The collegiate All-Star games have become a hotbed for NFL news and rumors, and with the East-West Shrine Bowl followed so closely by the Senior Bowl, those are two huge gathering spots for general managers and scouts of all 32 teams. Media from countless outlets are in attendance, getting intel both on and off the record to get a feel for how the draft is shaping up, and while there are plenty of smoke screens being sent out, it’s also valuable for draft analysts to gain insight into how team’s are thinking this time of year.
Analysts are repositioning their mocks based on what they heard last week, so let’s check on a few here.
1. Caleb Williams - USC · QB · Junior - Williams’ tape was uneven in 2023, but the breadth of his talent and his upside on a rookie contract make him a sensible fit.
Williams at one would likely mean a Justin Fields trade, and in a recent radio spot from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he said that he believes the Bears could “definitely” get a second-round pick in return, with a first-rounder being a possibility if more than one team is involved in the bidding.
Zierlein thinks the Bears will stick with the offense with the ninth overall pick.
9. Malik Nabers - LSU · WR · Junior - Nabers and Georgia TE Brock Bowers would be perfect fits in new OC Shane Waldron’s offense (yes, even with Cole Kmet already at tight end). The Bears could also look to add a pass rusher opposite Montez Sweat in this slot.
Nabers (6’, 200) is a playmaker who can thrive in any scheme, and alongside DJ Moore, he’d give the Bears a devastating 1-2 punch.
Pro Football Focus‘ Trevor Sikkema and Connor Rogers also have the Bears going with the Williams-Nabers duo in the first round.
Matt Miller’s latest mock at ESPN is behind a paywall, but I can tell you he also has the Bears selecting Caleb Williams with the first overall selection.
Everyone I spoke to at the Senior Bowl speculated that the Bears will draft Williams first overall and then trade starting quarterback Justin Fields for a package potentially centered around a second-round pick. That’s also what I would do if I were in GM Ryan Poles’ shoes. Williams is a unique quarterback prospect with elite arm strength and field vision, plus an innate ability to create plays from inside and outside the pocket. He has 93 career touchdown throws and just 14 interceptions.
Miller also said that Williams’ ceiling is that of a top-three QB in the league, and with the ninth pick overall, Miller thinks the Bears will go offensive line and pick Olu Fashanu from Penn State.
Bears left tackle Braxton Jones is a good but limited player; he will never be a top-five NFL left tackle. So with the top three receivers off the board, I’m looking at the loaded OT class. Fashanu is raw — he has been a starter for just 18 games in college — but he has excellent movement ability and a mean streak in the run game. He has the potential to become an elite NFL tackle, which is why Chicago skips reaching for a wide receiver or drafting a pass-rusher in favor of taking Fashanu as the best player available.
Miller also points out that Williams and Fashanu were high school teammates at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., which would make for an interesting reunion.
I’m a fan of Braxton Jones, but adding more talent to the offensive line isn’t a bad thing, and Fashanu does have incredible upside. Plus, this is a deep wideout class, so snagging some talent later is an option, as is adding a free agent receiver.
Josh Edwards from CBS Sports has the Bears going with Williams at number one, but he has them taking wideout Rome Odunze from Washington at nine.
DJ Moore has two years remaining on a contract that he signed in Carolina, but Darnell Mooney is scheduled to become a free agent. Rome Odunze is a bigger body who brings some skill set diversity to a Bears offense led by Caleb Williams.
Luke Easterling from Sports Illustrated has the Bears also going with USC’s QB at one, but he has Chicago going defense at nine with UCLA edge Laiatu Latu.
Which of these mocks do you like best, or do you still think the Bears are keeping Fields and trading one overall for some picks?