The Chicago Bears don’t have a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to add quality starting-caliber prospects in the second round.
General Manager Ryan Poles is armed with two top-50 selections — No. 39 and 48 — and is expected to use them on offense. This offseason was billed as centering around quarterback Justin Fields, but there’s been little done in free agency to help the second-year pro. That should change in the second round, according to ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay, who has the Bears double-dipping on the offensive side of the ball in his latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
At No. 39, McShay sends the Bears Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith, who’s among this year’s highest-upside prospects.
“Chicago dealt its first-round pick to the Giants last April to land Justin Fields in the draft, so this is currently the team’s first selection for 2022,” McShay wrote. “Protecting Fields should be high on the priority list, and Smith is the top tackle still on the board. He has franchise-tackle upside but will require time to get there.”
At No. 48, the Bears land a downfield playmaker at wide receiver in South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert.
“This is a little bit of a reach, but the Bears can’t leave Round 2 without a receiver, and Tolbert is smooth with the speed to make vertical plays and produce after the catch,” wrote McShay. “His NFL route tree will take some time to develop, but he would be a high-upside pick. Remember, Allen Robinson II signed with the Rams, leaving Darnell Mooney atop the Bears’ depth chart.”
Adding an offensive tackle and wide receiver early in the 2022 NFL draft should silence some of Poles’ critics, but the Bears can’t count on two rookies to be the biggest upgrades of the offseason. Expect Poles to remain active in veteran free agency as the calendar flips toward the summer months.