The negativity around the Chicago Bears’ 2022 NFL draft has been… something. Most schooled draft analysts know it takes around three years to accurately review a draft class, but the nature of the industry requires immediate reactions and grades of every team’s performance.
CBS Sports published their grades for every NFL Draft class, and the Bears didn’t do so well. In fact, they received the worst grade in the league from Pete Prisco.
“They didn’t have a first-round pick after trading it to get quarterback Justin Fields last year,” Prisco wrote. “They picked defensive backs with their first two picks, which they need, but why not an offensive lineman at some point before round five when they took Braxton Jones? I do like Gordon, but they better hope (Velus) Jones can play.”
Velus Jones Jr. is the most talked-about third-round pick from this year’s draft. Perhaps it’s because draft analysts all but guaranteed Chicago would select a wide receiver in the second round. When General Manager Ryan Poles didn’t, the response was vicious. It feels like it wouldn’t have mattered who the Bears settled on in the third round. The fact Poles didn’t draft a pass-catcher in the second round remains the unfair focus.
Prisco called Jones the Bears’ worst pick.
“Third-round receiver/return man Velus Jones can fly, but he is 25, which has to be a concern,” Prisco wrote. “He’s not a polished receiver, but speed is attractive.”
That last part is critical: speed. And it’s a part of Jones’s game that hasn’t been covered nearly enough. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was one of the fastest times of all the participants this year — not just wide receivers. When combined with his after-the-catch ability, he is one of the more exciting wide receivers to enter the league this year (even if he’s 25 years old).
Poles has expressed excitement about his incoming class in the days following the 2022 NFL draft, and we’ll find out soon enough whether his excitement, or the pundits’ criticism, is justified.