2024 QB class could impact Bears' offseason in two key ways


General manager Ryan Poles and the Bears have many paths in front of them this offseason. Armed with almost $100 million in salary cap, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and a young quarterback in Justin Fields, Poles can travel almost any road he wants.

Conventional wisdom suggests the Bears will look to trade the No. 1 pick for a king's ransom and use the assets in their offseason war chest to build around Fields. While the 23-year-old signal-caller isn't a finished product, he has shown enough flashes in unfair circumstances to deserve a fair shot at cementing his place as the franchise signal-caller in 2023.

There will be whispers that the Bears are open to trading Fields and drafting a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick. Poles wouldn't be doing his job if he wasn't selling other teams on the idea that the Bears are open to everything.

But the Bears' most likely course of action is to build up the talent around Fields this offseason and see if he can take a big leap as a passer in 2023.

The state of the 2024 quarterback draft class should also give the Bears the confidence to give Fields the third year he earned with electric playmaking ability this past season. If Fields doesn't improve in the necessary areas, a quarterback class headed by Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams and North Carolina's Drake Maye awaits.

However, the depth of the 2024 class, which could also include Texas' Quinn Ewers and Oregon's Bo Nix, could also work against the Bears in their quest to maximize the trade return for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 class.

While it's not unanimous, there's a widely-held belief among NFL scouts and evaluators that Williams and Maye would be the first and second pick in the 2023 draft if they were eligible.

Alabama's Bryce Young oozes talent, but teams will heavily scrutinize his slight frame in the pre-draft process. Some teams will be too scared of the injury risk to use a high pick on him. Ohio State's C.J. Stroud has all the tools, but he might not have the ceiling of Williams or Maye. Will Levis and Anthony Richardson, the other two projected first-round quarterbacks in 2023, are considered toolsy projects.

RELATED: Fields trade chatter only means one thing for Bears

Quarterback evaluation is an inexact science. Some evaluators dismissed Josh Allen and Justin Herbert in the pre-draft process, while others pounded the table for Zach Wilson over Fields and Mac Jones.

Young could turn out to be a star. Williams or Maye could bust.

But as teams look to find that superstar quarterback to turn their franchise around, some teams could wait until 2024 to take their draft swing on a quarterback. Could that lead a team facing a long rebuild like the Houston Texans to address other needs with their two first-round picks in 2023, believing they'll likely have a shot at one of the studs next April? It's possible.

Teams like the Indianapolis Colts, who have veteran talent but a whole at quarterback, likely will be less inclined to wait until 2024. The Bears will have trade options, but the specter of Williams and Maye might cause some teams to hold off.

However, it should also give the Bears the confidence to let Fields lead them in 2023. I believe he has the talent and drive to make a Jalen Hurts-type leap with better talent around him next fall. If he doesn't? The Bears should be back at the top of the draft, with the ammo to move up for one of the prizes of 2024.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us