The Chicago Bears are through the initial wave of free agency, and their plan for the NFL Draft is starting to come into focus. The good thing about the draft board this season is it seems to line up well with some positions the Bears need. Offensive tackle and defensive line are the two obvious holes on their roster, and both positions are fairly deep in the draft.
Chicago could pluck a player for the trenches with their first few selections, and it very well could be a best player available scenario. Drafting for need isn't ideal, but it's not a bad place to be when BPA lines up with need.
Let's take a look at what some draft analysts have the Bears doing at nine overall.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
As a reminder, here’s what Chicago got from Carolina for surrendering the No. 1 pick and dropping down eight spots:
• Wide receiver DJ Moore
• Picks Nos. 9 and 61 in April’s draft
• Carolina’s first-round pick in 2024
• Carolina’s second-round pick in 2025
That’s an incredible haul, and the 2024 pick might end up being the best of the bunch. While the Bears could be in play for a defensive lineman here — particularly if Jalen Carter drops — I see offensive tackle as their biggest hole after their moves in free agency. They added guard Nate Davis to start on the right side, but are they really trusting Teven Jenkins to lock in the right tackle job? They could have their choice of the class’ tackles here. Johnson played both tackle spots and right guard for the Buckeyes, and he already has blocked for quarterback Justin Fields. Chicago needs to keep supporting Fields and get him a stellar lineman with this pick, and it could still address the defense with its two second-round picks (Nos. 53 and 61) and early third-rounder (No. 64).
Johnson looks like a day-one starter in the NFL, and he has played on the right side during his time with the Buckeyes, which would allow the Bears to keep Braxton Jones where he's comfortable.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah
9) Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Peter Skoronski, Northwestern · OL · Junior
I love this pick for the Bears. Skoronski would be an immediate upgrade at right tackle for Justin Fields.
While I understand the arm-length threshold many teams have throughout the NFL, I also know what Skoronski's tape looked like at Northwestern. He's athletic, explosive, and strong, and some teams may believe he can overcome his 32¼" arms and play tackle, but I would be surprised if the Bears were one of them.
The 33rd Team
9. Chicago Bears - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
The Bears moved back to No. 9 to get extra assets and still get the player they would have taken at No. 1 — Jalen Carter. Carter’s draft process has included an arrest for racing and reckless driving chargers, which he plead no contest to, and an underwhelming pro day where he was out of shape and unable to complete positional drills. Still, his talent is undeniable, and the Bears need the pass rush help.
Pre-legal trouble, Carter was a lock to be the first or second non-quarterback selected in the draft, so if he can convince teams what happened will never happen again, he'll be a top 10 lock. The Bears have shied away from drama like this before, but Carter's talent may be worth the risk at nine.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco
9) Bears - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
Their defensive line needs a lot of help heading into this draft. Tyree Wilson might end up being the best edge player in this class. He does have a foot injury that has limited his offseason work some.
Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. is a lock to be the first EDGE off the board, but Wilson's frame, athleticism, and length gives him a Pro Bowl ceiling.
The Draft Network
9. Chicago Bears (via CAR) - Broderick Jones OT, Georgia
Ryan Poles has *almost* made up for the abysmal Chase Claypool trade, and him being able to land Broderick Jones here at No. 9 in this NFL mock draft is a big reason why. While many have Paris Johnson Jr. as OT1, I actually think Jones is the best prospect and has the most upside.
Jones' athleticism flashes every game, and he's another day-one starter where ever he lands. All his time in Georgia was on the left side, so he'd present the Bears with a decision on where he and Braxton line up. My guess is the Bears want to keep their second-year left tackle where he is, and any rookie they land will immediately start working on the right side.
So far, I'd be down with any of these scenarios if they play out like this, but this final mock is a no-go for me.
Pro Football Network
7) Chicago Bears (From LV): Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State
Trade: Chicago sends pick Nos. 9 and 64 in 2023 as well as a third-round pick in 2024, in exchange for pick No. 7 from Las Vegas.
The Chicago Bears have enough draft capital to move around and secure their preferred players at big areas of need. They move up two spots here to grab the top tackle on the board, jumping the OT-needy Atlanta Falcons in the process.
Paris Johnson Jr. played one year at left tackle in Columbus and looked every bit the part. Johnson is big and athletic, and at his best when on the move paving the way for skill players in space — something Justin Fields should quickly be able to take advantage of.
While it's possible the Bears trade up, Ryan Poles has already talked about his group of blue-chip players he feels he can land at nine overall. Johnson, Jones, and Carter are still on the board, so I don't see Poles moving up two spots.
Which of these mock drafts do you like the best for the Bears?