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2024 Chicago Mocks: Different Draft Philosophies, Part 1

It feels too early to be worried about mock drafts, but it’s Chicago. The Bears have ample resources in the 2024 draft, but whether or not they finally take a step forward might depend on what philosophy they adopt toward team building.

Penn State v Northwestern Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

This is not intended to be a conventional Mock Draft exercise. Instead, I want to try to approach these 5-round mock drafts by contrasting a pair of conventional approaches with a more “unpopular” attempt at team-building. Part 1 is going to contrast two different ways of approaching the draft that should be familiar to fans of the Chicago Bears.

The first approach applies conventional wisdom–I will prioritize getting a new quarterback and then drafting the “best player available” on the board, though I will allow myself to move between the Pro Football Network engine and Pro Football Focus’s top candidates, and I will allow myself a 2-player margin to pick the player that better suits Chicago’s needs and system. I will only trade down after I have secured a starting quarterback, and only if the top player available duplicates a position that I have already drafted. However, there is no limit on the number of times I am allowed to trade down under those conditions.

The second approach is about emotion—I will aim for players that I (or other would-be draft experts) have a “strong sense of conviction” about, to borrow a phrase that the prior administration seemed very fond of. If a player who I am personally invested in (or who has adequate hype around him) falls lower than I believe he should, I will move up to get him so long as I do not need to sacrifice future picks in any of the top three rounds to do so. This is the hype round.

Then, in Part 2, I will offer a different approach than either of these philosophies.

SCENARIO #1 (Conventional Wisdom)

#1 Caleb Williams (Quarterback), USC

Even after a rough outing against Notre Dame, Williams is still being considered by most to be the top quarterback prospect in the class (and even the top prospect overall). I declined six trade offers in order to take Williams, but if he works out not many will second-guess what might have been.

#2 Olumuyiwa Fashanu (Offensive Tackle), Penn State

Williams should certainly be happy with the next selection, because Fashanu is one of the stronger tackle prospects in the last few years. There were no trade offers and none of them would have been taken anyway. Fashanu would go first in some years, because he is that strong of a left tackle prospect. With respect to Braxton Jones, he will increase the chances of Williams having a chance to develop rather dramatically. Just to give a formal review—Fashanu plays with good balance, speed, and power. He uses his hands well. He has a good anchor and at-times a terrifying ability to convert his hand use into a thing that makes defenders look silly.

#38 Maason Smith (Defensive Tackle), LSU

At this point, I can imagine “BPA” working out, because Maason Smith is a solid defensive prospect. I declined a single trade offer, because despite the fact that the Bears invested heavily in the interior of the defensive line in 2023, Smith is a fit-for-need as well as one of the better defensive players remaining on the board overall. It’s worth noting that while he previously played as a 5T, he was supposed to move inside to 3T before tearing his ACL and missing almost all of 2022. It’s also worth noting that he feels a little bit like a “Ryan Pace special”, in that he has a lot of attributes that are desirable while also being pre-injured.

#69 Trade with Denver

A pair of defensive tackles are at the top of the board, and drafting the same position twice (back to back) seems a little much. As a result, #69 and the Miami Dolphin’s 2025 R6 are traded for #81 and Denver’s 2025 R3.

#81 Xavier Legette (Wide Receiver), South Carolina

Legette is supposedly a late-bloomer. He’s #65 on PFN’s board, and so I declined two trade offers. Of course, the reality is that he is a 5th-year player with only a single good year of production. He’s listed as a weight/height/speed anomaly, with a 6’3” frame and great straight-line speed. Oh, he’s also a kick returner! And he’s being drafted in the third round. This seems familiar somehow.

#100 Zach Frazier (Center), West Virginia

Passing on safety Calen Bullock to take Frazier is a choice that I want to make, and because Frazier is only one spot below Bullock this is still easy to justify within the “BPA” framework. Frazier is not a naturally fluid athlete like some might hope, but he’s also available after 99 players have already been selected. He’s had plenty of college experience, starting since he was a freshman. He’s an experienced wrestler, too, with multiple state titles under his belt. He can also actually snap a football, so he has that going for him.

#128 Audric Estime (RB), Notre Dame

It was tempting to reach down one spot to Jaheim Bell, but the rules were to take the “best player available” on the boards, and I could not justify the move on the basis of either board in front of me. Does Estime have break away speed? He does not. Does he have excellent field vision? Not really. However, he is an absolute bruiser who gets the better of contact and who has a sort of freight-train inevitability to him. The Bears only have one running back on contract through 2025, anyway, so it works out.

#131 Jaheim Bell (TE), Florida State

Being honest, I had not really looked at Bell until I began preparing for this project. That said, I like what I see within limits. He’s got decent “small space” mobility, and he seems willing to try to use his frame to block out defenders–something Chicago could use more of in its tight ends–but he is also not exceptionally powerful. I have not seen him establish himself as a particularly valuable asset as a blocker, but it’s possible that he can develop there. I’m not overwhelmed, but it’s also a pick outside of the hundred.

Future Draft Picks: As mentioned, Chicago now no longer has Miami’s R6 in the 2025 draft (from the Chase Claypool trade), carrying Denver’s R3 instead. This is added alongside Carolina’s R2 in 2025.

Projected 2025 pre-Draft Roster: These are the players currently under contract through at least 2025 plus the relevant 2024 draft picks (in italics), to check on what the rebuild would look like.


  • Quarterback: Caleb Williams, Tyson Bagent
  • Offensive Line: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Darnell Wright, Nate Davis, Ja’Tyre Carter, Zach Frazier; Braxton Jones, Doug Kramer
  • Wide Receiver: D.J. Moore, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones jr, Xavier Legette
  • Tight End: Cole Kmet, Jaheim Bell
  • Running Back: Roschon Johnson, Audric Estime


  • Defensive Line: DeMarcus Walker, Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, Dominique Robinson; Maason Smith
  • Linebacker: T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Noah Sewell
  • Defensive Back: Jaquan Brisker, Quindell Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson, Elijah Hicks, Terrell Smith


  • Trenton Gill

Commentary: In this scenario, free agency and the 2025 draft almost by necessity has to be about the pass rush. There is also, however, a notable weakening of the wide receiver position as the existing receivers move out of their contracts, but presumably Mooney could be retained or a placeholder could be found in free agency. The good news would seem to be that the offensive line is looking stronger at last and there’s enough talent at the skill positions to make it possible for a sophomore quarterback to succeed. I worry that Williams will have time to throw but will easily stymied by teams that take away Moore, and I fear that the defense will not get off the field.

SCENARIO #2 (Conviction)

#1 Marvin Harrison, jr (Wide Receiver), Ohio State University

I’m just going to assume that if you are reading a draft article, you already know who this is. That said, taking any of the six trade offers when I could instead get the best wide receiver and offensive playmaker in the draft seems ridiculous. Harrison is going to make any quarterback’s job easier, and so I’m not worried about whether or not this move kicks the can down the road regarding who is going to throw the ball in the windy city.

#2: Olumuyiwa Fashanu (Offensive Tackle), Penn State

Everything that I said about him earlier remains true, and under this scenario he ends up being even more essential because the quality of quarterbacking is going to be a little shakier.

#34 Laiatu Latu (Edge Rusher), UCLA

Latu was falling, and there was no way I could let Pro Football Focus’s second-highest EDGE rusher get away from me when he was in reach. The Panthers declined my offer to move into #33, but the Saints let me up to their spot at the meager cost of #128. Victory!

Latu is himself an outside linebacker and former tight end, but he is also an absolute beast with a toolkit that borders on NFL-ready and a nice combination of speed and power. Is he a perfect fit for a team that runs a 4-3 system? The coaches can figure that out! More seriously, though, a system that can’t use Latu probably isn’t a very good system.

#69 Shedeur Sanders (Quarterback), Colorado

It’s not even clear at this point that Sanders will commit to the 2024 draft, but if he does, there’s no doubt there will be a number of people convinced that he has what it takes. There is no shortage of conviction and hype around this young man. He is still ranked in Pro Football Focus’s Top 50 prospects. However, despite decent pocket presence and at least some ability to read the field, he lacks top-end arm talent and has struggled against top college defenses. Still, he already has his own merchandise line!

#100 Luke Lachey (Tight End), Iowa.

I declined two trades, because when the chance comes you need to draft the tight end from Iowa! Despite an ankle injury that cost him the ability to make a stronger case for himself, Lachey has everything you’d want in the position. He has a large frame that he can use in traffic and as a blocker. He has an awareness of field position and responsibilities in the game. He’s capable in a variety of looks. Assuming he heals up, this could be a steal.

#131 Bryce Foster (Center), Texas A&M

I declined one trade in order to stay in position to draft the best center left on the board. Bryce Foster had a knee injury that might or might not be fully healed, but he is a solid run-blocker. I haven’t seen much game play that suggests he pass blocks especially well, but he can snap a ball and he can run block. To me, those are at least marginal improvements over what Chicago has already been dealing with.

Future Draft Picks: No extra picks were gained or spent, so Chicago still has Carolina’s R2 in 2025 in addition to the 2025 R6 pick from the Miami Dolphins for Chase Claypool.

Projected 2025 Roster: These are the players currently under contract through at least 2025 plus the relevant draft picks (in italics), to check on what the rebuild would look like.


  • Quarterback: Shedeur Sanders, Tyson Bagent
  • Offensive Line: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Darnell Wright, Nate Davis, Ja’Tyre Carter, Bryce Foster; Braxton Jones, Doug Kramer
  • Wide Receiver: Marvin Harrison jr, D.J. Moore, Tyler Scott, Velus Jones jr
  • Tight End: Cole Kmet, Luke Lachey
  • Running Back: Roschon Johnson


  • Defensive Line: DeMarcus Walker, Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, Laiatu Latu, Dominique Robinson
  • Linebacker: T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Noah Sewell
  • Defensive Back: Jaquan Brisker, Quindell Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson, Elijah Hicks, Terrell Smith


  • Trenton Gill

Commentary: In this scenario, even if Sanders isn’t the guy (or really any later-round quarterback), the offense has been improved at every other level. There is a need to find a free agent veteran quarterback, but that’s really it. The defense would still need at least one free agent added on the defensive line, and it probably would need to be a focus for the 2025 draft. The team might not be winning playoff games, but there’s actually a decent core to build around. I’m not saying that I like this team, exactly, but I can understand the appeal of drafting based on hope. In many ways, this looks like a more complete team that the previous one.

Maybe it’s the state of the season, but both of these answers feel unsatisfying to me. The question to me is whether or not I can do any better.