One player from Each Conference the Bears should Draft in 2023

Most of the players drafted in this upcoming NFL Draft will come from a power five college football conference. These conferences being the ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12. and Pac 12. I will give one player from each conference the Bears should consider drafting. These guys will likely all go in the first couple of days of the draft.

ACC- Pitt DT Calijah Kancey
Strengths: Power, Athleticism, Energy, Pass Rush Moves, Instincts
Weaknesses: Size, Mass, Scheme Questions, Some Missed Tackles

When you talk about some of the highest upside players in this draft, you hear Jalen Carter, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, and Darnell Washington’s names pretty consistently. Those guys all have endless physical tools to work with. Calijah Kancey isn’t far off having the same level of potential. He plays with so much power, especially in his hands. He is always using them to his advantage to put him in high leverage situations. Not saying he’s going to end up at this level of player, but he has Aaron Donald-like athleticism at the Defensive Tackle position. This guy has a high level of passion and competitiveness on the field during every game. Very rarely do you see him worn out. One of the only ways a guy his size can win on the inside is with a good variety of pass rushing moves. His bull rush, swipe, and dip are all exceptional. He displays strong instincts, especially in run defense. Kancey’s size is absolutely a knock. There is really only one elite defensive tackle who is 280 pounds, and that’s former Pitt star Aaron Donald. He doesn’t have the lower body mass to hold his ground against combo blocks. There are a lot of questions about if the way that Pitt uses him can be something that translates into the NFL. He also has a hard time making some easy tackles. While he is an absolute pressure machine, he has trouble actually finishing the play. Get used to hearing Kancey’s name, because he should be a riser up draft boards.

SEC – LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari
Strengths: Bend, Strength, Athleticism, Leadership
Weaknesses: Length, Scheme flexibility, Experience as a down EDGE rusher

BJ Ojulari is a guy I didn’t know much about heading into my evaluation process. He was a definite surprise. He shows a lot of bend off the edge. He dips his entire body really well which allows him to get to the QB. Ojulari is a complete bully with his bull rush. He just dog walks offensive tackles and there were multiple instances where Ojulari wouldn’t have to disengage from the tackle to make an impact on the Quarterback. He moves really well in the open field. LSU actually dropped him into coverage pretty frequently and he was never a complete liability. He’ll never be a middle linebacker, he’s an EDGE rusher. However, Ojulari is definitely a sound mover and can be trusted off ball a fair amount. Ojulari was given the privilege of wearing the number 18 for LSU. This is a badge of honor that represents being great on and off the field. It’s been reported that Ojulari is very loved among his teammates. Ojulari isn’t very lengthy. This forces him to put a lot of his body weight into his bull rush. He doesn’t have the scheme flexibility that some teams covet. The inability to be scheme flexible is because he wasn’t used as a down EDGE rusher very much because of LSU’s scheme. I don’t see him able to play as a 4-3 D End, but more so a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Big Ten – Michigan State WR Jayden Reed
Strengths: Speed, Route Running, IQ, Route tree
Weaknesses: Hands, Versatility, Releases

Jayden Reed had a great week at the Senior Bowl, and after I watched some more film, he rose up my board. He’s mostly known as a guy with serious speed. Whenever Reed is on the field, his speed will affect the way defenses play against your offense based on his presence alone. He’s a good and shifty route runner. If he’s able to get off the line, he can get off coverage at a good rate. Reed shows good IQ at the WR position. He’s good at settling down in zones and is also really good at making himself available to the Quarterback. He ran a variety of routes at Michigan State, which is something that will definitely translate to the NFL. Reed definitely has some question marks with his hands. He doesn’t make a lot of pure hands catches and relies on the ball going into his frame a lot when making catches. I don’t see Reed as a super versatile player. I see him as a strict slot receiver. He also has some problems against press coverage and against jam techniques. Overall, I like Reed more than I expected, and he could be a capable number 3 or number 4 receiver right away in almost any offense he would step into.

Big 12 – Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson
Tyree Wilson is a really interesting evaluation. He has some immaculate potential, but there’s a lot of work to be done to make himself as good as his potential is. There are very few pass rushers in the NFL with the size that Wilson has. His build sort of reminds me of Travon Walker, the 2022 number 1 overall pick. He has a ton of athleticism. He can drop into coverage, but it’s not necessarily a strength of his. When he’s in the open field, he’s extremely fast for his size and able to make the open field tackles. Tyree Wilson is extremely versatile in terms of what scheme he’s able to play. I would definitely understand if a team kept him at EDGE, but I personally see him as a 3-4 Defensive End, which would put him more as an interior defensive lineman. He has great length that comes along with his incredible size, which allows him to have great power in his arms and hands. This allows him to win with strictly a bull rush. While Wilson has a bull rush, he doesn’t have much in his bag of pass rushing moves, which obviously limits his ways to win. If an offensive line can find out how to stop his bull rush, he can become somewhat of a non-factor. Once this happens, he doesn’t play with as high of a motor as he would when he’s firing on all cylinders and winning his reps. He also often overruns the Quarterback if he happens to beat the tackle, especially if the tackle is deep into his pass protection drop. There’s a lot to like about Wilson, but the team who takes him may have to be patient for him to develop. I’m listing him as an EDGE because that’s where he played in college.

Pac 12 – Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
Strengths: Route Running, Releases, Hands, Speed
Weaknesses: Blocking, Strength, Contact Balance

I really like Dalton Kincaid. I have so much confidence in his ability to transition to the NFL and be a good player right away. He’s a great and savvy route runner that allows him to separate from Safeties and Linebackers. A good way he sets up his already nice routes is his different releases that he uses to get off the line of scrimmage. His hands are super reliable and it’s very clear that the Quarterback will be able to trust him no matter what the situation is. Whether he’s wide open or has to make a contested catch, the Quarterback should feel pretty good about throwing the football to Kincaid. He also moves really well in space compared to the other Tight Ends in this draft. Kincaid is one-dimensional in my opinion. He’s not a good blocker. He struggles to stay connected to defensive ends, linebackers, and defensive backs and often ends up on the ground. He also doesn’t have much ability to shed contact with the ball in his hands, and often gets tackled on first or second contact from the defender. He’s just not that strong. Overall, I like Kincaid a lot and have him close to TE1, but Mayer being more physical as a blocker and with the ball in his hands is what keeps Mayer over Kincaid for me.
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