Bears Predicted to Repeat History, Trade Down in NFL Draft

Stefon Diggs Trade Bears Rumors NFL Rumors

Getty Bears general manager Ryan Poles.

The Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft and the haul it brought back was almost unthinkably good. Just one year later, a similar opportunity is presenting itself to GM Ryan Poles.

Chicago doesn’t appear likely to deal the top pick again in 2024, which the team acquired from the Carolina Panthers via its blockbuster draft deal one offseason ago. Quarterback Caleb Williams is one of the most lauded prospects in recent memory, and the Bears traded three-year starter Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a conditional sixth-round pick just a couple of weeks past. The team is taking a quarterback early, and it is probably going to be Williams at No. 1.

However, Chicago also owns the 9th pick in a stocked draft that is likely to see as many as four quarterbacks come off the board in the top five selections. That formula is poised to leave a wealth of talent at numerous premier positions in the back half of the top 10, which should afford the Bears another chance to land a haul.

Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report predicted on Friday, March 29 that the franchise will trade out of the 9th spot and accomplish just that.

The Bears have the ninth pick, which could wind up being a valuable spot. It’s not hard to envision Rome Odunze still on the board as well as the top tackles outside of Joe Alt along with top defensive prospects.

However, the Bears’ trade to add Keenan Allen to their receiving corps alleviates the stress to find another receiver in the top 10, and Braxton Jones has played well enough at left tackle that the Bears have some flexibility. … They also only have four total picks for the whole draft.

Elite Edge Defender Projected to Remain Available to Bears With No. 9 Pick in NFL Draft

Jared Verse, Florida State

GettyEdge defender Jared Verse of the Florida State Seminoles.

Chicago’s situation at pick No. 9 is actually even better than it appears at first glance because of the team’s particular needs and the players available.

If Odunze is there, the Bears can draft a pass-catcher who is poised to be elite immediately and for a decade-plus. But if the team intends to extend Allen, a Pro Bowler in six of the past seven seasons, the most immediate position of need is edge rusher.

Not accounting for any potential trades, the latest mock draft authored by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has a run on three QBs with the top three picks followed by three wide receivers going at pick Nos. 4-6, including Odunze 6th to the New York Giants. Alt comes off the board to the Tennessee Titans at No. 7 and the Atlanta Falcons draft the first defensive player in pass rusher Dallas Turner of Alabama with the 8th pick.

That puts Chicago in position to select edge defender Jared Verse at No. 9, who Kiper describes as having the “tools to be a devastating pass rusher at the next level.” But here’s the rub: the Bears may be able to trade back five or six spots, pick up a significant return and still draft Verse in the middle of the first round, as Kiper doesn’t currently have another edge rusher coming off the board until the mid-20s.

Bears May Be Able to Trade Out of 9th Pick, Still Land Elite Edge Rusher and Add Draft Capital

Rome Odunze, Washington

GettyWide receiver Rome Odunze of the Washington Huskies talks with wide receiver Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers.

National NFL writers have floated two potential trade partners for Chicago’s 9th pick in recent days — the New Orleans Saints at No. 14 and the Indianapolis Colts at No. 15.

Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus on Wednesday authored a trade pitch flipping the Bears’ 9th and 75th selections to the Saints in return for pick Nos. 14, 45 and 168.

“A tackle already made sense for the Saints with question marks on the left side,” Spielberger wrote. “Now, with news that stalwart right tackle Ryan Ramczyk has unfortunately not recovered as well as the team had hoped from knee surgery, tackle is by far the biggest need for this roster headed into 2024.”

Then, on Friday, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report suggested a deal swapping pick No. 9 to the Colts for selection Nos. 15, 82, and 117, along with a 2025 third-rounder. That return reads as perhaps too much to expect on Chicago’s behalf, but it hinges on Odunze dropping to No. 9 and includes the caveat that the deal wouldn’t occur until draft day when Indy can verify the wideout’s availability in the 9th overall slot.

In either scenario, Chicago acquires meaningful draft capital for moving down just a handful of spots and still has a good chance to select Verse, who may be the player the Bears want anyway.

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