Rome Odunze

Why Bears had Rome Odunze evaluated as ‘can't pass' player in 2024 NFL draft

Ryan Poles explained why he had the wide receiver at the top of his draft board

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There was no way the Bears were trading the No. 1 overall pick for a second year in a row in this year’s draft. They quickly identified Caleb Williams as an unbelievable talent who could help the team take the next step in their quest to win division titles and eventually Super Bowls. When the Bears got to know Williams as a person, they knew he was their pick.

There was still a question of what GM Ryan Poles would do with the No. 9 overall pick, however. Would the team use the opportunity to trade back and acquire more draft picks, since they entered the weekend with just four selections? Or would they stand pat and pick another potential franchise cornerstone?

On “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday, Poles said that the way things shook out, there was no way they were going to trade back.

“Rome was at the top of our list,” Poles said on the show. “We have our draft board separated by different colors and there’s certain guys you don’t pass up. Rome’s one of them.”

After the first round, Poles admitted he had some nerves about the team’s chances to land Odunze. When the team ran draft simulations, Odunze was only available at No. 9 about half of the time.

“As it started to unfold, Ian had to hold me back to not trade up and do something crazy to get him,” Poles said after Day One of the draft.

It’s easy to see why the team was so enamored with Odunze. He burst onto the scene in 2023 after he opted not to leave for the draft following the 2022 season. It was a great move. After being projected to be a day two pick last year, he rose all the way into the top-10 thanks to these incredible numbers. All the rankings in parentheses are among wide receivers with at least 100 targets in 2023.

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).

Equally important: Odunze was a key cog in the Washington Huskies’ run to the national title game.

“It’s hard to find a guy who’s that big, that talented at the receiver spot, and on top of that being an unbelievable human being as well. So, there was no movement off of Rome.”

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