The list of Chicago Bears 2022 NFL Draft needs is a long one. It’s like an old card trick: pick a need, any need. Whether it’s offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety, or even tight end, there’s almost no way the team can make a bad decision with its first pick (No. 39 overall). They’re going to pick a player who fills an immediate demand. It shouldn’t be overly difficult to filter that long list of needs down to the one or two most logical positions the Bears will target in the second round. Remember: this is the offseason of Justin Fields, so it’s safe to assume that whatever positions have the most direct impact on the quarterback will likely be at or near the top of that must-have list. I’ve already touched on how Georgia wide receiver George Pickens would be a fantastic target with that second-rounder, but it’d be foolish to think Chicago won’t take a long look at the offensive line too. One potential target and 2022 Senior Bowl participant is Central Michigan offensive tackle, Bernhard Raimann. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound tight end-turned-offensive tackle would give the Bears flexibility with a player like Larry Borom, 2021’s surprise fifth-round pick who ascended to the starting lineup at right tackle. There were several draft analysts who liked Borom more at guard when he was a draft prospect, and if Raimann is the Bears’ choice in Round 2, kicking Borom inside would give Chicago an impressive collection of young starters with significant upside. TDN scout Kyle Crabbs mocked Raimann to the Bears in his most recent mock draft. Chicago needs to protect the investment they've made in QB Justin Fields and the only way for that to happen is to get better on the offensive line. Period. The trickle-down effect of selecting a player like Raimann would reach center, too. If Borom moves to guard, then that allows one of last year’s starting guards—James Daniels or Cody Whitehair—to slide to center, a position both of them have experience playing. Either one would be a massive upgrade over Sam Mustipher, making the Raimann selection one that directly impacts THREE starting roles along the offensive line. It’s rare that a second-round pick can have that big of an impact on a starting lineup. It’d be great if it were that simple, right? But here’s the problem: Raimann is a dreaded upside player. And if you’ve followed the NFL long enough, you know there are a whole lot of ‘upside’ guys who washed out of the league before their first contract came to an end. As Crabbs noted in Raimann’s evaluation, he’s a player who’s still learning the nuances of playing offensive tackle and will probably be a better player in year three than he is in year one. And while that usually applies to any player entering the league, it’s especially true for Raimann, who could be well-served (as Crabbs put it) to get some seasoning on the bench early in his career. My evaluation of Raimann is similar to Crabbs’. I view him as a late-third-round prospect, but as is usually the case with offensive tackles who have a high ceiling, he’ll probably get pushed a full round up the board. That puts him squarely in the Bears’ draft range, and assuming a more pro-ready offensive lineman hasn’t slid out of the first round, he’d make sense. The dilemma the Bears have to resolve before calling any player’s name in this year’s draft is whether or not they’re willing to let their highest draft pick in 2022 be a developmental guy. If they’re looking for a more immediate impact player—someone who will be penciled in as a starter on day one—Raimann would be a misguided target. There’s a chance he is ready to begin 2022 as an NFL starter, but there’s as good of a chance that he won’t, and that’s not an indictment against him as a prospect. Chicago has to have reasonable expectations and a clearly defined plan if a developmental upside prospect like him ultimately becomes their pick. The most efficient way to build an offensive line is through the NFL draft. And if the Bears want to level up the protection around Fields in 2022, they’ll have to make the offensive line a priority in April. Sure, they’ll be on the outside looking in when it comes to the top prospects at offensive tackle and guard, but that doesn’t mean they can’t upgrade with a player like Raimann in Round 2.
- Sep 20, 2023