Bears Draft Focus: John Michael Schmitz
Robert Goddin - USA Today Sports

Bears Draft Focus: John Michael Schmitz

by - Senior Writer -

The 2023 NFL draft will not only be exciting for Bears fans, but very interesting. Despite having the worst record in franchise history last season, it ended up being positive as it locked the Bears into the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. What they do with that pick is an entirely different story, but one thing is sure; they will have plenty of talented players to choose from.

When it comes to Ryan Poles, this will be his second season as the Bears GM, but this will be the first time he has an opportunity to make an impact on this franchise. On the one hand, keeping the No. 1 overall pick ensures the Bears will be able to draft who they want, no matter who is on the board. That does work to their advantage, but so does trading the No. 1 pick.

That is where things could get interesting come draft night as the Bears not only could trade back once, but multiple times in an effort to acquire not only more picks, but another first-round pick. Looking at the needs of this team, you could point to OL and defense as the most pressing holes, but the WR position is also an issue. Given the funds they have to spend, look for the Bears to target a WR in free agency and focus on the other needs in the draft.

The consensus is that the Bears will go defense first, with Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr gaining the most steam. Anderson makes the most sense, given his play-making ability, but the Bears need some meat in the middle, which is where Carter comes into play. Should that be the direction the Bears go, I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade back into the first round and look to acquire an OL in the process.

John Michael Schmitz could be one of the OL to watch as a late first early second-round pick and is someone the Bears may take a look at. The 6-4 320-pounder will not stand out on tape, but he is technically sound, which is good for an offensive lineman. Schmitz also plays the center position which the Bears need to address, and is equally as good in pass protection as in run blocking.

Unlike most players in this year's draft, Schmitz is a seasoned veteran and comes with six years of college experience. Throughout six seasons, Schmitz started 57 games for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, with 35 coming at the Center position. While the tape is not what stands out, his play certainly does, as he has earned all Big 10 honors three times while also earning All-American status in 2022.

It was during the 2022 season that Schmitz started to establish himself as one of the best centers in this year's draft. Not only did he start all 12 games for the Golden Gophers, but he helped anchor a rushing offense that ranked 2nd in the Big Ten and 16th in the NCAA. Given that running the football was the biggest strength for the Bears' offense last season, you can see why he could be an excellent fit.

Being in college for six years doesn't always sit well with most fans, but keep in mind it wasn't all his fault. This guy red-shirted early in his career and was granted another year of eligibility due to COVID. He made the most of those extra years and is now one of the more experienced players in the draft. Although big and able to anchor in against some of the best pass rushers, he is also athletic enough to get to the second level to create large rushing lanes for his backs.

Even with him having so much success in the run game, Schmitz needs to work on his technique, as his short arms sometimes get him overpowered. Those short arms also work against him in pass coverage, as he tends to struggle the longer he needs to keep his QB upright. In any instance, he has been very consistent, which the Bears haven't had on their O line in years.

Schmitz may not be the biggest name on the OL draft board, but he does fill an area of need, as the Bears need interior linemen. With Sam Mustipher struggling the past few seasons, this guy can step in and start immediately and would be an immediate upgrade. Although not the quickest player, his overall sound technical skills should allow him to hold his own in the NFL.

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