LAKE FOREST – The Bears entered Saturday with only three picks remaining on the NFL draft’s final day. Through trades, they turned that into a stockpile of eight picks.
The Bears made deals with the Chargers, Bills, Texans and Bengals. When the dust settled, the Bears held two fifth-round picks, three sixth-round picks and three seventh-round picks Saturday.
In total, the Bears came away from draft weekend with 11 players.
“Any time you have more ammunition, the better in terms of getting hits and that was the thought process,” general manager Ryan Poles said.
In particular, the Bears addressed the offensive line with four linemen drafted Saturday.
“We added competition,” Poles said. “When you have competition, when we all have competition, it brings the best out of you.”
Here are the eight players they drafted Saturday.
Southern Utah tackle Braxton Jones, 168th overall pick
Jones was a three-year starter at left tackle at Southern Utah and a two-time FCS All-American. He is a 6-foot-5, 310 pounds tackle who grew up in Utah. He has long arms at 35 3/8 inches.
“He has the talent to compete for a position, for sure,” Bears scout David Williams said. “He’s got the bend, he’s got the footwork, he has the pre-requisite length and frame that you look for in a tackle.”
Going from the FCS level to the NFL will likely be an adjustment for Jones, but he has the size to make the jump. Jones didn’t have too much contact with the Bears until last week. Assistant offensive line coach Austin King flew out to Salt Lake City and watched Jones work out Monday.
“They just needed to see me actually move and be able to move in space, my athleticism, maybe they weren’t totally sold on it yet,” Jones said. “For me to come out there on short notice and just do my thing, I think they saw that in me.”
Miami (Ohio) edge rusher Dominique Robinson, 174th overall pick
Robinson was a third-team All-MAC performer in 2021 with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
He grew up in Canton, Ohio, and played quarterback in high school. He played wide receiver at Miami as recently as 2019. He measures in a 6-foot-4, 253 pounds. Having played edge rusher for only two seasons, he may require some time to develop at the NFL level.
“I consider myself to be really, really raw,” Robinson said. “I’ve been working on some new stuff. I was a one-dimensional player. I only had one move throughout college. I wanted to add some power.”
Bears scout Brendan Rehor said Robinson’s athletic ability is what stands out most, while noting that Robinson will have to improve against the run.
“He’s fairly new to the position, but you saw the flashes,” Poles added. “An old mentor of mine told me when it comes to defensive players, grade the flashes. You can develop that. If you do it once, you can do it again.”
San Diego State offensive lineman Zachary Thomas, 186th overall pick
Thomas played both right and left tackle for the Aztecs, but likely projects as a guard at the NFL level. As a left tackle last season, he was a first-team All-Mountain West performer. He has one major injury in his past: a torn ACL in 2018. At 6-foot-4, 308 pounds, Thomas doesn’t have the size that teams look for in a starting tackle, but he could play the position in a pinch.
Thomas doesn’t know what role he’ll play with the Bears, but he’s excited to compete for a spot.
“I love putting guys on their backs and I think I’m going to fit into this system really well,” he said.
Thomas is the older brother of San Diego State edge rusher Cameron Thomas, who the Arizona Cardinals drafted in the third round on Friday. The brothers watched the draft together.
“I would sum it up with one word: exciting,” Zachary Thomas said. “Just getting to see him go yesterday and celebrate. Then wait a little bit today and do the same thing all over again, it’s been unreal.”
Baylor running back Trestan Ebner, 203rd overall pick
Ebner was the Big 12 special teams player of the year in 2021 and a first-team all-Big 12 performer as a kick returner. He rushed for 799 yards and two touchdowns on 148 carries for Baylor. He has been a reliable receiving back over his five seasons at Baylor, catching 20 passes each season.
“That’s his calling card and his best value, honestly,” Bears scout Breck Ackley said of Ebner. “In high school he played a little bit of receiver, played some quarterback, kind of moved around, but that’s the first thing that stands out when you watch him. The guy runs routes like a receiver, he catches the ball naturally.”
Ebner will join a Bears backfield that includes David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and Darrynton Evans.
“He offers a combination of size and speed” Poles said. “What stood out with him is a lot of the outside zone scheme, he had feel and you need feel and vision in that scheme.”
Illinois center Doug Kramer, 207th overall pick
Kramer went to Hinsdale Central and was a five-year starter for the Illini. He grew up a Bears fan and received a lot of draft advice from former Illini teammate Nick Allegretti, who grew up in Frankfort and plays for the Chiefs.
“I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around the fact that the Bears just took me,” Kramer said Saturday.
Kramer was a three-year team captain at Illinois and a second-team All-Big Ten performer in 2021. He gives the Bears additional depth on the interior of the offensive line, where they signed free agent Lucas Patrick to play center earlier in the offseason.
Kramer started 48 games at Illinois and played more than 3,000 snaps at center. At 6-foot-2, 299 pounds, he’s not the biggest lineman, but his experience level at the center position could make him extremely valuable.
“I just need to use the things that I do well in order to win blocks,” Kramer said when asked about his size. “That’s what it comes down to. Honestly, I don’t think about it too much.”
Southern guard Ja’Tyre Carter, 226th overall
Carter became the first player drafted out of Southern, where he was a four-year starter at left tackle, since 2004.
Bears scout Breck Ackley said Carter likely projects as a guard at the NFL level. At 6-foot-3, 311 pounds, he has decent size. He was a first-team All-SWAC performer as a junior and a second-team performer last season as a senior.
Carter agreed that he will likely play guard.
“My versatility is what got me to this point, just being able to play multiple position on the O-line,” Carter said. “It gets you in the league and it keeps you there for a long time.”
California safety Elijah Hicks, 254th overall
Hicks had 72 tackles and three interceptions for Cal last season. He started 46 games over his five-year career. He played cornerback early in his career before moving to safety.
“The safety controls the defense,” Hicks said. “They are the ones making calls and giving tags. So it’s a big responsibility. So I’m physically able to do it and, mentally, I was able to do it. ... I was really productive, making plays all over the field. It was a natural fit.”
NC State punter Trenton Gill, 255th overall
Gill has experience kicking off, in addition to punting. He was the fourth and final punter selected in the draft. The Bears currently have one other punter on the roster in Ryan Winslow.