On the second day of the NFL Draft, the Bears took a shot to bolster their defensive line by drafting South Carolina defensive tackle Zack Pickens.
Pickens played four years with the Gamecocks. There, he recorded 131 total tackles and 7.5 sacks in 43 collegiate games. He is known for his body in the running game and his high ceiling as a fast passer.
According to ESPN’s NFL draft expert Todd McShea, Pickens is the “draft stealer” of the Chicago Bears.
“Matt Eberfels’ defense relies on good technique, a penetrating triple in the quarterback, and that’s Pickens. We’re talking about a unit that totaled 20 sacks in 2022, the most recent in the NFL. And while Pickens only had 2.5 sacks last season, his explosion And his first step and strength suggest he could be more restless than his numbers suggest,” McShea wrote.
Pickens would quickly become an important piece of the Bears’ defensive line upon his arrival in Chicago. The Bears recorded the fewest sacks in the league last season (20) and pressed the fewest quarterbacks of all other NFL teams.
This is not the kind of defensive pressure Bears fans are used to seeing. After seasons with Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Achim Hicks, and Eddie Goldman, watching last year was particularly tough.
But Ryan Paul and the Bears are working toward a defensive line that teams fear to defend. Along with Pickens, the Bears acquired Jervon Dexter in the second round from Florida. They also captured Andrew Billings in free agency.
McShay believes Pickens is a step in the right direction to create a formidable unit up front.
“Pickens is a different kind of player, he’s a perfect fit in Chicago and he’ll be key in this defensive scheme. I think he’s going to be an impact player at any given time. Getting him in the third inning is a solid value,” McShay wrote. .
Related: Why Zacch Pickens could be the Bears’ NFL draft pick
When Pickens spoke to the media after being drafted, it became clear that the Bears had a “kind of” player they would like.
Paul and Matt Eberfels are looking for hungry, bad players, willing to do anything to find their spot on the team and turn the switch on game day. While listening to Pickens talk to the media, it became abundantly clear that he was one of those players.
“I can be a top player if I check all my boxes,” Pickens told the Chicago media on a phone call Friday. “If I do everything right, which I know I will, I can be one of the greats. And I don’t hold back. I’m very real. If I tick all the boxes and when I tick all the boxes, I promise I’ll be the best defensive inside tackle. And that’s exactly it.” What I’m going to bring in. My best every day.”
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