For weeks now, there has been speculation that, assuming the Bears have two of the top five Draft Picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, they should select wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. from Ohio State. On paper, it looks like a great idea, as Harrison is one of the best wide receivers to enter the NFL in years, but is it a wise decision for the Chicago Bears?
As I write this, it's November 18, and there are still eight weeks left in the NFL season. As we have learned, anything can happen in those eight weeks. While the Bears may look like they will have two of the top five selections in the Draft, we won't know for sure until early January when the 2024 NFL season actually ends.
Over the next seven games, the primary purpose of the Bears front office is going to be whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option or extend Justin Fields. That decision will have a significant effect on who they actually select. But it's a given that if the Bears choose to walk away from Fields, they will draft a quarterback with their highest first-round pick.
Assuming that the Bears select a quarterback with that first high first-rounder, should Harrison be the other high pick?
My experience says no.
The last time a wide receiver was taken in the top four of the Draft was in 2014. The Buffalo Bills traded up to the fourth slot to make that selection by giving up a mortgage of picks, and the trade eventually cost General Manager Doug Whaley his job.
Why do I say that? Most successful team builders build a successful NFL franchise from the inside – out. In other words, build up the defensive and offensive lines and get a quarterback before you start thinking about the wide receiver position.
In the minds of many NFL Decision makers, adding to the wide receiver group is the last piece of the puzzle, not one of the first. In 2021, Cincinnati selected Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth overall pick, thinking he would be the guy to put them over the top. Miami did the same thing with the following pick that draft by selecting Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Philly added a WR with the 10th pick in DaVonta Smith,
What's ironic is that in two of these three situations, the wide receiver picked high is not the team's number one receiver. With Philly, it/s A.J. Brown, who they acquired in a trade and who happened to be a second-round pick when he came out. The go-to receiver in Miami is Tyreek Hill, originally a fifth-round pick. Let's face it: the League is loaded with top wide receivers who were not first-round picks.
Last spring, when Ryan Poles traded down for the first pick in the 2023 Draft, part of what he received in return was wide receiver DJ Moore, who is a legitimate number-one receiver in the League. The Bears have a very competent number-two receiver in Darnel Mooney. What they don't have is the big X receiver that is needed to complement Moore and Mooney.
The 2024 Draft is loaded with big wide receivers who fit the skill set required for the Bears offense, and several of those players will be available later in the Draft. What I think will happen is if, in fact, the Bears choose to select a quarterback with the top selection, they will trade down with the second first-round pick in order to get at least the second-round pick back that they gave up in the Montez Sweat trade.
If the Bears choose to stay with Justin Fields, which is very possible, then the thought process could well be to trade that pick to a Quarterback needy team and pick up a bundle of draft picks and/or players just like Poles did last year.
The Bears have not finished their rebuild along the offensive and defensive lines. The premier position that Ryan Poles has not drafted high is defensive end/edge. Yes, he signed Yannick Ngakoue, but Yannick is coming out of contract, and the Bears have to make a decision as to re-sign him. If they choose not to, you can bet that a high selection will be used on an Edge player.
If the Bears decide to stay with Fields, they could very well stay put and use one of those high picks on Harrison (it would have to be the first) and get an edge with the later first-round pick. A General Manager trading out of a very high first-round pick is usually considered good business, especially if the team is in rebuilding mold like the Bears are. This Bears team still needs several more good players, not one wide receiver in order to become a contender.