When a Chicago Bears draft class arrives, all fans want to know is if any of them have the capability of being good on Sundays. That is only natural. They want their team to win and understand the draft is often the best avenue to building a championship roster. Hence why, the draft is must-watch television for so many each year. At the same time, it’s easy to forget these young men are still human beings.
Each with their own individual stories. So I thought it might be fun to do some digging and see if each of the Bears’ 11 picks has fun fact nuggets in their backgrounds that are worth sharing. I wasn’t disappointed. Fans may learn some pretty cool stuff about the incoming rookie class. A little more about what got them to this point and how it might shape their careers in Chicago.
Chicago Bears draft class has tons of cool facts behind it
Kyler Gordon knows ballet
One thing that will stand out immediately to Bears fans about their new cornerback in Gordon is his footwork. It’s swift and smooth for somebody his age. That isn’t an accident. When he was younger, his mother signed him up for dance competitions. He’d travel the country for them. That includes ballet, which he called by far the toughest of any style he dabbled in. The level of dedication it took to master was a huge reason he was able to excel at football when he began playing.
Jaquan Brisker is only the 2nd player from his high school to reach the NFL
One would think that coming from a high school in the Pittsburgh area, it would be a solid pipeline of future NFL contributors. Yet Gateway High School feels like a rare anomaly. Since 1960, only one of its students eventually played professional football. Bob Buczkowski was a 1st round pick for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1986. Brisker becomes the second person to break that drought by going to Chicago in the 2nd round. Buczkowski had just 1.5 sacks in his pro career. So Brisker has a huge opportunity to become the best athlete ever to come from his high school.
Velus Jones Jr. earned not one but two degrees in college
Something easy to forget is that around 50% of all players that reach the NFL either via the draft or undrafted free agency failed to earn a college degree. Believe it or not, that’s a higher average than other sports, which is a reminder of where priorities for young athletes often are. This is what makes Jones so exceptional. He earned a sociology degree from USC between 2016 and 2019 and also managed to pick up a master’s in agricultural leadership, education, and communication from Tennessee. This is somebody well-prepared for life after football whenever that time comes.
Braxton Jones idolizes Tyron Smith
When Jones became a left tackle in high school, he knew he’d have to work hard to hone his craft if he wanted to reach the NFL. Despite his favorite team being the Baltimore Ravens, there was one player he couldn’t stop watching in those days. That was Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Tyron Smith. Jones called him a “freak of nature” that was remarkably technical in his approach. By modeling his own game after Smith’s, Jones was able to stand out at a smaller school like Southern Utah and got drafted in the 5th round.
Dominique Robinson was born in Canton
Plenty of young players feel the pressure of coming from certain places of origin. Towns or cities that have produced great athletes that cast long shadows and legacies to live up to. Robinson is a rare case in that he was born in the exact location where George Halas paid $100 to join what would eventually become the National Football League. That is Canton, Ohio. Not only is it the location of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the city has also produced multiple Hall of Famers over the years, including Dan Dierdorf and Alan Page. It seems almost like Robinson was born to play for the Chicago Bears.
Zachary Thomas and brother Cameron made draft history
It is a rare sight in the NFL when two brothers end up in the league simultaneously. Most instances involve one arriving a year or two before another. It is incredibly rare to see them arrive in the same year. Tiki and Ronde Barber came up in the 1997 draft. Tremaine and Terrell Edmunds were both 1st round picks in 2020. It isn’t a common sight. So the ultimate rarity is for Thomas and his brother to get selected in the same draft and come from the same school. Cameron Thomas had 20 sacks as a defensive end at San Diego State. He went in the 3rd round to the Arizona Cardinals. Zachary went three rounds later to the Bears. That must’ve been an amazing family celebration.
Trestan Ebner almost didn’t get drafted because of a faulty phone
This story already circulated a few days ago, but it’s still wild. As the 2022 draft unfolded, NFL agent Ron Slavin realized a big problem. He couldn’t reach his client Ebner on the phone. NFL teams have a tradition of not drafting players they can’t speak to on the phone first due to a history of issues cropping up from undisclosed information. The Chicago Bears wanted to take the Baylor running back but would not if they couldn’t reach him. So Slavin pulled used some creativity, getting in contact with Ebner’s sister to finally bring the two sides into contact. The running back almost failed to realize his dream because of technological error.
Doug Kramer comes from a hotbed of Chicago sports legends
It was a dream come true when the Chicago Bears picked Kramer in the 6th round. He’d been a fan of the franchise since he first started loving football growing up in Hinsdale, Illinois. He might be shocked to learn his hometown is actually a place that has produced a myriad of eventual Chicago sports icons. Among them include All-Star White Sox slugger Jim Thome, Blackhawks coaching legend Joel Quenneville, and All-Star winder Eric Daze. Not to mention 2010 Stanley Cup champion Brent Sopel. Kramer has a chance to carve a new path as the first town native to play for the Bears.
Ja’Tyre Carter was the first player drafted from his school in 18 years
People might be shocked to hear this, but Southern University used to be a hotbed of future NFL players from the 1950s through the 1990s. They produced some outstanding talents during that time, including Hall of Famers Mel Blount, Harold Carmichael, and Aeneas Williams. However, the well finally ran dry in the 2000s. Lenny Williams was the last player from that program to get drafted back in 2004. Since then, it’s been ghostly silent. At last, Carter broke the streak by going to Chicago in the 7th round this year. Now he’s hoping to break an even more prolonged drought, becoming the first Southern player to start at least one season in the NFL since 1995.
Elijah Hicks already owns a non-profit charity
Chicago Bears fans got a taste of Hicks the person when he expressed his unshackled excitement at being drafted by doing clapping push-ups during a social media video. They might be surprised to learn the Cal safety is a 10x better person than he is a football player. Growing up in Long Beach as one of ten siblings, Hicks endured a difficult childhood. Rather than turn to crime and become bitter by that experience, he used it as motivation to better himself. So he established his own charity called the Intercept Poverty Foundation, intent on helping low-income students overcome financial difficulties similar to the ones he faces. His foundation was particularly successful during the COVID-19 pandemic, raising almost $70,000 to help families feed their kids.
Trenton Gill was maybe even better at soccer
Though he eventually earned his fame as a punter at N.C. State football wasn’t the only sport Gill excelled at. In high school, he was a dominant player for his soccer team as well. He led his team in goals (16) and assists (10) during his senior year. He likely could’ve gone to college, given his success. The only problem was his reputation in football was already established. During that same senior year, he was named the kicker and punter of the year in his school’s region. N.C. State came calling and the rest is history.