2024 NFL Draft

New draft rumors suggest Bears leaning towards one option with No. 9 overall pick

SI's Albert Breer shared some interesting intel with the draft rapidly approaching

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We’re less than a week away from the start of the 2024 NFL draft, and rumors and reports are starting to pick up steam. It’s essentially a foregone conclusion that the Bears will select Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick this Thursday, but after that things get hazy. GM Ryan Poles has several options to consider with the No. 9 overall pick, like selecting another high-impact player or making a splash trade. On Monday, Sports Illustrated insider Albert Breer shared some of his intel on what the Bears could be considering.

“Other teams have gotten the sense that Chicago will try to move down given their dearth of picks…” Breer wrote.

As things stand the Bears only have four picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 1, 9, 75, 122) due to lots of wheeling and dealing dating back to 2022. The Bears’ second-round pick belongs to the Commanders thanks to the move that brought Montez Sweat to Chicago. The Chargers have their fourth-rounder due to the Keenan Allen trade. The Bears sent their fifth-round pick to Buffalo for versatile interior offensive lineman Ryan Bates and their sixth-round pick to Miami for fellow interior o-lineman Dan Feeney. In 2022, the Bears traded away their seventh-round pick to the Dolphins for wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

They have this year’s No. 1 pick thanks to the deal that sent last year’s No. 1 overall pick to Carolina. They also own Philadelphia’s fourth-round pick (No. 122) when they swapped picks with the Eagles during the first round of last year’s draft. The Eagles moved up one spot to snag Jalen Carter, while the Bears slid back and selected Darnell Wright.

Of course, the Bears could opt to stay put if one of their blue-chip players is available when they’re back on the clock.

“If the Bears stick, a couple of friends of GM Ryan Poles said they think he’ll be looking to add talent around Williams,” Breer wrote. “So if one of the top three receivers slide to Chicago, DJ Moore and Keenan Allen could get a running mate. If not? Maybe an offensive lineman or Texas 3-technique Byron Murphy II.”

A run on QBs at the top of the draft, or a couple tackles coming off the board early, could push a big-time wide receiver like Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers to the Bears. The Bears are already set up well for 2024 with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen in tow, but adding a rookie wide receiver would have both short term and long term benefits for the roster.

Neither Moore nor Allen are burners who can challenge defenses vertically with pure speed, and an incoming rookie could take on that role in the offense. The Bears have looked for a deep threat like that for several years with picks like Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Scott, but neither pick has panned out in a small sample size. There’s certainly still time for them to improve and fill the void, but the Bears probably want to add competition for the WR3 job. Further, if either Moore or Allen get hurt, the team would probably feel better about a top-10 player stepping in as the new No. 2 wide receiver compared to Jones Jr., Scott, Dante Pettis or Collin Johnson.

Similarly, it’s reasonable for the Bears to enter the year with Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright as their starting tackles, but it’s also easy to see how drafting another tackle would help the team now and in the future. Behind Jones and Wright, the Bears don’t have the depth required in case of injury. 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 a player like Joe Alt– whose exceptional athleticism fits what the Bears want in offensive linemen perfectly– is available can the Bears resist? Adding Alt would both help the Bears keep Williams upright and ensure the Bears have reliable options to plug into the lineup when injuries inevitably hit.

Outwardly it might seem crazy for the Bears to use a first-round pick on a defensive tackle after they spent the No. 53 and No. 64 picks to select Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens last year, but fact is the Bears need to add more pass rushers to the mix to help Montez Sweat. That can be another defensive end or a defensive tackle. Drafting Murphy probably indicates the team doesn’t believe Dexter is ready to take over for the departed Justin Jones as the team’s starting three-tech. But even if they do, the team wants multiple waves of rushers at the ready so that players can stay fresh throughout the game, so adding another DT could be in order– it just might not come in the first round.

No matter which route the Bears end up choosing, they might not know where they’re going until the picks start coming off the board for real. There are still so many scenarios that need to play out from pick Nos. 2-8 that it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen next month.

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