Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two stud big uglies and a young skill player
Wright could be an anchor for the Bears line for years (Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports)

Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two stud big uglies and a young skill player

by - Senior Writer -

We are nearing the end of our top 30 players of the 2023 series, where we have finally cracked the top 10. These are considered the elite players on this team expected to make the most significant impact, while some players on this list may be put here based on their potential alone.

Today, it's back to the offensive side of the ball, where a pair of young big uglies make the cut with another young skill player falling in the middle.

Two players saw the field a season ago, but only one saw extended time once the season began. For the Bears to be at their best this season, all 53 men on the roster need to produce, but these are just a few of the names that the Bears will lean on more than others.

9. Braxton Jones

When the Bears drafted Jones in 2022, no one knew what to expect from him. Yes, you had a successful college career that led to optimism when the pick was made, but no one knew if that would translate into the NFL. The Bears are happy his game translated as Jones was one of the better offensive linemen on this team and one of the bigger steals in last year's draft.

Now entering his second season, the 6-5 311-pound Jones will take on an even more prominent role this season as he will be viewed as a critical cog for this offensive line group. Given that he played so well as a rookie, you can expect his expectations to be high this season. However, you must also consider the sophomore slump that everyone talks about, which is a real possibility.

Either way, Jones will be the week one starter at one of the tackle positions and shouldn't have any trouble staying there. The question is, can he duplicate last season's success to help anchor the line and put himself in line to be one of the future leaders of this team?

8. Velus Jones Jr.

Like his counterpart Braxton Jones, Velus Jones Jr was also a 2022 draft pick and was taken a few rounds before Braxton. A bit of an unknown when the Bears selected him, Jones was one of the oldest prospects in his class and was a 25-year-old rookie a season ago.

While there were a lot of things that Jones needed to improve when it came to his game, two things the Bears loved about him were his size on the outside and his speed to get past the defenders. Chicago had visions of him becoming an elite deep-ball threat, but a lack of playing time and having some early drop issues prevented that from happening.

Now entering year two, Jones Jr is listed as one of the players to watch this season for various reasons. The first reason shouldn't surprise anyone, as his speed makes him a weapon in any offensive scheme. Granted, his route running could be better, but if he can get behind the defense to take the top off, Justin Fields could have a field day just firing the ball to him downfield.

Another reason for optimism this season is the important role he could play on special teams. Speed kills, and that is something you can't teach. Velus Jones Jr has speed, and if he can fix his fumbling issues on special teams, he could emerge as a real spark plug in the kick return game that could bring back memories of the more recent Cordarrelle Patterson.

7. Darnell Wright

After trading the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers and moving back to No. 9, the Bears went with an offensive lineman and drafted the University of Tennessee product Darnell Wright. Arguably the best offensive lineman in this year's class, the 6-6 335-pound Wright will be a massive part of the Bear's offensive success as he is expected to be one of the five starters on the offensive line.

With Jones expected to land at the other tackle position, the Bears will have two key pieces to build around and two young players that will have to learn how to play together. That could lead to some early season struggles, which is expected, but don't expect it to last too long.

Once Jones and Wright learn to play together, look for this offensive line to be one of the more improved units in the NFL this season. It will take a collective effort to keep Fields upright this season, but Wright will play one of the most important parts, if not the most critical part, to keep him upright this season.

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