NFL Draft

Anonymous execs dish controversial analysis of the Bears' 2024 NFL Draft: report

The Athletic got insight from anonymous NFL execs about the Bears' draft. Here's what they said

NBC Universal, Inc.

By most accounts, the Bears finished the 2024 NFL Draft with glowing optimism about their future.

They notched a franchise quarterback in Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick. And they followed that up by finding a blue-chip wide receiver in Rome Odunze to pair with him at the No. 9 pick. ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller ranked those two picks his favorites of 100 in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Bears feel strongly about their draft. But not everyone does. The Athletic gained insight from anonymous NFL executives about every team's draft. Here's what some of them said about the Bears draft.

“Chicago already (has) tackles, so to take a lineman in the top 10 who is going to start out at guard versus a receiver who is clean as a whistle, a proven playmaker at a position that has gone up into the $32 million range, I would have gone with Odunze as well,” one exec said to The Athletic.

Last season, the Bears drafted Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright to become their starting right tackle. And two drafts ago, they drafted Southern Utah's Braxton Jones in the fifth round to take over the left tackle spot. And while Jones isn't a superstar at left tackle, the Bears are comfortable with his services. The Bears also drafted Amegadjie to give themselves depth in the position.

Grabbing Odunze gives the Bears short-term promise with him, DJ Moore and Keenan Allen creating a formidable trio as the Bears wide receiver corps. But Allen, 32, has just one more year on his contract. Should he not re-sign, or get injured, Odunze gives the Bears long-term insurance at the position.

However, one exec doesn't see it that way. He/she claims they would've tried to move back in the draft and satiate a different need for the Bears.

“I would have traded back,” another exec said told The Athletic. “The idea of taking the third-best receiver, unless he was rated as their top receiver, I don’t like that when I could trade back and get the best defensive player to fill a hole at three-technique or a hole opposite Montez Sweat. They could have a harder time than you think outscoring people unless Caleb starts out really strong."

The Bears have yet to address the defensive line in an exciting way this offseason. Yes, Sweat came in during last season and instantly became the team's leader in sacks, recording six last season. He's a bona fide solution. But the Bears don't have a tantalizing edge across from him, or the three-technique tackle Matt Eberflus covets in his defense.

Poles and the front office should try and fill those holes. But, they did draft Booker to give them more prowess on one edge. He recorded eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss at Kansas last season, tacking on 56 tackles (40 solos), too.

Another exec agreed with the notion that Odunze is a reach for where the Bears' roster stands. He/she worries Williams' skillset from college doesn't match what the Bears are trying to use him for with a litany of weapons.

“If you hold the football in college, you’re not all of a sudden learning how to get rid of it on time in the pros,” an exec said to The Athletic. “They are surrounding this quarterback with weapons, thinking that he can go through progressions and distribute the football on time, and that is not his game. You traded for a veteran receiver (Keenan Allen) who is used to catching passes from Philip Rivers and Justin Herbert. He is going to be frustrated if his young quarterback does not operate on time.”

Williams was knocked oftentimes in college for holding the ball too long. But when you have shoddy receivers and a subpar offensive line, that's what you'll have to do. This exec's point is Williams' off-script playmaking ability could be a double-edged sword; good to use when it's needed, bad when your offense dictates getting the ball out quickly.

All in all, the Bears finished strong in the draft, locking in key members of next year's team. But it's a process. They're strong on paper, but their draft won't be the permanent glue to hold it all together, says another exec.

“They did a really good job, but I always laugh when people say you had an A-plus draft. It’s a process, not a quick fix.”

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us