Should Chicago Bears Draft Auburn DL Colby Wooden?


The Chicago Bears need defensive line help in the 2023 NFL draft. Is Colby Wooden from Auburn a name to keep an eye on? How does he project to the NFL, and what is the best NFL comparison for Colby Wooden?

Chicago Bears Draft Profile: Auburn DL, Colby Wooden

Colby Wooden redshirted his first year with the Auburn Tigers but exploded as a redshirt freshman with 24 pressures in a limited role. He jumped into the starting spot in 2021 and saw 41 pressures and 37 run stops. He was not as great in 2022, but still had 35 pressures and 29 stops.

One of the big differences is that he played 359 snaps as a three-technique and 69 snaps and 153 snaps on the edge in 2021. Then, in 2022 he played 386 snaps outside, and 262 snaps on the interior.

For his career, he had 1,854 snaps, and 1,056 coming as a pass rusher. In total, he had 1,046 snaps as an edge rusher, and 796 snaps along the interior.

Colby Wooden participated in the NFL combine.

The above image is compared to edge rushers. Compared to interior rushers, he is much thinner. Still, his athletic ability is middling.

How Colby Wooden translates to the NFL

The obvious question is whether Colby Wooden will be a tweener in the NFL. He definitely does not have the burst off of the edge to be a strong pass rusher. Still, while he can get upfield as a three-technique, he also has questions against the run in that area.

Auburn pushed him out to the edge because it could help his NFL projection to have that ability. As an every-down inside rusher, he is just too small. In the right scheme, he can be used up and down the line.

Colby Wooden has the experience and is a smart rusher. He uses his hands well and knows how to use angles and slip between blocks. Wooden can also work well twisting and stunting, but the right defensive coordinator will have to draft him, because his role is up in the air, and cannot be typecast into one spot.

NFL Comparison for Colby Wooden

The best NFL comparison for Colby Wooden is Mario Edwards. They are very similar from a physical and athletic perspective. Edwards has sustained a long NFL career, and depending on the system he has been a defensive tackle or an edge rusher.

He is similar in that he does not get a great burst off of the football, but can handle his business on the edge with violent hands. He is too small to be an every-down guy from the interior, but his pass rush is effective when used correctly in there. There is a role for Colby Wooden in the NFL.

Should Chicago Bears Draft Colby Wooden?

According to NFL mock draft database, Wooden will be a late third or early fourth-round pick. The Chicago Bears need to draft a defensive line early, middle, and late in this draft. Wooden would fit well with DeMarcus Walker in that both are positionless. Walker wins with his hands and is a good run defender on the edge. They could rotate the two but also play them off of each other with twists and stunts.

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If the Chicago Bears cannot add a big-name rusher, why not have a bunch of guys who can line up across the line and get after it with depth? That would be how Colby Wooden helps.