The Chicago Bears have finally agreed to a blockbuster trade for their No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, one that will land them two additional second-round picks, one first-rounder and wide receiver D.J. Moore, but they could have added to their pick haul if they had been willing to give on Moore.
According to Panthers insider Joe Person of The Athletic, the Bears could have gotten Carolina’s 2025 first-round pick added to their compensation for the No. 1 pick, but general manager Ryan Poles made Moore a “must-have” part of the trade and elected to add a true No. 1 pass-catcher for quarterback Justin Fields instead of an extra pick.
The trade for the No. 1 overall pick was always going to be Poles’ biggest undertaking yet, but the second-year general manager proved he could balance both the short- and long-term needs of his football team in his final deal with the Panthers. Rather than risk it with a free agent receiver from an admittedly weak class, he leveraged his best asset into a talent with more than 5,200 receiving yards over his first five seasons. Poles also did so while adding an additional premium draft pick in each of the next three drafts, counting the upcoming one this April.
The Bears now have four picks inside the top 64 of the 2023 NFL draft: The No. 9 pick (via the Panthers), the No. 53 pick (via the Baltimore Ravens from the Roquan Smith trade), the No. 61 pick (via the Panthers) and the No. 64 pick (their own third-rounder). They also have additional picks in the fifth and seventh rounds, but none in the sixth.
What Becomes Top Priority for Bears at No. 9 Overall?
Before the trade, the Bears seemed like a likely landing spot for either Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or Georgia’s Jalen Carter, but that was when most people expected them to either stay at No. 1 overall or trade down somewhere within the top four picks. Now that they are picking ninth overall, though, the possibilities are much more open.
With the Bears taking such a big swing on offense in the deal for the No. 1 pick, it would make sense if they used their new first-rounder to invest in the defensive side of the ball. They are likely going to miss out on guys like Anderson and Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson as a result of their eight-spot drop in the order, but some of the other high-level defensive options could include edge rushers Myles Murphy, Lukas Van Ness and Nolan Smith or defensive tackles Calijah Kancey and Brian Breese.
It is also possible the Bears are also looking to see if Carter falls on draft boards in light of his recent legal troubles in Georgia. He is facing two misdemeanor charges for racing and reckless driving in connection with a fatal crash that occurred back in January, but if the situation resolves itself in a way that has the Bears feeling good about Carter’s fit and character, they could be looking to take him if he’s on the board at No. 9.
Then again, maybe the Bears are able to handle some of those defensive needs in free agency and find themselves looking for ways to improve the offensive side of their line with the No. 9 pick instead. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. could both be available when they are on the clock and might tempt them into moving PFWA All-Rookie selection Braxton Jones over to the right side for 2023.
Which Rookie WRs Could Appeal to Bears in 2023 Draft?
The Bears now have a solidified trio of starting wide receivers between Moore, Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney. They also probably have enough depth behind them between Equanimeous St. Brown and Velus Jones Jr. to feel comfortable about not signing any more receivers in free agency. If there is an addition to be made to the receiving corps beyond Moore, though, the Bears might find him in the draft.
Despite the depth, the Bears have good reason to draft a receiver out of the 2023 class, if only to act a bit more leverage in their upcoming negotiations with Mooney and Claypool — who are each entering the final season of their rookie contracts. Before Moore, one might have thought Poles would swing for the fences and trade down into position for someone like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison or Quentin Johnston, but now a Day 2 or Day 3 prospect makes more sense.
The Bears have many needs at the moment, but depending on how those needs trim down in free agency, there could be an opportunity to spend as high as a second- or third-round pick on a new receiver, especially if someone like Zay Flowers or Jalin Hyatt falls into their range at No. 53 overall. Rashee Rice, Marvin Mims Jr., Josh Downs, Cedric Tillman and Tank Dell are also interesting talents who could interest Chicago.