2024 NFL Draft

Here's how NBC Sports' last mock draft lines up with Ryan Poles' game plan

The No. 9 pick will be a "game-time decision" but if this WR is there, it'd be hard to pass on

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We're about 48 hours away from the 2024 NFL Draft. And it's safe to say most teams either know what they plan to do with their first-round picks or have a strong sense of which way they're leaning.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles and right-hand man Ian Cunningham both met with the media on Tuesday at Halas Hall ahead of their travels to Detroit on Thursday.

With an NBC Sports mock draft filed, along with answers to questions about the draft from the front office, here's how the mock draft and the Bears align in the first round.

No. 1 pick: Caleb Williams, quarterback, USC

"The Bears make the obvious, correct pick in Williams to land their long-term answer under center. He walks into an excellent situation, taking control of an offense loaded with weapons," Connor Rogers wrote for NBC Sports.

This is a no-brainer pick and everyone and their mother knows this is the exact pick that will unfold on Thursday. But Poles didn't make mention of it on Thursday, preserving the moment for Roger Goodell to read Williams' name to the Bears on Thursday.

"I think it's one of those things that everyone has to tune in Thursday to watch," Poles said during the Bears' pre-draft press conference on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

Watch Ryan Poles' full press conference here.

There's zero competitive advantage to gain for Poles concealing the Bears' plans to draft Williams. And Poles admitted the league isn't in his ear asking them to keep it a secret.

It's his own installment. He wants to keep this moment exciting for Bears fans.

No. 9 pick: Rome Odunze, wide receiver, Washington

"Keenan Allen is 31 years old and has one year left on his contract. Getting a future WR1 in Odunze this far down the board is a steal, even if a receiver isn’t a pressing need for Chicago," Kyle Dvorchak wrote for NBC Sports.

Poles remained conservative about the No. 9 pick, contrary to his opinions on the No. 1 pick. He articulated a "wait-and-see" game plan for the No. 9 pick.

“It’s hard to answer right now,” Poles said about the No. 9 pick. “As the draft unfolds, there’s going to be some indicators that start to educate us on how we need to move to acquire the top talents in this draft.”

MORE: Bears GM Ryan Poles shares thought process behind how team will make No. 9 overall pick decision

This is a sensible answer from the Bears. Seemingly, it appears four quarterbacks will go with the first four picks in the draft, including Williams to the Bears. After that, it's uncertain how the Chargers, Giants, Titans and Falcons will draft.

One of the big three wide receivers could be there. Will they be left to draft the first defensive player of the draft? Will Joe Alt still be on the board by then?

No one can say for sure. But if Odunze is there, it makes sense for the Bears to draft him, even though they're top-heavy in their wide receiver room with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen.

Allen, 31, has just one year left on his deal and was reluctant to take a pay cut from both the Chargers and Bears (according to reports) after coming off the best season of his career. Should the Bears fail to re-sign him, Odunze provides excellent insurance at the position long-term, with incredible diversity short-term as a big-bodied deep threat.

But it's likely the Bears play the No. 9 pick based on how the first eight draft.

“The nice thing is from the work that we’ve done I feel pretty good about just being flexible,” Poles said.

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