In the last exercise, I went through two “conventional” approaches to team-building. For this scenario, I am consulting my ongoing draft research project. That research found that there was a greater urgency in drafting players all across the defensive line and at offensive tackle and quarterback if the hope was to find impact-level players. Meanwhile, defensive backs and interior offensive linemen were at roughly a dead heat. However, when adjusted for the need to simply find starters adjusted by the number of starters needed by position, the greatest urgency belonged to wide receivers and edge rushers, followed by most offensive line positions and quarterback.
Thus, because impact players are typically only found in the first 34 picks, I am going to try to maximize the number of selections available to me in that range, and I am going to target the positions where impact players are at the greatest premium with those picks. Then I will shift to the falloff ratio for positions after that. Instead of using another database, I will rely on my own player evaluations. This means that I will typically be favoring SEC, ACC, and B1G Ten players–I haven’t had a chance to finish reviewing as many players as I would like, but I have the strongest impression of players from those conferences.
Trade: #1 to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for #4, #13, #35, #66, and 2025 R1
This trade is the basis of this philosophy, essentially trying to maximize the number of picks available in the first 34 spots (admittedly missing by one) while also retaining high enough picks to still find difference-makers.
#2: Marvin Harrison, jr (Wide Receiver) Ohio State
Going with Harrison here risks missing out on my personal favorite prospect in the draft, Fashanu, but the falloff ratio tells me that while it is possible to find impact-level wide receivers later in the draft, the number available compared to the number needed by rosters does not favor those who wait.
#4: Olumuyiwa Fashanu (Offensive Tackle), Penn State
Fashanu is still available, but there are two teams that want to come up and are offering what seems like minimal compensation (a pick in the teens and second-rounder, either way). I feel like I am playing with house money, though, getting my favorite two offensive prospects (at two of the five premium positions) and still having a Top 20 pick to play with.
#13 Jer’Zhan Newton (Defensive Tackle), Illinois
Having heavily invested in the offense, I knew that I would need to pivot to defense with this pick. This is especially true since I knew that the tipping point for finding impact-level defensive players is certainly around #34 at the latest. However, I never thought that I would get this lucky. Jared Verse and Dallas Turner were gone by this point, but who cares?
Newton is a little undersized, with the corresponding drawbacks. He’s not as long and not as strong as might be desired in a prototypical 3T, but his hands and motor are ferocious. I am not sure if he is as fast as he looks at times or if it’s technique and anticipation that make him seem that fast, but either way I am delighted that he fell to Chicago here. This is three of the five most urgent positions dropped with players who are arguably the best prospects at their position in the whole draft.
#35 Michael Penix (Quarterback), Washington
If I didn’t have a spare second-rounder, I do not know that I would spend one on a quarterback as speculative as Penix. For that matter, after I have finished looking at all of the various quarterback prospects available here, I might make a different decision (Nix and Sanders are still on the board, and while Riley Leonard has done nothing to convince me he should be the guy, he has adherents).
Penix is a frustratingly incomplete prospect. He is far more of a “game manager” than a dynamic playmaker, but I like decision-making (most of the time) and the ability to make contested throws. He lacks an elite arm or notable athletic traits, but I think that even if he does not have what it takes to be a star, he could easily have a solid career as either a backup or as an offensive facilitator if he’s just given a good enough line and enough weapons to work with.
Given all of that, it was difficult to pass on Bralen Trice (who was still on the board).
#38 Sedrick Van Pran (Center), Georgia
Van Pran is probably not as capable of an overall athlete as other centers who have been drafted highly. Thus, it is actually tempting to go with one of the quarterbacks left on the board at this point (Bo Nix and Shedeur Sanders would be the top two available, as Penix went at #36). However, Van Pran has ample reps at center, a solid football IQ, and enough power and speed to develop into an improvement over almost anything the Chicago Bears have fielded at the position recently. If Trice had not been taken one spot earlier, he would have been the move here, though.
#66 JT Tuimoloau (Edge Defender), Ohio State University
I personally think that some overrate Tuimoloau by listing him alongside Verse, Turner, and even Trice. That said, I love the energy that he brings to his play. Kinetic energy. He plays with far more fluidity than someone his size should display so easily, and he has an absolute willingness to use his size. He seems raw, to me, at times. I am not always convinced that he has a plan besides “be a force of nature and see what happens,” but it is undeniably working for him and he has the raw talent to develop into something special.
#69 Jack Sawyer (Edge Defender), Ohio State University
This is not me trying to get clever. The fall off after the third round for edge defenders is brutal, and Sawyer is in fact the last Edge on the board that I would feel comfortable taking this high. It just so happens that I end up selecting Tuimoloau’s teammate only a few picks later. Sawyer is not as strong of a prospect as Tuimoloau, and he has been moved around a little, position-wise. He is relentless and quick enough, but I don’t know if I would call him a true “pass rusher” so much as a player who can round out a defensive line and occasionally rush the passer. I like his agility, but I think he needs to generate more disruption.
#100 Jayden Daniels (Quarterback), Mississippi State
This feels like a “cute” move having already taken Penix, but Daniels has adequate poise and decent athleticism. He avoids putting the football at risk unnecessarily. His throwing motion is compact. I do not think he has amazing power or exceptional decision-making. As much as anything, this is an insurance pick. I think Daniels has a 1:10 chance of turning into a backup quarterback, but I feel like that potential is worth more right now than stronger prospects at other positions.
#128 Luke Lachey (Tight End), Iowa
As I have said many times, the tight end from Iowa is usually a decent use of a prospecting pick. I do want to highlight the unknown recovery from injury, but Lachey has everything that might be asked of a TE2 with the hopes of developing into a TE1. Tight end is a de-emphasized position, and so this is about the right place to take a chance on one.
#131 Kamari Lassiter (Corner), Georgia
I do not like how inconsistent Lassiter can be, but I do like watching him mix it up physically, and I think he’s one of the better tacklers at corner that I have seen recently. He is certainly worth an exploratory pick this late in the draft, and he could very easily turn out to be a solid rotational piece with his experience and ability to play aggressively. This is purely a move based on the idea that later-round cornerbacks do sometimes hit, and Lassiter is my favorite of those still available.
Future Draft Picks: Chicago now now has the Arizona Cardinals’ 2025 R1, the Carolina Panthers’ 2025 R2, and Miami’s 2025 R6.
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: Michael Penix jr, Jayden Daniels, Tyson Bagent
- Offensive Line: Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Darnell Wright, Nate Davis, Ja’Tyre Carter, Sedrick Van Pran; 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: Jer’Zhan Newton, DeMarcus Walker, Gervon Dexter, Zacch Pickens, Jack Sawyer, JT Tuimoloau, Dominique Robinson
- Linebacker: T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Noah Sewell
- Defensive Back: Jaquan Brisker, Quindell Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson, Elijah Hicks, Terrell Smith, Kamari Lassiter
- Trenton Gill
Commentary: Although I am admittedly biased, as this is “my” approach to the draft, this feels like a far more complete football team to me than the ones put together under the prior two scenarios. Chicago might not have a top-end prospect at quarterback, but the entire team has been improved on almost every level of offense and defense, there are two chances at getting the quarterback right, and the team is in an ideal position in the 2025 draft to address any lingering needs.