Bears Linked to ‘Brawler’ as Trade-Down Option in Round 1

Ryan Poles

Getty Bears general manager Ryan Poles.

The Chicago Bears currently have four picks in the NFL draft, two of which are in the top 10.

The Bears are sure to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, with Caleb Williams being the most likely choice. Chicago’s No. 9 selection should be incredibly intriguing and nearly as important, and the idea general manager Ryan Poles will trade down at that spot is gaining steam.

ESPN’s Courtney Cronin reported on March 27 that if the Bears can trade down from nine, they will. Additionally, Sportskeedia’s Tony Pauline just revealed who Chicago may be eyeing if that trade down happens: former University of Washington standout offensive lineman Troy Fautanu.

“Fautanu was meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles and Las Vegas Raiders after the workout. The Chicago Bears have also shown an interest in the talented blocker, so keep him on the radar if they trade out of the 9th spot,” Pauline wrote.

Bears GM Ryan Poles Has Said He’s Open to Trading Down

At the annual NFL owners meetings, Poles was asked about the No. 9 pick specifically.

“We have different tiers on our draft board. I like the numbers in terms of the talented players that can get to nine,” the Bears GM said, via NBC Sports, also noting he’s open to trading the pick depending on how the board falls.

“That will kinda play out,” Poles said about trading back from nine. “We’ll see what the numbers look like and that’ll kinda dictate how far we can move back if we decide to do that.”

With their only other selections at No. 75 overall (Round 3) and No. 122 overall (Round 4) this year, adding a second-rounder or more seems desirable. A trade-down would likely give Chicago that.

Trading Down Would Make OL Troy Fautanu Likely Target for Bears Later in Round 1 of 2024 Draft draft expert Lance Zierlein referred to Fautanu as a “Ready-made brawler without an ounce of finesse in his game.”

Here’s what Zierlein wrote about the young OL in his draft profile:

“Fautanu has starting experience at tackle and guard and is well-coached, but he will default to unruly hand-fighting when his technique gets away from him. … He’s a pop-and-reset pass puncher who uses active hands and feet to help with extended mirroring he’s forced into. Fautanu needs to prove he has the leverage and hand quickness to play inside, but all signs point toward him becoming a good future starter.”

Fautanu won the Morris Trophy in 2023, an award given to the top offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-12 conference. He has predominantly played left tackle, but he also has experience playing left guard.

In 15 games (623 pass block snaps) last season, Fautanu gave up 2.0 sacks, three quarterback hits and 18 hurries, earning an 88.2 pass rush grade from PFF. In 1,332 pass block snaps over his last three years, he has surrendered three sacks, five QB hits and 35 hurries.

Should the Bears add Fautanu, it would likely leave the team’s starter at LT over the last two seasons, 2022 fifth-rounder Braxton Jones, as the team’s backup swing tackle.

Jones has started 28 games for Chicago over the last two years, allowing nine sacks, six QB hits and 57 hurries in 963 pass block snaps, per PFF. He has been serviceable and underrated at times, but don’t be surprised if Poles and company grab a superior lineman if one becomes available.