LAKE FOREST — Ryan Poles was working very quickly on Friday night late in the second round and early in the third on Friday night.
After selecting at No. 53 and then No. 56 after a trade, the general manager was back on the clock at No. 64 in the third round.
But Poles stayed consistent with his selections on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, once again taking a defender with this third selection. For a second time, he added to the defensive line, taking defensive lineman Zacch Pickens from South Carolina.
The 6-foot-4, 305 pound lineman played four seasons with the Gamecocks, finishing with 7 1/2 sacks, 11 1/2 tackles for loss, four passes deflected in 47 collegiate games.
Pickens is the third defensive player taken by the Bears on the second day of the draft, with the team picking another defensive lineman – Florida’s Gervon Dexter Sr.- with the 53rd overall pick. After a trade with the Jaguars to move up to the 56th pick, the team took cornerback Tyrique Stevenson from Miami.
A native of Anderson, South Carolina, Pickens played in 12 games as a true freshman for the Gamecocks as a reserve then started seven games his sophomore year of 2020. He’d start the final 25 games of his career in college, collecting 6 1/2 sacks and 9 1/2 tackles for loss during that time.
Like Dexter, Pickens will have the opportunity to contribute on an interior of a defensive line looking to improve after a difficult 2022 season. Without consistent push from the middle, the Bears pass rush struggled, finishing last in the NFL in sacks.