Friday was a lot of fun. There was a buzz all afternoon that the Chicago Bears might be striking a deal for the number one pick, and that it could happen soon. When the deal happened, the conversations exploded. But now that the Bears are no longer sitting atop the NFL Draft. Let’s see how things could play out and what players could be available for Chicago when their name is “on the clock.”
1. Carolina Panthers- CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
There has been steady buzz since the combine that Bryce Young is the top QB in this draft, but there’s also been some buzz that CJ Stroud is the Panthers top choice. So much so, that after the Panthers made the trade to move up to one, CJ Stroud became the favorite in betting circles to become the top pick.
It’s funny how much the Panthers gave up to move up to number one when just a couple of drafts ago, they could have taken Justin Fields without giving up any additional capital at all, but they passed. Now they go for a different Ohio State quarterback in hopes of finding their best QB since Cam Newton.
2. Houston Texans- Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
The Texans have been sweating since Lovie Smith won in week 18 and dropped the Texans from 1 to 2, but they breathe a huge sigh of relief here. The Texans wanted Bryce Young all along, and they couldn’t secure a trade to move up to number one to protect themselves from losing him, but now they are able to draft the player they covet without having to give up any additional capital.
Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik will be able to use Young’s unique skills to potentially create an excellent offense, but the worries about Young’s size are real. He is going to have to make sure he’s protected, and that’s not something the Texans historically do well.
3. Las Vegas Raiders- Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
The Raiders decided that they were going to move on from Derek Carr last year, and things haven’t quite worked out like many thought. They thought that perhaps Tom Brady might want to come to Vegas, but he has decided to retire. They thought that perhaps Aaron Rodgers could come to Vegas, but that’s trending the wrong way as well.
The Raiders can’t move on from Carr and sign Jimmy Garoppolo as their answer, so they get aggressive and move up for Richardson. The price wasn’t cheap. They send picks 38 and 109 this year, as well as a 2024 third rounder to come up and get the Florida product.
4. Indianapolis Colts- Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Chris Ballard puts his job on the line with this pick. Yes, QBs go 1 through 4, and Ballard settles for Levis after he’s unable to secure a trade to move up to number one. Levis is certainly a risky pick this high, but Jim Irsay seems pretty adamant that he wants a QB in the draft and not another veteran after Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan all failed.
Could the Colts trade the pick for Lamar Jackson? That’s certainly a trade for fodder, but that’s about the only path the Colts have to a QB at this point other than Levis. To me, drafting Levis here is what would get Chris Ballard fired in 2 to 3 seasons.
5. Seattle Seahawks- Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
It’s not too often that 71-year old men can do backflips, but that’s what Pete Carroll will do when he can’t believe his luck. Will Anderson, arguably the best player in the draft, falls all the way to 5 after a crazy run on quarterbacks.
Carroll is an old school guy who likes running the football and playing defense, and getting a talent like Anderson to come off the edge is a no brainer. He will start from day one and will be the easy front runner to win defensive rookie of the year.
6. Detroit Lions- Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
The Lions are starting to build something under Dan Campbell, and they know they could have some holes in the secondary coming up. Gonzalez is the perfect selection here for Brad Holmes. He’s a fluid defender who will run with the best receivers in the league and still will come up at the line of scrimmage and attack the run game.
The Lions would have to think long and hard about taking Jalen Carter here. Pairing him with Aidan Hutchinson with multiple years of control is a dream, but in the end, the Ford family goes with the safer selection, and they select Gonzalez.
7. Arizona Cardinals- Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The Cardinals are very pleased with this draft outcome. They are able to land a nice draft haul to trade back with the Lions, and still land the guy they probably would have taken at three anyway.
Certainly Carter had some legal trouble, and that is going to scare off some teams, but new coach Jonathan Gannon has already publicly discussed how well their interview went with Carter in Indianapolis and that they are monitoring his situation carefully. As long as nothing else comes out regarding the tragedy in Georgia that Carter was involved in, the Cardinals land a beast up front to fortify their defensive line.
8. Atlanta Falcons- Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
The Falcons are thrilled to land Wilson here. Daniel Jeremiah has mocked Wilson to go before Anderson. He has tremendous length and natural ability, and several scouts feel his upside could be even greater than Anderson.
The Falcons need to fix a lot of problems, but they’ll give Desmond Ridder a year to see if he can figure it out at QB. If he can’t, that means they’ll have a bad year and be in position to solve the QB issue in 2024. If he plays well, they can see if they landed a second round gem like the Raiders did with Derek Carr, and the Eagles did with Jalen Hurts.
9. Chicago Bears- Jaxon Smith- Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Trade for DJ Moore and draft Smith- Njigba? Would Ryan Poles trade for Chase Claypool, potentially extend Darnell Mooney and trade for DJ Moore and then draft JSN? He absolutely would on two accounts. One, he wants Justin Fields to break out in 2023 (and why wouldn’t he?), and two, and this was Ryan Pace’s biggest issue, he admits he made a mistake with Chase Claypool and instead of riding out a mistake, he corrects it immediately.
Drafting JSN would give the Bears a dynamic three-headed monster, and they could let Claypool go at the end of the year. Having Claypool also allows the Bears to bring JSN along slowly and not immediately give him 60% of offensive snaps a game. If Poles selected Jaxon, it would be an announcement to the world just how much they believe in Justin Fields and believe their offense could become elite.
10. Philadelphia Eagles- Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
If you’re still reading this article after the ninth selection, let me first say thank you for seeing this until the end. The Eagles have some tough decisions to make this offseason, and most of them are going to be on the defensive side of the ball, where they have several free agents.
Witherspoon can step in for James Bradbury, who almost certainly won’t be back, and can help keep a strong secondary afloat while they certainly bleed a little talent back there. The Eagles are still going to hum offensively, so going with a pick on the defensive side of the ball here makes too much sense.
Who would you draft at nine for the Bears if the real draft fell this way?