Bears Predicted to Pass on Edge, O-Line in Favor of Elite WR at No. 9

Rome Odunze, Washington

Getty Wide receiver Rome Odunze, formerly of the Washington Huskies.

The Chicago Bears have crushed the offseason to this point and have yet to make two selections in the top nine picks of the upcoming NFL draft.

It is now settled that the Bears will select a quarterback at No. 1, most likely Caleb Williams of USC. That leaves the unknown of who Chicago will take at No. 9 as perhaps the largest looming question of the Bears’ spring.

Matt Miller of ESPN predicted on Saturday, March 23 that the Bears will select Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze in that slot. The projection is interesting, considering Chicago recently traded a fourth-round pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for Pro Bowler Keenan Allen to play alongside another legitimate No. 1 target in DJ Moore.

“The Bears could consider a left tackle here, but I like Braxton Jones on a rookie deal for two more seasons,” Miller wrote. “Odunze would be the ultimate understudy to Allen and DJ Moore, giving Williams (our new Chicago QB in this scenario via the No. 1 pick) some elite targets.”

Extension for Keenan Allen in Chicago May Determine Bears’ Selection at With 9th Pick

Patriots reported trade target Keenan Allen instead landed with the Bears this week.

GettyChicago Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen.

The 2024 draft class is the richest with quarterback prospects in recent memory, but the group of wide receivers also projects to be elite.

Miller and his colleagues at ESPN predict the Arizona Cardinals will select Marvin Harrison Jr. with the fourth pick, assuming they don’t trade back with a QB-needy team like the Minnesota Vikings. LSU’s Malik Nabers also has a good chance to go early, with the same ESPN mock draft projecting the Los Angeles Chargers to take him at No. 5.

The talent of this crop of receivers affords the Bears legitimate value to pick the third one off the board at No. 9, which wouldn’t normally be the case at most positions outside of quarterback. The fact that Chicago has yet to extend Allen on a new contract also makes the potential selection of Odunze more feasible.

Allen was awesome in 2023, earning Pro Bowl honors for the sixth time in the last seven years. He did so by tallying 108 receptions for 1,243 receiving yards and 7 TDs in just 13 games played, per Pro Football Reference.

Extending Allen makes sense for the Bears in that they would also extend the value of the fourth-round pick they traded for him across multiple seasons while, at the same time, dropping his $23.1 million salary cap number in 2024. The concern with that path forward is Allen’s age, he will play next season at 32, and his injury history. The wideout has missed a total of 11 regular-season games due to injury over the past two years.

Bears Could Target Edge Rusher Jared Verse With 9th Pick in NFL Draft

Jared Verse, Florida State

GettyEdge rusher Jared Verse #5 of the Florida State Seminoles.

If Chicago can’t reach an agreement with Allen on a multiyear extension, Odunze makes sense as a long-term target for Williams (or whoever the Bears draft No. 1 overall) alongside Moore. If Allen does get a deal, Odunze could still be Chicago’s guy at No. 9, though drafting a left tackle or edge defender would allow the team to fill a position of need with a quality player on a rookie contract.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN predicted in his most recent mock draft that the Bears will land on pass-rusher Jared Verse, who will be the second defensive player off the board in Kiper’s projected version of events.

“Before the trade for Keenan Allen, I would have said the Bears should do everything they could to try to get one of the top three wideouts in this class. That’s no longer necessary,” Kiper wrote on March 19. “Verse’s testing numbers at the combine were impressive, even if I didn’t love his 2023 tape. He was too inconsistent at times. But at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds, he has a complete set of tools to be a devastating pass-rusher at the next level, if he can put everything together.”

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