Bears pick Darnell Wright with 10th pick in 2023 NFL Draft

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With the 10th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles selected Darnell Wright, offensive lineman from Tennessee.

Improving the offense and helping Justin Fields is paramount this year. Other than a midseason eruption, the team struggled to put points on the board last season, and oftentimes it felt like Fields was the only man on the field making plays. Sometimes it was due to a lack of offensive players who could execute in key scenarios. Other times it was because the porous line was allowing constant pressure. Ryan Poles addressed the playmaker problem when he traded for DJ Moore last month. Now he’s used the team’s first-round pick to help with the protection up front.

Wright rocketed up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft and broke into the conversation for top offensive line prospect along with Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr. and Broderick Jones. He was a popular pick for the Bears in many mock drafts, too. Publications from PFF to ESPN, and even our very own Josh Schrock predicted Wright to the Bears over the past month.

Wright is big and strong (6’5”, 333 lbs.), and moves surprisingly well for his size (5.01 40-yard dash). He uses that blend to excel in run blocking, which we know is a must for any offensive lineman in Poles’ eyes. Wright’s no slouch in pass pro, either. According to PFF, he allowed no sacks and just eight pressures in 2022, while going up against some of the best pass rushers in the SEC. In fact, Wright seemed to elevate his game against fierce competition. He neutralized Will Anderson, who was the first defensive player taken off the board this year, and B.J. Ojulari, who many expect could come off the board around the end of the first round, or beginning of the second round.

PFF draft expert Mike Renner believes Wright could be a great fit just because of how defenses try to attack Justin Fields and the Bears’ RPO attack. Defenders will often try to drive linemen straight into the mesh point of the RPO to make it easier to stick with the ball. Renner says Wright is the guy to stop that.

“Darnell Wright holds up to the bull rush better than any other tackle in this draft class so it just makes too much sense,” Renner said on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Football Night in Chicago.”

Wright also has the nasty streak that all teams look for in offensive linemen. His tape is filled with plays where he finishes a block by taking a player all the way to the ground, or finishing a block through the endzone on rushing touchdowns. Those reps display the hustle and intensity that Matt Eberflus demands of his players in his H.I.T.S. program.

All that said, Wright is still an ascending player. He continually improved throughout his Volunteers career, which included a move from right tackle to left tackle between the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and a move back to right tackle in 2022. There’s a chance the Bears have Wright compete with Braxton Jones on the left side, but it may be more productive to keep Wright at right where he blossomed last season. 

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