Tanking is not something players and coaches want to hear. Their livelihoods are built around winning football games. So if Justin Fields is healthy enough to play, he will play no matter how much the Chicago Bears draft enthusiasts wish he wouldn’t. Right now, the team sits in a premium position. Current projections have them holding the #2 overall pick in the 2023 draft. That would give tons of leverage next spring. Either they likely get the best non-quarterback prospect in the entire class, or they trade the pick to a QB-needy team for a bounty of picks in return. GM Ryan Poles seems like the type who’d entertain that idea.
Many people might not know how precarious the Bears’ hold on that pick is right now. As things stand, there are two other teams with only three wins. The Broncos and Rams. Their picks are controlled by Seattle and Detroit, respectively. After that, there are four more teams with identical 4-8 records. For an idea of how slim the margins are, if Denver and L.A. won to reach four wins while those other four teams all lost, which would include the Bears winning to reach 4-9, their draft spot would fall all the way to 9th.
How is that possible? Trevor Sikkema and Connor Rogers of Pro Football Focus explained the hidden details behind it.
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The Chicago Bears’ objective ahead is clear.
Two things must happen if they want to maintain control of the #2 pick. They must lose all five of their remaining games, and then they need Denver and L.A. to win at least once over the final six weeks. The good news is both possibilities aren’t completely farfetched. Chicago’s last five games include Green Bay, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit, and Minnesota. Those are three future playoff teams and two that have already beaten them once this year. The Rams have some prime opportunities to get a win, including games against the Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. Getting Matthew Stafford back from injury would be most helpful. As for Denver, they have the struggling Arizona Cardinals and of course, the Rams still to come.
Unfortunately, the Chicago Bears have a history of bungling opportunities like this in the past. Their only win of 1969 ended up costing them the #1 pick and quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Then in 1997, they had a direct line to quarterback Peyton Manning in the upcoming 1998 draft. Then two wins against the Rams and Lions in December knocked them out of the running. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see them ruin an opportunity to land a top prospect because they just had to beat the Lions or Vikings for that coveted fourth win.