2024 NFL Draft

Pass rusher with the No. 9 pick? Contrasting reports set the stage for the Bears' pick

A caveat from the Montez Sweat trade helps paint the picture of what the Bears do at No. 9 pick

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While discussing the prospects of the 2024 NFL Draft on Tuesday, Bears general manager Ryan Poles said their answer for the No. 9 pick in the draft will be a game-time decision.

“It’s hard to answer right now,” Poles said of 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.”

This is a sensible strategy for the Bears. Most reports would indicate four quarterbacks will go with the first four picks in the draft. But after that, it's unpredictable; no one knows precisely what the Chargers, Giants, Titans and Falcons are thinking before the Bears' No. 9 pick.

But recent reports suggest the Chicago Bears are leaning toward wide receiver or pass rusher.

"Sources around the league seem to believe the Chicago Bears will go one of two ways with the No. 9 pick: pass rusher or wide receiver," CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones wrote on Tuesday.

Here's what The Athletic's draft expert Dane Brugler said about the No. 9 pick, too.

One thing Jones wrote in his report catches the eye, however. He writes the Bears were previously disinclined by the pass-rushing talent in the draft, and that's why they traded for Montez Sweat at the previous NFL trade deadline.

"Other sources have pointed out the Bears could use the pick [No. 9] on a pass rusher to take some pressure off Montez Sweat. It's a good idea, and it makes roster-composition sense. But the Bears sent a second-round pick to Washington for Sweat (and then paid him) because they didn't anticipate strong options in free agency or the draft this year. And like so many teams in this draft, a trade-down is always possible," Jones wrote.

The Bears didn't pounce for an edge rusher in free agency. They could've taken their licks on blue-chip pass-rushers like Jonathan Greenard or Danielle Hunter. But they didn't.

And while it's not an underwhelming defensive end draft, it's not top-heavy. Some believe the best value lies towards the bottom of the first round with UCLA's Laiatu Latu, Florida State's Jared Verse and Penn State's Chop Robinson.

The top three receivers --- Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze --- all seemingly outweigh the potential of the best edge rushers i.e. Alabama's Dallas Turner and Texas' Byron Murphy.

From these reports, you can glean the Bears' focus lies on one of the top three receivers if available. If all three receivers are unavailable, the likelihood of a trade-down scenario seemingly appears stronger for an edge rusher later in the first round.

Stay tuned, as the Bears first must see how the first eight teams draft before theirs. However it unfolds, Poles is confident in how the front office will address that pick.

“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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