This Chicago Bears 2023 mock draft makes sense after trade deadline

Chicago Bears (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Chicago Bears, Owen Pappoe
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Owen Pappoe. Pick Analysis. 3. player. 842. Scouting Report. LB. Auburn

With pick 73, the Bears go after the type of linebacker they once had in Roquan Smith. The fans who were upset about seeing Smith leave especially loved what all fans loved about him — the rangy speed and athletic ability.

Without Smith, the Bears do not have that elite type of linebacker with top-end lateral speed. That is exactly what they are getting in Auburn’s Owen Pappoe. The Bears need a backer on the outside who can track the ball and go after it. Pappoe’s game is predicated on seeing before acting, so he’s very keen on diagnosing plays before they unfold.

Another aspect of Pappoe’s game that is like Smith is his ability to get after the quarterback off the edge when sent on a blitz. Smith’s sack rate was tops in the NFL when rushing the passer, and Pappoe’s athleticism and speed will help him play in a similar manner. In eight games this year with the Tigers, Pappoe already has 64 tackles, a sack, a pass defended and two forced fumbles. This guy is all over the field.

The Bears’ linebacker corps is fairly weak, and was even before losing Smith, but adding Pappoe gives them an immediate starter and someone who could very well end up leading the team in tackles. This will be a position group addressed via free agency as well, but Pappoe is going to be a huge part of it.