USC’s performance against Louisville in the Holiday Bowl did little to suggest that Caleb Williams was the engine that drove the machine of Lincoln Riley’s offense. While many people will be happy to tell you why Caleb Williams should still be the #1 overall pick, this mock draft goes another direction. The rules were simple, in that I only allowed myself two trades and only one in the first round; I had to take trades that seemed at least plausible to me. Other than that, my only goal was to set up the Chicago Bears for success as if my own employment depended on the results, all while overreacting to the Holiday Bowl.
Trade #1 to New England for #4, 35, 68, 2025 R1, 2025 R2
This move allows me to have my pick of a number or players, and so I end up settling on a slightly risky strategy that I think has a high potential for success. However, even if it does not work out, this trade gives Chicago all of the ammunition it will need in 2025 (a pair of first-rounders and a pair of second-rounders). The first three picks are perfectly predictable in terms of their names, if not in terms of the order. New England takes Caleb Williams, Arizona takes Drake Maye, and Washington takes Marvin Harrison, jr.
#4 Malik Nabers (WR, LSU)
At least in the mocks, he has steadily been going before my other target, and so I take a wide receiver in the Top 5 without addressing the quarterback position. Nabers is explosive, with the ability to track the ball and with adequate ability in routes. Most importantly, he’s a true deep-ball threat, and he should slot well into the Getsy “system,” assuming that’s what Chicago continues to use in 2024. No matter what happens at quarterback, Nabers projects as an improvement to a Chicago offense that has seldom seen multiple high-end receiving threats. However, this decision works best if the board falls my way with the Bears’ next pick.
#8 Jayden Daniels (QB, LSU)
Targeting Daniels is part of what helped me decide how to break on the wide receiver decision. I don’t know if it will truly “help” given the history between these two players, but it certainly can’t hurt. More importantly, while I am still very early in my process of looking at college players, Jayden Daniels has more “NFL-ready” moments marked on my tally sheet so far than any of the other quarterbacks who are coming out, and while I am worried about his transition to the pros, I have no problem with him sitting for a half a season or even a full season while he gets ready.
Trade #35 + #136 to New Orleans for #45 + 2025 R2
The math says this trade favors me, and any second-rounder is a bonus at the moment. More importantly, I like how this draft is setting up next year for success no matter what happens. This will be the third “extra” second-round pick Chicago will have in 2025.
#45 Sedrick Van Pran (C, Georgia)
I was originally going to take T.J. Tuimoloau here and then go after Frazier or Powers-Johnson, but I was delighted that Van Pran fell. The best center in the draft, and one who should slot in pretty well for Chicago after a small acclimation period.
#68 Malachi Corley (WR, Western Kentucky)
Corley should be another potential YAC machine for the Bears, so long as he can have his quarterback throw to him with a little bit of anticipation. I was tempted to add safety Calen Bullock instead, and he went at #69. However, I feel strongly that Chicago needs to invest in the receiver position.
#72 Chris Braswell (ED, Alabama)
When Bralen Trice went at #61, the edge defenders who I felt “good” about were depleted. Truthfully, this does not look like a strong edge class to me. Here, I’m mostly drafting Braswell’s motor and his violent initial jolt while hoping that he can make the transition to the NFL. I see him as a guy who rotates in, mostly in run defense, but he could keep the starters fresh without a major letdown in play.
#105 Jaden Hicks (S, Washington State)
Hicks hits hard and has a way of playing to the ball. He seeks contact and is not afraid of finishing the tackle. I have some concerns about his coverage ability, but other people who have watched more of his games say that he’s solid on that front, too. I think the worst case is that he’s a midfield thumper.
#125 Luke Lachey (TE, Iowa)
When in doubt, draft the tight end from Iowa. I do not think that Lachey is going to be Clark, Kittle, Hockenson, or LaPorta. I do think he’s going to be a solid addition to a team that has only one clear tight end heading into the future.