Bears Dodged Bullet in NFL Draft That Could Have Cost Team Austin Booker

Rome Odunze, Bears

Getty Wide receiver Rome Odunze of the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears dodged something of a bullet in April’s NFL Draft by avoiding an unnecessary trade up in the first round.

Ari Meirov of 33rd Team and the AM Show reported on Friday, June 14, that the Bears were open to trading a future Day 2 pick to the Atlanta Falcons to ensure they landed wide receiver Rome Odunze, formerly of Washington.

“The Bears were open to trading a future 4th to the #Falcons to move from [pick No.] 9 to 8 to secure Rome Odunze,” Meirov wrote. “Seems like Atlanta wasn’t interested. The Bears still got Odunze. But this feels noteworthy after Atlanta lost a future 5th this week for tampering.”

Bears Considered Austin Booker Undervalued in NFL Draft

Austin Booker, Bears

GettyEdge defender Austin Booker of the Chicago Bears.

The Bears ended up using a future fourth-rounder to trade back into the fifth round and select defensive end Austin Booker the following day.

The team may still have traded a valuable asset to get Booker on the roster, but flipping a second fourth-round pick in the same draft would have been a tougher decision for Chicago’s war room after moving up for Odunze. As it happened out, the Bears liked Booker enough — and felt the rest of the league had undervalued him enough — to swap a full round of value for the pass rusher out of Kansas.

“The Bears used a 2025 fourth-round pick to trade back into this draft (at No. 144) and scoop up Booker,” Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote on April 29. “Although he isn’t ready for a meaningful role as a rookie, Booker has the promising pass-rush savvy to be a steal when we look back at this selection in two or three years.”

Austin Booker Could Challenge for Starting Job, Rome Odunze Good Bet to Start as Rookie

Rome Odunze Injury Update Bears Injuries Chicago Bears News

GettyChicago Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze.

Booker could potentially see meaningful snaps in the defensive rotation as early as his first year, or even challenge for a starting job depending on whether the Bears add more personnel behind prospective starters Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker.

Jacob Infante of Windy City Gridiron on June 3 noted a contest between Booker and Walker as one of a handful of position battles worth watching over the summer.

At his best, Walker has been a serviceable starting EDGE, but he wasn’t that last year. He’ll have a chance to carve out a key role for himself.

The main competition for Walker right now is Booker. … He’s a toolsy, lengthy edge rusher with a quick first step and a high motor. The issue with Booker is that he’s raw as a processor and doesn’t always have the best plan as a pass rusher, which could limit his immediate value in Year 1. Booker has the tools to be a starter in the NFL, but there might be a learning curve that prevents him from being one right away.

Odunze, on the other hand, is the frontrunner start at wide receiver alongside DJ Moore and Keenan Allen when Chicago’s season kicks off in September. They will all catch passes from Odunze’s fellow rookie, quarterback Caleb Williams.

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