Shortly after the Owners' Meetings in Phoenix last month, the Chicago Bears swung a huge trade with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers gave the Bears a top player at a position of need as well as much-needed future Draft Capital in the trade that got Carolina the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. As part of that trade, the Bears got the ninth overall pick in this Draft. Now with the Draft just a week and a half away, should the Bears be looking to trade down again?
The advantage to staying at nine means they can select a plug-and-play prospect at one of a few different positions. There are some very good tackle prospects at the top of this year's Draft, and the Bears have a huge need at right tackle. Picking at nine, they should be looking, at the very least, at all but one of the top tackles in this Draft. They also could be looking at one of the top corners. The one player who could be there is the player who many believed just a couple of months ago was the best player in this Draft, and that is Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter,
Since late January, things have gone south for Carter because he was involved in a horrible traffic accident that cost the lives of a Georgia football teammate and a friend. He was then charged with two misdemeanors as a result of the events surrounding that accident. Carter pleaded no contest to the charges in order to put that horrible event behind him.
Not only was Carter involved in the incident, but he had a very poor Pro Day workout. A workout that was so poor that many questioned his football character and desire to be a great NFL player.
Carter will no longer be the first non-QB selection in the Draft, and he may not be a top-five or even a top-ten selection. That means he could very well be available to the Bears when they pick at nine. Should the Bears select Carter? The answer to that question is only known by a few people inside Halas Hall, which include General Manager Ryan Poles, Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and Chairman George McCaskey.
I would say that the odds of the Bears selecting Carter are slim at best. If that is the case, the Bears could choose an offensive tackle or a corner with the ninth pick. If they decided to take a tackle, it would be one of Paris Johnson Jr. from Ohio State or Broderick Jones from Georgia. One of those two could already be gone, so the decision would be easy if they decided to go the tackle route.
If the Bears were to select a corner, it would come from Christian Gonzales from Oregon, the consensus top corner in the Draft, or maybe Devon Witherspoon from Illinois or Joey Porter from Penn State. There could also be a top-rated defensive end available, but that seems highly unlikely as of now.
Instead of making a selection, the Bears could trade down again. That would give them more draft capital in which to build a team in need of top talent. When you trade down, you are giving up top talent to get extra picks, but that isn't always the best way to look at it.
When I was the Bears Scouting Director, I always looked at trading down as an opportunity to get more top players, and then you look at the entire package of players versus what they could select if they stay at nine.
For the sake of argument, let's say that Paris Johnson is available at nine, and Ryan Poles decides to trade down. How far can/should he trade? There have been recent rumors that the Pittsburgh Steelers want to move up in the Draft. The purpose of them moving up would be for an offensive tackle. If that is the case, the Bears would lose out on a chance to select a starting tackle, but is that the best way to look at it?
Using the Draft Trade Chart, the Bears' pick at nine is worth 1350 points, and the Steelers' pick at 17 is worth 950 points. The difference is 400 points, so the Steelers would have to give the Bears draft picks worth a total of 400 points on top of the 17th overall selection.
If I were doing the trade, I might look at a scenario such as the following. The Steelers currently hold two picks in the second round: the 32nd overall selection and the 49th overall selection. The Bears' picks in the second round are the 53rd overall pick as well as the 61st pick. In order to make this trade, I would swap second-round picks with the Steelers, meaning the Bears would get 32 and 49, and the Steelers would receive 53 and 61.
On the trade chart, the Bears would be out some points but in my opinion, so what! The strong area of this Draft is the top half of the second round. Having picks 32 and 49 would give the Bears considerably better players than at 53 and 61. That has to be a consideration when making the trade.
If that trade were to be made, the Bears at 17 could very well still draft a top offensive tackle in Darnell Wright from Tennessee or Anton Harrison from Oklahoma. Either are good enough to come in and start as rookies. The Bears could also bypass an offensive tackle and select a defensive end such as Nolan Smith from Georgia or Georgia Tech's Keion White, who I feel will be a damn good 3-Tech in Chicago's scheme.
It's with the earlier second-round picks that it gets interesting. Depending on who the Bears select at 27, they could have several different options at 32. If they choose an offensive tackle, then the Bears could select Northwestern defensive tackle Adebaowa Adetomiwa who has been a hot commodity since the Senior Bowl. Adetomiwa could be one of the better 3-Techs in this Draft.
If the Bears took a defensive player at 17, then they could come back with an offensive tackle such as Syracuse's Matthew Bergeron or Maryland's Jaclyn Duncan. Bergeron is a player that I really like because of his physical play and athleticism.
At 49, there very well could be some outstanding edge players. Notre Dame's Isaiah Foskey, Auburn's Derek Hall or LSU's BJ Ojulari are among them. All are players that would make immediate impacts as rookies.
Obviously, I don't know how the Bears Board is set, but those are names that should be drafted in these areas. After 49, the Bears' next pick would be the first pick of the third round, which is number 64. At that spot, the Bears could take their highest-rated player at wide receiver, corner, or offensive line, and by the end of Day-2 of the Draft, they could very well have filled all the important needs.
Trading down is a win for the Bears when we look at the options that could be present. Now we just have to hope the opportunity presents itself.