Yes, it is way too early to have a mock draft. Yes, I did one anyway and am writing about it. This is an early draft and the opinions on the players are just that: opinions. This is before the college season, so some players could be unavailable at their spots, whether they move up or down the board. That said, let’s get into the first mock draft of 2023.
1.05. Will Anderson Jr, Edge, Alabama*
Will Anderson Jr. is the projected best player coming into the 2022-23 college season. He had 17.5 sacks and 31 TFL in 15 games last season playing for Alabama. He came in fifth for the Heisman for his efforts. He is a freak of a human being, standing 6’4” and weighing 235 pounds. There’s no way to tell what his 2022 season will look like but it would be very surprising to see him drop from the top three. The only way I see it is if the top three teams are very QB needy and take the top QBs. If Anderson Jr. is there at five, I take him for the Bears 10 times out of 10.
1.24. Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern*
Peter Skoronski is a beast at 6’4”, 295 lbs. He is a local kid from Park Ridge, Illinois. He is considered the best tackle prospect in the 2023 draft. In his sophomore season, he was on the All-Big Ten First Team and started all 12 games. Skoronski could slide in at either tackle spot and complete the offensive line. With the uncertainty of the young lineman on the Bears, Skoronski is the obvious choice so far into the first round.
2.43. Nehemiah Pritchett, CB, Auburn*
Nehemiah Pritchett is 6’1” and 183 lbs. He’s a senior at Auburn and has played 30 games for them. He has two interceptions and 17 pass breakups. He played WR in high school, which helps him make plays on the ball. He is a 2022 break-out candidate with Roger McCreary being picked by the Tennessee Titans in the 2022 draft. It is tough to say before the 2022 college season but Pritchett has a real chance to be a top CB in college football. Taking him in the second round would be a steal and would round out the Bear’s defensive backfield.
3.66. Javion Cohen, OG, Alabama
Javion Cohen is 6’4” and 305 lbs. He is a junior who started all the games(14) he played in his sophomore season. He didn’t give up a sack in those 14 starts. He has tackle experience and starts at guard, meaning he can play anywhere on the line and can provide much needed depth on the offensive line.
4.102. Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
Cedric Tillman is a redshirt senior who is 6’3” and 215 lbs. He had 1081 and 12 touchdowns last season with Tennessee. Tillman is a large body, athletic receiver who can provide the X-reciever the Bears need. He is another player who is looking to breakout in the 2022 season. With his teammate Velus Jones Jr, who was drafted to the Bears, leaving, he looks to be the top target for Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. He can be a playmaker for the Bears along side his old teammate Jones Jr.
5.134. Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama
Jermaine Burton is a 6’0” and 200 lbs junior who plays for Alabama and transferred from Georgia after the 2020-21 season. At Georgia, he had 901 yards and 8 touchdowns. He is another breakout player for the 2022 season. He already has two touchdowns in one game for Alabama this season. He is an explosive route runner with good hands. He may not be available in the fifth round by the end of the college season but for now he is a steal so far down the board. Burton would round out the receiver group and add to a young, on-the-rise group.
7.198. Nick Hampton, Edge, Appalachian State
Nick Hampton is a 6’3”, 235 lbs redshirt junior at App State. He has 19.5 sacks and 30.5 TFL in four seasons at App State. He has a large variety of pass-rush moves and can get around the offensive line quickly. He is small for his position but has good length and is quick. He is a high upside pick, not unlike Dominique Robinson, the Bears sixth round pick this past draft. While he might be raw, he is a great talent for the seventh round and is a classic Ryan Poles draft pick.