The Chicago Bears are just over a month away from one of the most important drafts in years. They’ve already set the tone by trading the #1 overall pick to Carolina, securing three extra picks and wide receiver D.J. Moore in the process. GM Ryan Poles knows the stakes. If he can land a good player at #9 overall, it could set his team up for a massive turnaround in 2023 and chart the course toward eventual playoff contention. What nobody knows is who the Bears may have in mind for that spot.
Based on the latest rumblings, it sounds like they plan to target one of the top offensive tackles. Some think it’s Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, but the heavy favorite is Paris Johnson of Ohio State. Broderick Jones of Georgia is also in the discussion. The lingering question is whether or not Poles follows through on the hints he dropped about trading down again. Former Bears scout Greg Gabriel believes it is a strong possibility and even mentioned a target they may have in mind were Poles to pull the trigger. He explained on Windy City Gridiron.
“Another option the Bears have is to trade down from nine. By doing so, they still may have a shot at Carter, depending on how other clubs feel. They could miss out on the top tackles, but there are others they could easily select later in the first round. That would include Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison, who is an athletic and nasty left tackle.
A trade down would bring back an extra pick or picks depending on how far they decide to move. It would also build up their draft capital to use to move up in the second round. It’s my opinion that the first half of the second round is a strong point in this Draft. To be able to have two selections in that area would be extremely beneficial to the Bears’ Draft plans.”
The Chicago Bears may have shifted on Harrison at the combine.
Some felt the Oklahoma tackle was an average athlete. Then he posted impressive drill numbers, including a 4.98 in the 40-yard dash. NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein compared him to Buffalo Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins. While he may not be a dominant run blocker, he uses good technique, long arms, and solid athleticism to lock down pass rushers. He also has a nasty disposition that Poles would appreciate. Harrison has more question marks than Johnson or Jones, but his upside isn’t that different from theirs.
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This comes down to Poles and how confident he is Harrison will be a good player. If he doesn’t trust that possibility, then he will likely stay at #9 to take the best players on his board. It is a firm reminder that drafting is not easy. GMs must gauge how things are expected to fall, account for unexpected trades, and calculate what the lowest spot a team can drop to and still get a player they want is. That is what the Chicago Bears are in the process of doing.