The Chicago Bears are thinking big in the NFL draft.
Thursday night, after trading down one spot, the Bears used the No. 10 pick in the first round to draft 6-foot-6-inch, 335-pound Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright.
James “Big Cat” Williams, who played offensive tackle for the Bears from 1991 to 2002 and is co-host of the No Name Football podcast, give “Chicago Tonight” his assessment of the Bears’ draft moves.
WTTW News: What did you make of the Bears taking Darnell Wright? Do you think that was the right choice?
James “Big Cat” Williams: I think there were, there was maybe one or two tackles that might have been a little better than him … but I think he’s going to be a solid right tackle. He’s young, he has things he has to learn. But when you talk about taking a first round pick, and a pick and a guy that can be taught and can grow, I think he’s a good prospect.
Were you surprised they traded down and let the Eagles take Jalen Carter? Jalen Carter was very, very highly rated a couple of months ago as potentially being one of the best players in the draft.
Williams: I think he still is one of the best players in the draft. But I think for the topics that have been brought up about Jalen Carter (he was involved in a car crash in which two people died, including one of his University of Georgia teammates), the Bears did not have the locker room to support a first round pick that let’s say there were questions about his mental dedication to the game.
What do you think it was about Darnell Wright that so impressed the Bears? I’m assuming this is mainly about trying to help protect quarterback Justin Fields, right?
Williams: Definitely. The Bears went into this offseason, went into this draft, knowing that bolstering both their offensive and defensive line were going to be a must. They had to start putting some pieces in place. You have to start with the offensive line because you need to be able to protect Fields. And it’s not only about bolstering the line, but it’s about having the ability to see the Justin Fields at his best, not under duress. This pick might start off a little rough because he is a rookie … but you know, the anticipation is further down the line that this guy is going to be your blocking right tackle for the next 10 to 12 years.
What is it like making the transition from college to the NFL, particularly if you’re a first round pick?
Williams: Well, the one thing that’s hard for rookies is that you come in and, yes, you might have faced the cream of the crop, you know, three or four times during a college season and you might have done well against it. But that was you just having to get pumped up for that game. Now, you’ve got to be able to do it 17 games in a row because the talent that you’re going to face, even if it’s not the best talent in the NFL, it’s going to be top-of-the-line talent compared to what you were facing in college. So, he’s going to have a test every, every single week.
What should the Bears be prioritizing with their other nine picks in this draft?
Williams: I think they’ve got to focus on the defensive line. … They still need depth no matter how you look at it. Yes, the Bears have put some people in position to be starters. Yes, they have upgraded the talent on the team, but they still need more. They still need need one or two pieces in the secondary. The Bears are in a situation now when they get to their next pick, they’re looking at the highest person on their board, whatever that position is, whatever that player is, he should fit in, because they have needs all over the place.
How are you feeling about the Bears at this point? What are your expectations for this year?
Williams: That all depends. The pieces look good right now, but no one’s worked together yet. So, this is going to be a process that takes some time. And I don’t even think by the beginning of the season or by the end of preseason, we’re going to know exactly what they have. But I think they’re trending in the right direction.
Note: This article will be updated with video.