Chicago Bears could draft Rice DL Ikenna Enechukwu

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are going to need to turn to the NFL draft to beef up their defensive line. One name that could be interesting this year is Ikenna Enechukwu from Rice. What does he bring to the NFL, and when would the Chicago Bears have to start looking at him in the 2023 NFL draft?

Chicago Bears Draft Profile: Rice DL, Ikenna Enechukwu

Ikenna Enechukwu redshirted his first year and did not play much as a redshirt freshman. He started to see the field as an RS So. but the season was shortened due to COVID. Needless to say, the last two years are what have elevated his stock.

He had 32 pressures in 2021, and 31 pressures in 2022. He added 24 run stops in 2021, and 19 in 2022. Overall, he has 1,776 career snaps with 1,241 snaps as an edge rusher, but also 535 snaps as an interior defender. 407 of those snaps came in the 2021 season, but he shifted back to the edge last season, showing that he could produce in both areas.

Ikenna Enechukwu was at the Senior Bowl and competed at the NFL combine. Below you can see his athletic profile.

His weight is about average for an edge rusher, so you can understand why he moved back outside last season. Still, he tested above avergae in most areas.

What Ikenna Enechukwu brings to the NFL

While he cannot win consistently on the inside, he has a lot of great pass-rushing tape from the 3-technique role. This could give him a floor as a rusher who can come in on obvious pass downs and get after it.

As an interior lineman, he is far too small to hold up against the run. This can be an issue against tackles at times, especially when they are able to get their hands on him. However, when he can win the leverage battle with his arms he is a tenacious pocket pusher.

He does play with the best bend, but he does play with his hands above his eyes and an ability to extend away from his body. When you combine the fact that he plays with violent hands and knows how to use them to his advantage, and he also has a pass rush arsenal that can at least be effective against interior lineman there is a floor, even if he does not hit a higher ceiling.

NFL Comparison for Rice DL Ikenna Enechukwu

The best NFL comparison for Ikenna Enechukwu may be Tyquan Lewis. Below you can see how they compare when Lewis came out in 2018. Lewis is now a depth lineman for the Indianapolis Colts and just re-signed for his sixth season.

Both of them bring not only a similar athletic frame, but also have a very similar skill set. Lewis was more of a defensive tackle at Ohio State, but he was far too thin for that in the NFL. He played inside and outside and often filled a role that Ikenna Enechukwu should in the NFL. On early downs, he sets the edge with his long arms and understanding of leverage, and occasionally he can slide inside and use his speed to get a quick push.

Should Chicago Bears draft Ikenna Enechukwu?

One thing to note about Tyquan Lewis is that he played most of his career with Matt Eberflus as his defensive coordinator. Eberflus used him to get the best out of him, and we know that he could do the same with Ikenna Enechukwu. The Chicago Bears also signed DeMarcus Walker who can also move inside and outside.

Walker does not mean they cannot add more players like that and rather means that they could go all-in with a versatile defensive line where guys can move and up down, playing different spots. That is the type of defense that could get the most out of Ikenna Enechukwu.

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When you add the lack of depth at the position, needless to say, this would be a great fit. The question is when he would get drafted. Tyquan Lewis was drafted in the second round, and that may be a touch high for Ikenna Enechukwu. However, starting in round three you could start to hear his name getting buzz.