So the impossible has happened (actually it was quite possible if you objectively looked at the roster in August) and the Chicago Bears have the number one pick in the draft! We know that pick has traditionally been a quarterback, and that would likely point to Bryce Young, the Alabama QB, with the top selection.
The Bears are in a unique situation where, by all appearances, they have their QB of the future in Justin Fields, yet they sit with the first pick which gives them a lot of flexibility and options that they can utilize in the draft.
The Bears’ season may barely be over, but it’s never too early to take a look at some potential options for the Chicago Bears with the first overall pick.
Two Stand-Pat Options
Option 1: Draft Will Anderson
While the top pick is usually reserved for a quarterback, if the Bears decide to keep the first overall selection, they could just select Alabama’s Will Anderson. The last three players to go first overall that have not been quarterbacks, have all been edge players. Edge is arguably the second most important position on the field below QB, and if you get the right one, he can be a franchise changer. Anderson is an explosive edge that can be the type of impact player that would put All-Pro performances on tape on the regular.
There’s a lot of conversation that Georgia’s defensive tackle Jalen Carter might be a better fit for Matt Eberflus’ defense and I think Bears’ fans should be elated if Carter ends up in Chicago, but if you are taking a non-QB at one overall, it has to be Anderson.
Option 2: Draft Bryce Young, Trade Justin Fields (wildly unpopular option)
It’s an option, so let’s discuss it even though those of you reading this article are probably scrolling past this option before even reading the opening sentence.
Should the Bears do this? No, of course not.
But perhaps Ryan Poles looks at Bryce Young’s tape and falls in love with it and thinks he’s going to be twice the quarterback that Justin Fields is. He’d be wrong in his assessment, but he could come to that conclusion.
If he does, he takes Bryce Young at first overall, obviously, the move would be to trade Justin Fields. What could they get for Fields at this point? He’s already lost two years on his rookie contract and as dynamic as he is and as much as we all love him, other teams may look at the subpar passing numbers and use that against the Bears who won’t have much leverage if the league catches wind that they are drafting Young.
I think in this case, the ceiling on a Fields trade is probably two second round picks.
Three Trade-Down Options
Option Three: The double trade down
This one would be the most fun. The Houston Texans now sit with the second pick, and it certainly would appear that they need to go get themselves a franchise quarterback. If they love Young and want to go up and get him, it puts them in an interesting spot. In theory, trading their 2nd round pick should be enough for a team to move from 2 to 1, but the Texans are going to know that there are other QB-needy teams that will want that number one pick, so that probably won’t be enough to move up that one spot. The Texans may have to send their 2024 first round pick for Chicago to agree to drop down one spot.
Let’s say the Bears are now sitting at two and another QB hungry team calls the Bears looking to trade into that second spot for CJ Stroud or Will Levis. The Bears could come to an agreement with say, the Indianapolis Colts, to drop down to number four, the Colts would still pony up their 2024 first round pick and would probably have to add something else. They don’t have their third round pick, so adding their 2023 second round pick may be too much of an overpay, so perhaps the Bears send back their fourth round pick to soften the blow. Dropping to four overall with two QBs off the board would still guarantee them either Carter or Anderson when they select.
In this scenario it would look something like this:
Chicago Bears send 1 overall, 102 overall
Chicago Bears receive 4 overall, 35 overall, 2024 first round pick Houston, 2024 first round pick Indianapolis
Option Four: The top-ten trade down
Obviously, there are teams outside the top five that still need help at the quarterback position. Las Vegas, Atlanta and Carolina all sit at 7, 8 and 9 and all appear to have a need at QB. If the Bears were to make a trade with one of these teams, obviously they still get a top 10 talent, but they lose the opportunity to pick Anderson or Carter who almost certainly will both go in the top five. Atlanta may want to commit to Desmond Ridder, but there’s no guarantee they want to run it back with him. If Carolina wants to go up to number one and grab Bryce Young, it won’t come cheap, and it would be ironic being they passed on Justin Fields for Jaycee Horn when they had an opportunity to draft him.
The Panthers actually have two second round picks. The conversation starts there, but giving up 9 and both those picks still won’t be enough. Carolina is going to have to also pony up their 2024 first round pick as well. But the steep price doesn’t end there, they will have to pay the Bears can’t pick Carter or Anderson penalty and pony up a 2024 mid-round pick as well.
In this scenario:
Chicago Bears send 1 overall to Carolina
Chicago Bears receive 9, 40, Carolina’s other second round pick (via San Francisco, slot not set yet), Carolina’s 2024 first round and 2024 third round
The Bears could still get an impact player at 9, potentially an edge like Tyree Wilson from Texas Tech or Myles Murphy from Clemson or a tackle like Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski or Paris Johnson from Ohio State.
Option Five: The massive trade down
The last possibility would be a massive haul for the Chicago Bears. There are QB needy teams that fall out of the top 10, but for the Bears to accept a trade that far down, this team better bring the thunder with their offer.
Let’s look at the Washington Commanders. They went 8-8-1 and sit with the 16th pick in the draft. They have a few weapons on offense, they have a solid defense, especially up front, but they’ve failed at the QB position with Carson Wentz, Taylor Heinicke and Sam Howell. Would the Commanders finally try to make a big commitment at the quarterback position and trade up for Bryce Young? The price tag would be astronomical.
So before we even get into future picks, Washington would need to pony up their pick at 16 (obviously), their second round pick and their third round pick this year (a compensatory pick). But the Bears would need significant future picks as well. The 2024 first round pick is a no brainer here. But how much else do they need to offer? They would also need to add their 2025 first round pick, and they’d probably also need to add a 2024 pick, perhaps a third rounder. That may not even be enough, but that at least is going to have Ryan Poles considering the offer. At that point, the Bears could potentially turn their attention to wide receiver at 16. Would Quentin Johnston still be available? Probably not, but Jaxon Smith-Njigba almost certainly would be.
In this scenario:
Chicago Bears send number one overall
Chicago Bears receive number 16, 47, a late 2023 3rd rounder (selection not determined yet), a 2024 first round pick, a 2024 3rd round pick and a 2025 first round pick.
This is going to be a wild ride for Chicago Bears fans over the next few months. There will be plenty of trade scenarios to chew on and here’s a few as we are just ending the regular season to take a look at as we move forward into the 2023 offseason.