NFL Insider Predicts Bears Flip 9th Pick, Draft ‘Stud’ OT and Net 2nd-Rounder

JC Latham, Alabama

Getty Offensive tackle JC Latham of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Chicago Bears have a handful of excellent options with the No. 9 pick in the NFL draft, including trading the selection and turning it into two quality players.

Peter Schrager of predicted such a path on Tuesday, April 16, writing that he expects the Bears to send the 9th overall selection to the Indianapolis Colts for the No. 15 pick and a future second-rounder. He then projects Chicago will draft offensive tackle JC Latham out of Alabama in the middle of the first round.

“After piling up more draft capital by trading back, the Bears still land a stud offensive tackle,” Schrager said. “Latham could be the second OT taken on draft night — some teams like him that much. If the board falls this way, Chicago adds a big, pedigreed bookend who can join last year’s first-round tackle, Darnell Wright, in protecting the new franchise quarterback, Caleb Williams.”

JC Latham Projects to Have High Ceiling as Pro, Particularly as Run Blocker

Bears Top 30 Visit Tracker 2024 NFL Draft JC Latham

GettyFormer Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham.

Latham would be a massive addition to the Bears offensive line, literally, standing at 6-feet, 6-inches tall and weighing between 340-360 pounds.

Lance Zierlein of NFL Network compared Latham to Jawaan Taylor, a five-year starter and Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Zierlein projects Latham as a first-round pick and as a rookie starter wherever he ends up.

Bulldozer in human form with the upper- and lower-body power to forcibly evacuate run lanes and instantly upgrade a team’s ground attack. Latham’s body type is girthy, and he has elite drive-blocking talent.

His pass sets are well-balanced with good initial quickness and active hands. He unleashes lefts and rights and mirrors effectively after contact but gets beaten by inside moves when he over-sets. He has the length and hand strength to shut rushers down but needs to become more comfortable setting diagonally rather than vertically to avoid sinking too deeply into his own pocket.

Bears Predicted to Pass on Elite-Level Wide Receiver to Trade Back for JC Latham and Future Pick

Bears Top 30 Visit Tracker 2024 NFL Draft Malik Nabers MAIN

GettyWide receiver Malik Nabers, formerly of LSU.

While Latham is plenty of player for Chicago fans to get excited about, moving back to get him could come at a significant cost. Namely, in Schrager’s mock draft projections, it will mean the Bears passing on LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers.

While ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Field Yates project Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze to fall to No. 9, and Chicago to select him there, Schrager sees Nabers dropping to the bottom end of top 10 and facilitating the Colts’ trade up with the Bears in order to select him there.

Passing on either Nabers or Odunze will hurt at least a little bit throughout Bears country, given the potential QB-WR combo either player could create with Williams — either of which would perhaps be potent enough to tear through the NFL for a decade or more.

However, while the Bears know it is important to provide their future QB with playmakers, they also understand how crucial it is to protect him consistently. A player like Latham can potentially secure the left side of the offensive line, removing a huge source of concern on Williams’ blindside and allowing him to succeed throwing to the likes of receivers DJ Moore and Keenan Allen on the outside.

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