2024 NFL Draft

9 players Bears could draft with No. 9 pick this year

Including some players who could be on the list in trade back scenarios

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There will almost certainly be no drama with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Everything points to the Bears selecting Caleb Williams to take over as their new quarterback, and after the team’s visit to Los Angeles for USC’s Pro Day that decision appears to be made.

So now we turn our eyes to the No. 9 pick in the draft.

The Bears have several paths they can go down with their second first-round pick this year. They will break into groups to identify the top wide receivers, offensive tackles and edge rushers in this year’s class, then debate which of those top players will help the team the most both in the short term and over the long haul.

If one of those players is still on the board when they’re back on the clock, it would stand to reason they’d stay pat and add them to the team. But if they either have several blue chippers left on their list at No. 9, or if all the players they’ve identified as “elite” are gone, they could decide to slide back a few spots and recoup some draft capital in the process.

Here’s a list of nine players (in alphabetical order) that the Bears could acquire with the No. 9 pick in the draft, or after trading the No. 9 pick away.


Some consider Alt the most NFL-ready offensive tackle in the draft and it’s easy to see why. He took over as the Fighting Irish starting left tackle partway through the 2021 season and kept that job through the 2023 campaign. This past season he only surrendered five pressures per PFF, which was the second-best number among all tackles with at least 200 pass rush snaps. His exceptional athleticism fits what the Bears want in linemen perfectly, too.

The Bears already have Braxton Jones plugged in at left tackle and he’s made big strides over his first two NFL seasons. If he continues on his current developmental trajectory, he could end up being one of GM Ryan Poles’ best picks. Finding a starting left tackle in the fifth-round is no small feat. Similarly, Darnell Wright showed why the Bears believe he can hold down the right tackle job for years over his rookie season last year.

But behind Jones and Wright, the Bears are thin on the edges. Larry Borom fell out of favor with the team’s new regime when Poles took over for Ryan Pace. He lost his starting job in 2022 and struggled when called upon as a reserve in 2023. The team has added more competition for backup snaps with free agency signings like Matt Pryor, but they could still stand to add to the group.

If the team drafts a player like Alt, he would figure to take over as the starting left tackle. Then Jones could work as a reliable swing tackle when needed. That would be a major upgrade to the team’s depth as a whole.


Fashanu entered the year as a top tackle to watch for good reason. Some draft experts say he’s the best pass-protecting lineman in the class, and the numbers back it up. According to PFF, Fashanu never gave up a sack in 1,347 snaps for the Nittany Lions at left tackle.

He’s another incredible athlete, but his RAS numbers aren’t off the charts like Alt’s. He would also bolster the team’s tackle depth, as explained in the Alt blurb above. Fashanu won Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2023.


There’s expected to be a big run on offensive players at the top of the draft. With J.J. McCarthy climbing draft boards, the “big three” wide receivers Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers, and pro-ready left tackles Alt and Fashanu in the mix, there’s a real chance the Bears could have the opportunity to either draft the first defensive player or move back and grab another highly touted player later in the first round. Latu likely falls in that second camp.

Latu rushes from a two-point stance a lot, and the Bears like their edge rushers to use a three-point stance, but that little discrepancy shouldn’t matter. Scouts love how Latu uses exceptional technique to shed blocks, and note his quick play speed. Latu never quits on a play, which is a prerequisite for Eberflus’ program. In addition, Latu can kick inside to rush over the tackle or from the b-gap, and the Bears love that kind of versatility. Latu’s 26.2% win rate on pass rushes was No. 2 in the country among players with at least 100 pass rush snaps.


Murphy’s five sacks and 8.5 TFL don’t jump off the page, but he was a disruptive force on the Longhorns line working alongside T’Vondre Sweat. In fact, his 19.6% pass rush win rate was the best in the nation among defensive tackles with at least 100 pass rush snaps, per PFF. Like many of the linemen on this list, Murphy has an elite RAS score. And like many of the linemen on this list, he’s versatile. Murphy split his time nearly evenly between three-tech and nose tackle in 2021. But in 2022 and 2023 that shifted to Murphy playing just over two thirds of his snaps at three-tech. He’s capable of disrupting the backfield at either spot. Murphy won Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year last season.

The Bears need to find a replacement for Justin Jones who signed with the Cardinals this offseason. Even if they believe second-year tackle Gervon Dexter is ready to take over as the starter between Andrew Billings and Montez Sweat, they’ll have to backfill the position. As things stand, the Bears only have four DTs on their active roster: Dexter, Billings, Zacch Pickens and newcomer Byron Cowart. Billings primarily plays nose tackle and Cowart didn’t play at all last year, so it wouldn’t be surprising for the team to draft another defensive tackle this year, even after picking Dexter and Pickens last year.


Nabers has the chance to be a top-five pick in the draft because he’s a big play waiting to happen, who’s also extremely versatile. According to PFF, Nabers split his time nearly evenly between snaps out wide and in the slot. No matter where he lined up, he was one of the most explosive deep threats in the nation. Nabers finished the year with a whopping 1,568 yards and 14 touchdowns. The 1,568 yards were second in the nation, and his 3.64 yards per route run was third.

It feels unlikely that he’ll still be on the board when the Bears are ready to pick again, but if he is, the team will have to seriously consider adding him to their offense. DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and Nabers would instantly become one of the best WR trios in the league.


Newton is a dynamic three-tech who can help plug up holes in the run game and creates pressure in the pass game. His eight sacks were tied for first among interior defensive linemen this season. His 43 pressures were tied for second, per PFF. His 15.4% pass rush win rate was tied for eighth among interior linemen with at least 100 pass rush snaps. For his efforts, Newton won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

As mentioned earlier, the Bears will need to add to the interior of their defensive line with Jones in Arizona. The best pass rushes come at their opponents in waves, and adding a player like Newton will allow the Bears to maintain pressure while keeping everyone fresh at the same time.


Odunze is another wide receiver who could be gone before the Bears are back on the clock. He’s bigger than Nabers and his 6’3” frame would give the Bears another tall target to complement Moore (5’11”) and Allen (6’2”). Odunze was also one of the best deep threats in the nation so the verticality in his game should further open up the middle and short section of the field where Moore and Allen both thrive.

Few players can match Odunze’s resume from 2023. Among WRs with 100 targets: 1,639 yards (1st), 74 first downs (1st), 21 contested catches (1st), 75% contested catch rate (1st), 15.5 yard average depth of target (2nd), 13 TDs (t-4th), 3.2% drop rate (6th).


Draft experts call Turner explosive off the ball, and that was before he ran a blistering 4.47 second 40-yard dash at the Combine. That type of speed opposite Montez Sweat should have the Bears drooling. Turner’s not a one-trick pony, though. Watch five minutes of highlights and you’ll see Turner win both by running past blockers or running right through them. His relentless pursuit of the ball is noticeable too, and the Bears will love that. Even though he’s listed as an outside linebacker, Turner has plenty of experience rushing with a hand in the dirt, which is important to play defensive end in Matt Eberflus’ scheme.

In 58 games with the Crimson Tide, Turner racked up 23.5 sacks, 33.5 TFLs and 117 total pressures. He was named a Chuck Bednarik award finalist in 2023, which recognizes the top defensive player in the nation.


Verse was not the most consistently productive pass rusher this year (4.5 sacks over first 11 games, 4.5 sacks over last two games), but he beat his man at a great clip throughout the year (21.8% pass rush win rate) and he’s more of a natural defensive end than the other edge rushers on this list. Verse also showed off a great blend of speed and power at the NFL Combine. His 4.58 second 40-yard dash ranked fourth among all defensive ends. His 7.31 second three-cone drill ranked third. Verse topped all defensive ends with 31 bench press reps. Those traits should play even better when lined up opposite Montez Sweat on the defensive line.

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