Bears’ Braxton Jones, Darnell Wright make PFF’s list of top NFL offensive tackles

The Chicago Bears spent the offseason overhauling their offense, from drafting quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Rome Odunze to acquiring veterans such as wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back D’Andre Swift. While the skill positions were upgraded, general manager Ryan Poles chose to maintain the status quo with most of the offensive line, specifically at the tackle position.

While many fans wanted to see an upgrade, one NFL analyst believes both Bears starting tackles can be considered near the top of the position rankings.

Zoltán Buday of Pro Football Focus (PFF) recently released his top 32 offensive tackles heading into the 2024 season, and both Bears starting tackles just barely cracked the list. Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright came in at No. 31 and 32, respectively, making the Bears one of nine teams to have both of their tackles listed. Here is what Buday had to say about Jones:

A fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah in 2022, Jones proved in 2023 that his impressive rookie season was not a fluke. Although he was slowed down by an injury and had a bit of a decline from his 2022 season, he is still one of 24 offensive tackles to have earned pass-blocking grades over 70.0 in each of the last two seasons.

And Wright:

The only second-year player on this list, Wright’s 66.0 run-blocking grade ranked first among his rookie class. In addition, he was also promising in pass protection toward the second half of the season after going through some growing pains in the first month. After giving up one sack in each of his first five games in the NFL, the former Tennessee Volunteer allowed just three sacks in his final 12 games.

The Bears invested a first-round pick in Wright, who was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. As Buday points out, he’s the only player from his draft class to be included in this list, beating out the likes of Paris Johnson Jr., Broderick Jones, and Dawand Jones. Wright started all 17 games of his rookie season and has a bright future ahead of him.

As for Jones, many wondered if Poles would look to upgrade at the left tackle position this offseason. The 2022 fifth-round pick has been solid, but with players such as Joe Alt and Olu Fashanu available in this year’s draft, it seemed possible the Bears could move off Jones in favor of someone else. Poles chose to go in a different direction, however, meaning Jones gets to keep his starting spot as he continues to develop.

At first glance, seeing both Bears tackles at the very bottom of the list might not move the needle for fans. Seeing as there are 64 starting offensive tackles in the league, Jones and Wright are essentially considered average players at their position at this point in their careers. But on the other hand, they’re both still young and ascending. Plus, having two capable tackles is a far cry from what this offensive line looked like just a couple of years ago. With the additions at the other positions, the Bears offense is shaping up to be a solid unit in 2024.

Story originally appeared on Bears Wire