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The Bears stood at #53 Friday night and got their three techs, selecting Florida defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr.
Playing Dexter, a three-year rookie at just 21 years old, has a clear need along the defensive line and numbers to slip into the crucial point on Matt Eberflus’ defense. General Manager’s first two picks Ryan Pauls tackled the trenches.
draft scores: Scott Dochterman in Round 1 | 2-3 rounds
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Dexter was the best defensive tackle available, per Dane Brugler’s last big vamp. Wisconsin’s Keeanu Benton went a few picks earlier to the Steelers. Northwestern’s Adetomiwa Adebawore was also on the board, but Dexter is about 6-foot-6.
The Bears could have rebounded to the cornerback, but the triple technique is a greater need, and several edge runners came off the plate Friday night.
Dexter was the No. 3 defensive offense in the 2020 recruiting class — ahead of Jalen Carter — and was also recruited to play ACC basketball. In three seasons with the Gators, he played in 38 football games with 24 starts and had 9 1/2 tackles for loss, 4 1/2 sacks, four passes defensed and two interceptions. Dexter was always on point with his career, playing in every game over his three seasons in Gainesville.
Dexter ran a 4.88/40 in the combine, fifth best among defensive tackles. He had the third-best header in his position and the fifth-best three-cone time.
How does it fit him
Eberflus calls the 3-tech the “engine” that makes the defense go. He is the inside linebacker who lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard and is expected to rush the passer. We know how important that is to the defense, and that’s the position Dexter played in the Gators’ four-man front.
You’d probably like to see more production from Dexter, but defensive line stats in college can be overestimated depending on the player’s role. The Bears sure have looked at the tape to see how Dexter handled the SEC’s offensive linemen. Bruegler wrote that Dexter “must develop a more disciplined style of turning flashes into more consistent play, but he’s a nimble, consistent big guy who hasn’t given his best yet. He’s a projection based on traits and can play both up and down.”
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Dexter will be relied upon to be the long-range triple runner for this defense. They don’t have anyone else – these two veterans are on expired contracts.
Brugler wrote that Dexter “has been reported several times for roughness due to his tendency to put all his weight on the quarterback,” and the coaching staff will have to work on that because he will be tougher in the NFL. On the plus side, Dexter plays “with an urgency in the running game,” and the Bears defense struggled late last season.
From an Eberflus perspective, Brugler writes that Dexter “has assumed a more leadership role in 2022 and coaches have described him as a ‘unifying presence’ behind the scenes.” This will have some weight with the bears’ decision makers.
Depth graph effect
The Bears entered the draft with two defensive tackles: Justin Jones, who was in the final year of his two-year contract, and Andrew Billings, who is a more nose tackle and has a one-year contract.
Jones led the team in tackles for losses last season, but he’s better off as a major league player if the D-line plays at a high level. Dexter will have more potential to be a game-breaker with his traits, but if he takes some time to adjust, he could learn from Jones. There’s still room to add bears here, considering the value Eberflus places on the position.
The defensive line was woefully outclassed throughout the second half of last season, and a player as majestic as Dexter should only help. “Dexter carries his weight well with amazing quickness of foot and rushing passing potential, though you wish he had more backfield production to offer him,” Bruegler wrote. “His influence can be traced to his ability to tap—he’s a very different player when he’s using his long tackles to put blockers on skates as a pass rusher or anchor, stacking and working the point in a running game.”
Dexter has the traits and pedigree of a top recruit, and the Bears will be counting on Eberflus, defensive coordinator Alan Williams and defensive line coach Travis Smith to make the most of his tri-tech.
(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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