The 2022 NFL Draft begins on April 28, which means that The Game Haus will be writing draft profiles for every team. Each NFL team will be evaluated heading into this year’s draft, as our staff recaps their last season, highlights their needs, and pinpoints their potential 2022 NFL Draft targets. The Chicago Bears are the subject of today’s 2022 NFL Draft profile.
This season was supposed to be the start of a new era in Chicago after drafting a quarterback in the first round. Instead, it was the end of the Ryan Pace/Matt Nagy era in Chicago. The Bears have hired former Chiefs executive Ryan Poles and former Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to lead this franchise into their rebuild.
Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton was the team’s starting quarterback to begin the season after signing a one-year $10 million deal this offseason. After an abysmal start fans around the league were chanting for the Bears to switch over to rookie first-round pick Justin Fields. After two long weeks, the Bears finally named Fields the starter which added a slight spark to their offense. Fields started ten games for the Bears last season and played in twelve overall. He finished the season with 1,870 passing yards, seven passing touchdowns, and ten interceptions. Fields also had 420 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Dalton started six games for the Bears. He had 1,515 passing yards eight passing touchdowns, and nine interceptions. A major reason why the Bears’ quarterbacks did not play particularly well last season was because of the awful play of their offensive lines.
Third-year running back David Montgomery was limited to 13 games last season because of injury. In his absence, sixth-round pick rookie Khalil Herbert played well as the team’s primary ball carrier. Montgomery rushed for 849 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Herbert was second on the team with 433 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
There was a changing of the guard in the Bears’ receiving room this past year. Second-year receiver Darnell Mooney overtook former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson as the team’s primary receiver. Mooney led the team with 1,055 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Robinson was limited to 410 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown in 12 games played. Former second-round pick tight end Cole Kmet was second on the team in receiving with 612 receiving yards but went without a receiving touchdown this past year.
Chicago’s defense played as well as it could without great production from the offense to set them up and put them in a position to succeed. One bright spot on this defense was Pro Bowl pass rusher Robert Quinn who had a career year posting 18 sacks for the Bears defense. Rookie pass rusher Trevis Gipson was second on the team with seven sacks. Former defensive player of the year Khalil Mack had six sacks in seven games this past season. Roquan Smith led the team with 163 combined tackles. Safeties Tashaun Gipson and Deon Branch led the Bears with two interceptions each.
New general manager Ryan Poles has tried to set up his team for a major rebuild that will likely take place next offseason. He moved on from multiple high-profile players including Allen Robinson, James Daniels, Khalil Mack, Bilal Nichols, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks, and Andy Dalton. All of which besides Mack left the team in free agency. Chicago traded Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers for a second-round pick.
Chicago was able to fill in some holes on this roster with the limited cap space that was available to them. They signed notable free agents like former Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (one year $1.3 million), former Packers guard Lucas Patrick (two years $8 million), former Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (one year $965K), former Colts pass rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad (two years $8 million), former Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle (one year $4.1 million), former Chargers defensive tackle Justin Jones (two years $12 million), former Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian (two years $4 million), and former Jets tight end Ryan Griffin (one year $2.3 million).
2022 NFL Picks
Chicago will have six picks to use in the 2022 NFL Draft
First Round (zero picks):
Second Round (two picks): No. 39, No. 48
Third Round (one pick): No. 71
Fourth Round (zero picks):
Fifth Round (two picks): No. 148, No. 150
Sixth Round (one pick): No. 186
Seventh Round (zero picks):
Wide Receiver- Darnell Mooney has shown that he deserves to have a large role in this offense going forward. However, Chicago needs to surround Justin Fields with other receivers that are legitimate threats to opposing defenses.
Offensive Tackle- 2021 second-round pick Tevin Jenkins looked awful at left tackle this past season. Chicago should take another offensive tackle early to play at left tackle and return Jenkins to his natural position on the right side.
Cornerback- Chicago still hasn’t replaced former Pro Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller who they cut last offseason. They need to add a starting cornerback to play opposite Jaylon Johnson.
Defensive Tackle- Earlier this offseason the Bears attempted to sign Larry Ogunjobi. However, after a failed physical, they backed out of the deal and signed Justin Jones. The Bears still need another starting-caliber defensive tackle to play next to Jones in their new 4-3 defense.
Safety- Former Pro Bowl safety Eddie Jackson is coming off his second reason season in a row. The Bears are also starting DeAndre Houston-Carson in their defensive backfield. They should add a safety to compete with Houston-Carson next year in camp.
Linebacker- Matt Eberflus has a great track record of developing linebackers. Chicago should look for a player to potentially be Roquan Smith’s long-term partner in the middle of their defense.
Edge Rusher- Losing Khalil Mack seems like a major blow to this defense, but the Bears have some pass rushers that they could feel confident in next season. They should invest in a pass rusher considering the depth of this class to add to the solid group they have already.
Interior Offensive Line- Even though the Bears signed Lucas Patrick to a two-year deal, they need to improve the interior of their offensive line. They should invest in a better option than Dakota Dozier to replace James Daniels at right guard.
2022 Draft Targets
First Round: N/A
Pick No. 39: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
There could be anywhere between five and seven wide receivers selected in the first round. If the number of receivers taken in the first round is closer to five then Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson could slip into the second round. Chicago should pounce on adding a playmaker like Dotson in the second round if he is available at their first selection in the second round.
Dotson is often the forgotten potential first-round receiver but is a very talented player. He is known for his speed however, Dotson is an underrated route runner. His speed would be valued highly by head coach Matt Eberflus. He has made it known that he is trying to add speed to this roster.
If the Bears added Dotson they would have a trio of young offensive weapons in Dotson, Mooney, and Kmet for Justin Fields to grow and develop with. Even though Mooney has been with the team longer, Dotson could very well become the team’s number one receiver and be the replacement for Allen Robinson for this offense.
Pick No. 48: Cameron Jurgens, IOL, Nebraska
After an outstanding NFL combine Nebraska center Cameron Jurgens has solidified his status as a Day 2 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. It seems unlikely that he will get out of the second round since he is considered the second-best center in the draft by many scouts.
Jurgens is an extremely athletic interior offensive lineman who can play in multiple schemes. He specializes in run blocking and could improve as a pass blocker at the next level. He has all the tools to be a starting NFL center for a long time.
Chicago doesn’t necessarily need a center after signing Lucas Patrick. However, if they took Jurgens, the Bears could move Patrick back to his natural position at guard. Then the Bears would have a solidified interior offensive line who should keep pressure out of Justin Fields’ face and open up running lanes for David Montgomery.
Pick No. 71: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
In a crazy offseason for draft prospects, one prospect whose value hasn’t changed much is Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson. Since the beginning of the college football season, many projected Emerson to be a Day 2 selection. A few days from the 2022 NFL Draft, it seems that Emerson should go at some point on the second day of the draft.
Emerson is a very athletic cornerback despite being one of the biggest in this year’s class. He is versatile enough to be trusted in man and zone coverage in multiple schemes. Emerson has all the tools to be a solid starting cornerback in the league.
Chicago would hope that Emerson beats out Kindle Vildor and Thomas Graham Jr. for the outside cornerback slot opposite Jaylon Johnson. Either way, this would be a great selection for the Bears to add depth to a depleted cornerback room.