Bears 2022 rookie review: LT Braxton Jones
The Chicago Bears saw significant contributions from rookies on offense, defense and special teams during the 2022 season, whether it was from draft picks or undrafted free agents.
Fifth-rounder Braxton Jones was one of the team’s best rookies. He quickly worked his way up the depth chart during the offseason and cemented himself as the starter at left tackle. While Jones had his share of ups and downs, he gained valuable experience in his first year and made his case for why he deserves to be starting again in 2023.
Let’s take a look back at Jones’ rookie season and see what we can expect for the future.
AP Photo/Kirk Irwin
7 sacks allowed, 12 penalties (via PFF)
2022 season review
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Jones quickly established himself as an important part of the Bears’ offensive line. Jones worked his way up the depth chart during the offseason program and proved himself to be the best option at left tackle. Jones played every snap at left tackle this season, and he was the only player to play every snap on Chicago. Jones struggled against the bull rush, and it’s clear he needs to bulk up and get stronger this offseason. But he was one of the more consistent offensive linemen for the Bears this season. Jones was Chicago’s second-highest graded offensive player by Pro Football Focus at 75.4, where he earned strong marks both in pass protection (70.5) and run blocking (79.4). Jones was the 12th highest-graded rookie in the entire NFL, which is pretty impressive for a fifth-round draft pick.
Best game: vs. Bills (Week 16)
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Jones had some impressive outings during his rookie season, but it’s hard not to look at his performance against a dominant Bills defensive front. Even without Von Miller, Buffalo’s defense had done a good job getting after the quarterback. While Jones did relinquish one sack in 32 pass blocking snaps, he didn’t allow a single pressure in one-on-one blocking situations. Jones earned his highest pass blocking grade of the season (85.9) and continued to thrive in run blocking (76.8). Jones also didn’t commit a penalty against the Bills. His performance was an encouraging sign for his future in Chicago.
2023 season outlook
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The offensive line will be a focal point for Poles this offseason, and he’s going to take a hard look at those currently on the roster. There will be opportunities to upgrade both in free agency and the NFL draft. With that said, there’s reason to believe Jones will be a part of the plan in 2023, and he’ll have an entire offseason to bulk up and improve. Poles specifically mentioned Jones during his postseason press conference when asked about the future of the offensive line. Poles said he was “proud” of Jones but “he’s got a long ways to go to reach his ceiling.” That certainly sounds like someone who should factor into the plans along the offensive line in 2023. Now whether he’ll stay at left tackle or shift to the right side remains to be seen.
2022 rookie reviews
We’re unveiling our rookie season reviews over the next week. Here’s a look at the rundown from the 2022 rookie class:
OT Braxton Jones
LB Jack Sanborn (2/9)
CB Kyler Gordon (2/10)
WR Velus Jones Jr. (2/11)
P Trenton Gill (2/12)
DE Dominique Robinson (2/13)
RB Trestan Ebner (2/14)
S Elijah Hicks (2/15)