Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers who are keen enough to look ahead will be the ones that can grab themselves an edge over the competition. A large portion of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager that is in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those that prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.
Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and are not included in this exercise.
2022 Season Recap
The 2022 campaign for the Chicago Bears fell well below expectations. The Bears earned themselves the top overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft with only three wins. This organization is clearly in rebuild mode; they even traded one of their best defenders mid-season to acquire more draft capital. Everything about the 2022 season revolved around Justin Fields and getting an appropriate evaluation as a possible franchise quarterback.
2023 Free Agent Departures
The Chicago Bears will lose over 25 players to free agency. Having half of your roster departing doesn’t sound good. However, considering it was one of the worst rosters in the league, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This mass exodus leaves the 2023 Chicago Bears with almost $120 million to spend in free agency. Some key members can be re-signed, but others may be allowed to simply walk away. Key contributors include David Montgomery, Riley Reiff, H’Keal Harry, and Equanimeous St. Brown.
1.01 – Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
In complete transparency, I do not expect the Chicago Bears to hold this pick on night one of the 2023 NFL draft. There are multiple quarterback-needy teams and if the Bears believe in Fields, a topic for another article, expect them to trade back from a king’s ransom of draft picks. However, in this series, we are not making any trades, so the Bears make Jalen Carter the first overall pick of the 2023 NFL draft.
Jalen Carter is a monster defensive lineman from the University of Georgia. He measures 6’3” and 310 pounds, will be a day-one starter, and an immediate difference-maker along the defensive front. Many argue that a successful roster is built in the trenches, and Jalen Carter makes a great building block.
2.55 – Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
Wide receiver may be the most critical position for the Chicago Bears to improve this offseason. Unfortunately, the free agent class at the position leaves a lot to be desired. The draft is where the front office will have to tackle the issue, and that comes in the form of Jalin Hyatt. The 2022 Biletnikoff may be the perfect addition to the Chicago Bears offense.
Early declarations are one of the first filters that dynasty managers should look at when ranking rookie prospects. After his third year at Tennessee, Hyatt is declaring for the NFL draft. In the 2022 season, Jalin put up 1,267 yards on just 67 receptions. He has some great long speed on tape, and his combined performance will be exciting to keep track of. Hyatt and Darnell Mooney are the start of a beautiful wide receiver group for Justin Fields. Hyatt should be a late-round one consideration in rookie drafts and could be startable as soon as late 2023.
3.64 – Cooper Beebe, G, Kansas State
The Chicago Bears will have to spend time on the offensive line this off-season. Free agency should be the goal to obtain starting-level players, but the draft will fill in some depth and allow the development of younger talent. Cooper Beebe is an award-winning offensive lineman from Kansas State. He was named to the 2021 First Team All-Big-12. He has some great tape as a starting left tackle, but due to size limitations will project best as a guard when playing at the professional level.
4.96 – Zach Evans, RB, Mississippi
Whether or not David Montgomery is on the roster for 2023 will significantly impact the draft. In this scenario, we assume Montgomery has left in free agency, and the team needs the position. The only running backs under contract are Trestan Ebner and Khalil Herbert. Herbert has shown flashes of being a starting-caliber player, but some depth will be critical to 2023 roster construction. That is why Zach Evans is the right pick here.
In what seems to be a heavy theme for the 2023 draft class, Evans was a transfer when he moved from TCU to Ole Miss. He was named the starter at Ole Miss before the 2022 season but did not finish that way. True freshman Quinshon Judkins eventually surpassed him, a name quickly flying up devy rankings. Evans possesses some great high-end speed, and it will be interesting to see how he performs at combine testing. He needs to be more proven in the receiving game, which could cause concern.
This landing spot could see Evans slide to the second or third round of rookie drafts. He will compete with Kahlil Herbert for the starting job, and there is no guarantee he can win it. With so many talented running backs in this class, the landing spot will matter more than usual for rookie rankings. I would be hesitant to invest any premium draft capital in Zach Evans.
5.128 – Malachi Moore, CB, Alabama
Nick Saban may be the best defensive backs coach in the country. Bill Belichick is the only other coach that can give him a run for his money for that title. All NFL general managers should have a rule of thumb: if an Alabama defensive back falls in the draft, you must scoop him up. The Chicago Bears ranked bottom-ten in the league in coverage, and Moore would have an opportunity to impact day one. Malachi played a variety of positions at Alabama and could thrive if given only one to focus on.
5.142 – Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama
With two picks in the second round, the Chicago Bears take back-to-back Alabama defenders. To’oTo is a speedy, versatile linebacker who led the Alabama defense in tackles. His high football IQ and athleticism make him an effective weapon when dropped back in coverage. His biggest drawback is his size. At 6’2” and 228 pounds, he is easily moved off his position when trying to defend the run. Taking elite athletes late is a great draft strategy, and the right coaching staff can find an effective way to use Henry.
6.160 – Jalen Redmond, DL, Oklahoma
Jalen Redmond is a large defensive tackle from the University of Oklahoma. In the draft’s later rounds, general managers should be on the lookout for players with upside. Unfortunately, those players often come with some red flags. Redmond was recruited to Oklahoma as a defensive end and weighed only 230 pounds. He eventually weighed in at 300 pounds and was moved to the interior of the defensive line. The weight fluctuation, combined with some off-field issues, a DUI arrest in 2020, may take Redmond off some draft boards. However, the tape shows a high-upside player if the right coaching staff can reign him in.
6.180 – Starling Thomas, CB, UAB
Starling Thomas is a senior at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He is 6’0” and weighs 195 pounds. Last season he played 4128 coverage snaps and allowed only 22 receptions on 58 targets. This accounted for only 257 passing yards given up at the corner position. A team can never have too many defensive backs, and Thomas would make for some great depth.
7.192 – BJ Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin
BJ Thompson is a senior defensive end from Stephen F. Austin University in Texas. He measures 6’6” and 235 pounds. Thompson has nine career sacks in only 16 games played. He has shown efficiency but has trouble staying on the field. We are fine with the upside to play this late in the draft and hope Thompson can transform into a contributor.
2023 Fantasy Impact
As stated at the beginning of this article, the 2022 season was all about putting systems in place to help the development of Justin Fields. The same will be said of the 2023 off-season. The Chicago Bears have the most money to spend and some of the best draft capital in the NFL. All of this must be deployed to help Justin Fields succeed in 2023.
The two fantasy-relevant players from this mock are Zach Evans and Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt would be the more enticing selection for me in dynasty rookie drafts. The Bears bring in a wide receiver in free agency to pair with Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool. Cole Kmet is also emerging as a viable pass-catching option. The hype for the 2023 Chicago Bears may be similar to what we saw for the 2022 Detroit Lions. If that is the case, I may be looking to sell some of these names before the season begins. Fields must take a big step forward as a passer to support multiple fantasy-relevant options.
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I hope you enjoyed this piece in our Offseason Primer series. Be sure to check back often, as I will cover all fantasy-relevant positions. For more content like this, follow me on Twitter @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!
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