Two rookies the Chicago Bears could draft in 2023
Brian Branch, Alabama
A two-year full-time starter for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide defense, safety Brian Branch is an impact player for one of the nation’s premier collegiate teams. Branch, who is 6’0″ and nearly 200 pounds, has excelled as both a safety and a nickel corner, as he has the frame and physique to play closer to the line of scrimmage. As a talented defensive back who earned his time more due to his vision rather than his physical talent, he has the natural instincts that are desired in a defensive back.
Branch will likely be a first-round pick, and depending on if/how far back the Bears trade down in the draft, he could be a nice piece to sure up the pass and run defense while allowing Kyler Gordon the opportunity to develop as a full-time boundary corner.
Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame
A name many Chicagoans may be already familiar with, Brandon Joseph transferred from Northwestern to Notre Dame ahead of the 2022 season but struggled compared to the production from earlier in his career.
After starting his career as an AP First Team All-American in 2020, Joseph seemed to regress statistically the following two seasons. With 10 career interceptions, six of which came as a redshirt freshman, and nearly 100 total tackles in college, Joseph is a true coverage safety who may not be able to add much as a box defender but can impact the defensive backfield as a centerfield defender.
The Chicago Bears could end up losing a vital piece of the new regime. Ian Cunningham is being interviewed by the Titans for their general manager job.
It is unlikely that Joseph would walk into a starting role with the Bears if drafted, but he could serve nicely as a third safety to add in the secondary and could be a nice developmental player as insurance for Eddie Jackson’s potential departure after 2024. Likely a third or fourth-round pick, it might be worth taking a flyer on a player who has real promise and is already practically a Chicago native.