Sunday, July 14, 2024

Dream Scenarios For Da Bears

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NFL draft week is finally here! In less than 48 hours, Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles will continue reshaping the roster into his version of the Monsters of the Midway. It will be Poles’ second draft as GM but his first with a 1st round pick. After trading away the #1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for a package including wide receiver DJ Moore, Carolina’s 2024 first-round pick, and two second-round picks (61 this year and Carolina’s 2nd rounder in 2025), Poles will make his first selection at #9. In a draft with no clear #1 pick and several quarterback-hungry teams, several scenarios will have the Chicago Bears looking like winners on draft night.

QB Run Fuels Bears to Pick Best Player Available at Position of Need

This year’s draft features a Big Four at quarterback in Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Kentucky’s Will Levis. Every year, quarterbacks are drafted higher than they should be as teams look to find their franchise QB of the future. The strategy doesn’t always work; see Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, and Mitch Trubisky as examples of QBs drafted way too high. Nonetheless, teams will continue to take their shot at the most critical position in the NFL, and this year should be no different. After trading for the #1 pick, there is no doubt that Carolina will take a QB #1. Houston at 2, Indianapolis at 4, and Las Vegas at 7 are all in the market for quarterbacks. Seattle at 5, Detroit at 6, and Atlanta at 8 have not committed long-term to their starting quarterbacks. Add in QB-needy teams outside the Top 10 that could trade up, including Tennessee at 11, Washington at 16, and Tampa Bay at 19; there’s a strong chance that four quarterbacks will be selected before the Bears pick at #9. That leaves four non-QBs between the Bears and their top selection. Assuming that the remaining teams are drafting based on the best player available while looking to fill positions of need, the Bears could be looking at this scenario:

  1. Carolina Panthers – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  2. Houston Texans – C.J. Stound, QB, Ohio State
  3. TRADE: Las Vegas Raiders – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  4. Indianapolis Colts – Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
  5. Seattle Seahawks – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
  6. Detroit Lions – Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
  7. TRADE: Arizona Cardinals – Will Anderson, DE, Alabama
  8. Atlanta Falcons – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  9. Chicago Bears – OL Pete Skoronski/Paris Johnson Jr./Broderick Jones /Darnell Wright, Defensive End Nolan Smith or Luke Van Ness, cornerback, or JSN?

Chicago Bears Get Top Offensive Lineman or Lightning Quick Defensive End

In this QB-fueled, best-player-available scenario – the Chicago Bears would be sitting at #9 with their choice of offensive lineman. Whether that pick becomes Northwestern’s Pete Skoronski, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., Georgia’s Broderick Jones, or Tennessee right tackle Darnell Wright will ultimately be Ryan Poles’ decision to make. But after drafting starting left tackle Braxton Jones in the 5th round last year, the former offensive lineman turned GM has already hit on one pick on that side of the line.

If he chooses to go defense, the Bears could select the next-best defensive lineman, who many consider Nolan Smith of Georgia or Luke Van Ness of Iowa. Despite not starting at Iowa, Van Ness fits the athletic profile that Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus are looking for on defense: long, strong, and fast. After recording seven sacks last year, Van Ness measured at 6’5″ with 34″ arms and 272 lbs.

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Don’t sleep on defensive end, Nolan Smith, however. The Georgia Bulldog recorded the second-fastest 40-yard time by a defensive lineman since 2003, outrunning NFL superstars Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins in the process.

For a Chicago Bears defensive line needing playmakers, Smith’s speed could offset his less-than-ideal weight and keep NFC North quarterbacks on the run.

Top QB Drops to #9

If one of the Big Four QBs falls to #9, much like Justin Fields did two years ago to #11, the Bears will be in a prime position to recoup a 2nd round pick, having traded theirs for Chase Claypool, and maybe even more. In the Fields trade, the Bears sent a first, fourth, and fifth-rounder to the New York Giants, moving from #20 to #11. If a quarterback falls to #9, Poles should be ready to make a similar trade, even if it drops him out of the “blue chip” prospect zone he desires. Adding another first-round pick next year and dropping to the #18-22 range still will likely give Poles the chance to draft a top wide receiver, such as Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the top four cornerbacks like Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., or a luxury selection like Texas running back Bijan Robinson.

While none of those positions is arguably the Bears’ top need, acquiring the additional first-round pick and taking the best player available gives Poles even more flexibility long-term.

Defensive Lynchpin Falls to Bears

The scenarios above played out as most analysts expect them to on draft night. Where the Big Four QBs go will dictate how the rest of the draft shakes out. But as we all know, draft night can be unpredictable. It takes just one team to throw a curveball into the fold. What if two teams zag on draft night and take a player not expected to go in the Top 8? What would that look like?

  1. Carolina Panthers – Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  2. Houston Texans – Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech
  3. Arizona Cardinals – Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
  4. Indianapolis Colts – C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
  5. Seattle Seahawks – Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  6. Detroit Lions – Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
  7. Las Vegas Raiders – Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  8. Atlanta Falcons – Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
  9. Chicago Bears – Will Anderson, DE, Alabama

Flexibility Puts Da Bears in the best position on draft night.

The Bears still have holes on both sides of the ball. Staying flexible to how the draft board falls gives them the best opportunity to get who they want…or to capitalize on another team’s desperation. Acquiring D.J. Moore to help Justin Fields in the passing game was an important one. Now they need to protect him and find out if he’s a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. If so, a contract extension looms. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts just signed a 5-year, $255-million contract. Fields will command a deal in the $200 million range if he takes the next step. Finding out if he’s more than just an electric runner is imperative. Giving him weapons and protecting him is the best way to find out.

If the Bears stay at #9, I expect them to take Skoronski or Paris Johnson unless Tyree Wilson, Will Anderson, or Jalen Carter fall. If any of them are on the board, all bets are off. Either way, draft night should be fun.

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