Hub Arkush’s first 2023 mock draft: Bears make a splash at No. 9

RB Bijan Robinson isn’t the likely pick, but he is the best pick

Illinois defensive back Devon Witherspoon faces Indiana during the 2022 season in West Bloomington, Ind.

There are a few things to know about the 2023 NFL Draft.

First, almost every team in the league needs edge rushers, offensive tackles and cornerbacks. All three are considered the deepest and most talented positions this year. Those three have a high chance of being among the top three most drafted positions in the first round.

Next, all four of the top rated quarterbacks are overrated to some degree. They will be taken higher than they should, but that happens every year. No surprise there.

On the other side, running backs, wide receivers and offensive guards will be underrated because good ones can be found in almost any round. Look for some steals there in the later rounds.

Successful drafting is about landing your highest-rated prospects available who also fit areas of need. That is what I’ve tried to do with each of these picks in my first mock draft.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson celebrates a touchdown against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Dallas.

What I can’t do is pretend to know how each team has each player rated, but I have spoken to a number of scouts I’ve built relationships with to get as much information as possible about how the pros are rating these players.

Let the guessing game begin.

Note: The Miami Dolphins had their pick forfeited, so this year’s first round has only 31 picks.

TeamPlayer, CollegePosition
1. PanthersBryce Young, AlabamaQB
2. TexansC.J. Stroud, Ohio StateQB
3. CardinalsWill Anderson, AlabamaEdge
4. ColtsAnthony Richardson, FloridaQB
5. SeahawksTyree Wilson, Texas TechEdge
6. LionsDevon Witherspoon, IllinoisCB
7. RaidersWill Levis, KentuckyQB
8. FalconsJalen Carter, GeorgiaDT
9. BearsBijan Robinson, TexasRB
10. EaglesChristian Gonzales, OregonCB
11. TitansParis Johnson, Ohio StateOT
12. TexansMyles Murphy, ClemsonEdge
13. JetsPeter Skoronski, NorthwesternOT/OG
14. PatriotsQuentin Johnston, TCUWR
15. PackersMichael Mayer, Notre DameTE
16. CommandersJoey Porter Jr., Penn StateCB
17. SteelersBroderick Jones, GeorgiaOT
18. LionsLukas Van Ness, IowaDE/DT
19. BuccaneersDarnell Wright, TennesseeOT
20. SeahawksJaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio StateWR
21. ChargersZay Flowers, Boston CollegeWR
22. RavensEmmanuel Forbes, Mississippi StateCB
23. VikingsDeonte Banks, MarylandCB
24. JaguarsDalton Kincaid, UtahTE
25. GiantsJordan Addison, USCWR
26. CowboysJahmyr Gipps, AlabamaRB
27. BillsO’Cyrus Torrence, FloridaOG
28. BengalsDarnell Washington, GeorgiaTE
29. SaintsCalijah Kancey, PittsburghDT
30. EaglesWill McDonald, Iowa StateDE
31. ChiefsFelix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas StateDE

I am not confident the Bears will take Robinson. I just hope they will because I believe he is going to be the rookie of the year and the best player out of this draft, which would be a steal at No. 9. They may be more likely to take Johnson or Murphy.

Here are two players whose names are worth remembering. Both could be available at pick No. 53 and 61 when the Bears pick in the second round and at No. 64 when they open the third round.

Johnson’s teammate at Ohio State, Dawand Jones (6-8, 359), leaves college as the starting right tackle. He may be gone by No. 53, but he could be a monster at right tackle with his size and the right coaching.

There is talk of moving Braxton Jones to right tackle and drafting a left tackle, but I wouldn’t. Jones had a very good rookie year on the left side, most likely will only get better, and left tackles are harder to find. Jones, meanwhile, projects as a potential monster on the right side.

USC defensive tackle Tuli Tuipulotu (6-3, 266) had 13 ½ sacks and 22 tackles for loss last season, good enough for second most in the country. I don’t know why he isn’t rated better on most draft boards, but he is a natural-born pass rusher who could be a steal at No. 53 or 61.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush was the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and