Their trade with the Panthers out of the No. 1 pick looks like a fleece so far, as Carolina is currently the only winless team left in the NFL, and the other two biggest acquisitions from the deal — DJ Moore and 2023 first-round pick Darnell Wright — are working out quite well for the Bears. It’s a good thing that trade paid off, then, because Chicago is currently not too far behind that worst spot at 1-5.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the Bears so far, who have yet to find consistency on either side of the ball. Perhaps most alarming is the fact that quarterback Justin Fields has yet to establish himself as a long-term starter here in Year 3. We as Bears fans all have the draft to look forward to, however, and being adopted into a fanbase of consistent bad plays has found me scouting 2024 draft prospects even before the 2023 NFL Draft concluded.
I’m running this mock draft under the assumption that the center position will be addressed in free agency, as well as one of the starting edge rusher spots. You’re going to fix some positions before the draft, and I can’t fix everything in just one go.
With that said, here’s a 7-round mock draft for the Bears if they held pick Nos. 1 and 2 in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Note: I used NFL Mock Draft Database’s mock draft simulator to keep track of the other teams’ picks around me.
Falcons receive: QB Justin Fields
Bears receive: 2024 second-round pick (No. 42), 2025 third-round pick
In a scenario which sees the Bears finish with a bottom-two record for the second year in a row, I’m moving on from Justin Fields.
It’s a shame it had to come to this, but changes have to be made. I used PFF to determine Fields’ trade value, and luckily for him, he ends up close to home in Georgia with a strong Falcons offensive line and weapons like Drake London, Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts. Plus, the Bears get two Day 2 selections out of the deal, which is a great haul. This trade would be beneficial for both sides.
Patriots receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 2)
Bears receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 6), 2024 second-round pick (No. 37), 2025 first-round pick
The demand for the second pick will be high, since whoever ends up with it will have the chance to select North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.
Like the Bears, the Patriots have become disenfranchised with their 2021 first-round pick at quarterback, and it’s become clear Mac Jones, while serviceable, isn’t a franchise guy. Bill Belichick makes the bold move to trade up for a quarterback with perennial Pro Bowl upside, giving Chicago a nice haul so they can jump the Broncos at No. 3.
Round 1 (via Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Yes, I’d still take Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick.
I have yet to find All-22 tape of his game against Notre Dame, though I watched his snaps from the broadcast angle. It showcases glaring issues with his decision-making and a reliance on his playmaker style, rather than knowing when to take the sack or throw the ball away. He still has some work to do in that regard. However, don’t get it twisted: Williams is still a fantastic prospect with elite arm talent, tremendous natural accuracy and great athleticism.
You’ll see many compare Williams to Justin Fields as a prospect, so I’ll do it early before you hear the same repetitive narrative for the next few months. Both have issues with consistently sensing pressure in and around the pocket, and both are prone to questionable throws. That said, Williams makes the right reads against zone coverage more often than Fields did/does, and he has the superior arm talent. They’re around the same in terms of accuracy coming out, though Fields’ accuracy being inconsistent shows that can change when translating to the next level. Fields is the superior athlete and has better play strength, but Williams is far from a bad athlete at quarterback, too.
Williams is not the generational prospect some have touted him to be. He’s still a work in progress, and the extent of the hype he’s received has seen some Bears fans sour on him when he doesn’t look perfect. That said, when you look back at each draft over the last decade, I’d take Williams as QB1 in all but two classes: 2020 with Joe Burrow, and 2021 with Trevor Lawrence. That still makes him a special talent worth taking a shot on. You’ll have to give him resources to work with, but his ceiling is a top-5 quarterback in the NFL.
Round 1 (via Patriots, projected trade): Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State
The Patriots took Drake Maye at No. 2, with the Broncos going Quinn Ewers at No. 3 and Marvin Harrison Jr. landing with the Cardinals at No. 4. Unwilling to give up on Evan Neal at right tackle just yet, the Giants took Dallas Turner at No. 5. This leaves Chicago without MHJ at the sixth pick, but they have a stellar consolation prize in mind.
Fashanu likely would’ve been OT1 had he declared for the 2023 draft, but he went back to Penn State and has looked even better this year. He has everything you could hope for physically in an offensive tackle. He’s an elite athlete with great acceleration to the second level and impressive lateral quickness, and he’s a coordinated blocker on the move. He possesses great raw power in his anchor with good hand strength and jab placement, and he has done a better job of maintaining good pad level this year.
Braxton Jones is a solid starter, and I believe he deserves some starting role in Chicago’s offensive line, But there aren’t too many acceptable reasons to pass up on a blue-chip left tackle with All-Pro potential.
Round 2: Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington
After going offense in Round 1 both times, it’s time to work back on the defensive trenches.
Trice is a fringe first-rounder for me at the moment, and if he’s there for the Bears with the second pick in Round 2 like he was in my simulator, you take him. He’s a well-built edge rusher who packs a punch at the line of scrimmage, and he has a deep arsenal of hand techniques he uses to shed blocks and make big plays. His motor runs hot on a consistent basis, and his ability to set the edge is impressive. Trice won’t wow you as a 4.5 40-yard dash type of athlete off the edge, but his short-area burst isn’t bad at all.
Imagine him rushing off the edge with whichever one of Chase Young or Montez Sweat doesn’t get extended by the Commanders. Yowie wowie!
Round 2 (via Patriots, projected trade): Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami (FL)
It’s sad to admit, but the Eddie Jackson era might be coming to an end in Chicago. Injuries have affected his availability in recent years, and he hasn’t exactly lit it up this year when he’s played. Given the Bears save $12.56 million in 2024 by releasing him this offseason — $14.15 million if you’re willing to go for a post-June 1 cut and tack on an extra $1.5 million to your books in 2025 — it might be time to cut costs.
Kinchens is my top-rated safety in the 2024 draft and is on the fringe of a first-round grade for me, so taking him in the early second round makes sense here. He’s a premier coverage safety with top-notch range, fluidity and overall athleticism, and he’s one of the best in the nation at jumping routes and squaring up to the ball in the air. He had 6 interceptions in 2022 and, though he’s only played in 4 of Miami’s 6 games so far in 2023, has an interception and 3 pass breakups this year. Kinchens won’t wow you as a tackler but has that ball-hawking ability to project well alongside Jaquan Brisker in Chicago’s secondary.
Round 2 (via Falcons, projected trade): Michael Hall Jr., DL, Ohio State
Hall has a pass-rush pressure rate of 12.4% this year, and out of the top 15 defensive tackles on my board, only Miami’s Leonard Taylor — a projected first-round pick — has a higher percentage. He has fantastic quickness off the ball with good grip strength, ideal leverage at the point of attack, and the finesse to threaten as a three-down defender.
Let’s say the Bears extend Andrew Billings this offseason. You could potentially run a four-deep rotation with him, Hall, Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens. Should one of the rookies not pan out — which seems more likely to be Pickens in a super early observation — Hall is great insurance. If Pickens does take that next step, though, you could have a scary good group along the interior.
Round 3: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
I’m going to hope I don’t jinx him, but as of this writing, Legette has been targeted 44 times in 2023 and hasn’t dropped a single target. He’s a bit of a late bloomer but has burst onto the scene in a major way this year with 716 receiving yards through 6 games. He’s a thick receiver listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds who wins easily above the rim with a large catch radius and powerful frame. Legette is also a great straight-line athlete who, though raw as a route runner, offers that size-speed combination teams drool over. Think of him as who the Bears wanted Chase Claypool to be.
Round 4: Andrew Raym, C/OG, Oklahoma
Raym stars as a center at Oklahoma, but he’s also played guard in college and was a tackle in high school. Regardless, I like him a lot here as interior offensive line depth for the Bears. He’s an athletic blocker with very good agility on the move and nice quickness off the snap as a run blocker. His pad level and body control are encouraging, and he does a good job of finding work as a pass protector. Though he’s not the most powerful or nastiest blocker in the world, he’s a capable interior lineman who could develop into a starter in due time. There’s no such thing as too many good offensive linemen.
Round 4 (via Eagles): Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia
Ladd McConkey is the skinny white slot receiver certain fans will fall in love with if they haven’t already. He’s still new to the 2023 season — he missed the first four games with a back injury — but he’s played a big role in Georgia’s offense, having scored 12 touchdowns with 1,316 total receiving yards in his previous two seasons. He’s a shifty athlete with very good deep speed and even better agility, using his lateral quickness to make plays after the catch consistently. He won’t wow you in terms of size or physicality, but as a twitchy slot weapon, he’s a good investment for the Bears late in Round 4.
Round 5: Garret Greenfield, OT, South Dakota State
A criminally underrated prospect in the 2024 draft, Greenfield is an athletic offensive lineman with very good footwork in his kickslide, great body control blocking on the move and impressive quickness off the line of scrimmage. He’s a quality pass protector who, though he could stand to add some bulk to his frame, has the length to translate to the NFL. He has starting experience at both tackle spots, which makes him a player worth taking a shot on as a potential swing tackle.