of Jalen Carter, so if you want a discount version of Carter on day 2, Mazi Smith is your guy. Smith has a good size and frame to him, one that is prototypical for the position. He’s a really strong athlete, I was quite disappointed that he didn’t test at the combine because I think he would’ve done really well. Smith does a good job getting off of his blocks in the run game to make a play on the Runningback. Smith has some of the best pass rushing moves of any Defensive Tackle in this class. I’d say he probably ranks 3rd in that area right behind Jalen Carter and Calijah Kancey. Smith seemed to be poorly conditioned. As the tempo of the opposing offense increased, Smith appeared gassed and not at his full energy capacity. Smith struggled at times to make stops behind the line of scrimmage, sometimes even if he had a free path to the Quarterback or the Runningback. Smith also at points displayed a lower IQ than you’d like to see. Sometimes he’d run into double teams that he didn’t need to as opposed to simply winning his 1 on 1 matchup. Overall, I really do like Mazi Smith. I think he’s a high ceiling player who also has a high floor as a good run stuffer right away, with the opportunity to develop as a lineman who plays 70% or more of the snaps every game.
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