Whether you agree with the move or not, the national consensus among NFL insiders is that the Chicago Bears will move on from Justin Fields this offseason.
The spirited debate has already garnered heated reactions from both sides, and it will likely continue to do so long after a decision has already been made. For the time being, though, it seems like the expectation for the upcoming offseason will see Chicago trade Fields and select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.
In a Tuesday appearance on Waddle and Silvy for ESPN 1000, Adam Schefter speculated that the Bears could “definitely” get a second-round pick for Fields, and that they “might” get a first-round pick in the deal.
Though the exact way through which the Bears could acquire a first-round pick for Fields is unknown, it would make sense if he were packaged with another draft pick in order for Chicago to move up into Round 1. They currently have two first-round picks in the 2024 draft, but imagine the damage they could do with three.
Let’s pursue this scenario in my latest 2024 7-round Bears mock draft.
Steelers receive: QB Justin Fields, 2024 third-round pick (No. 75)
Bears receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 20)
The lovely folks at PFF give this trade a 74% chance of being accepted by the Steelers, and they have a much better gauge of a player’s trade value than I do.
It makes sense for the Bears, obviously, but it also makes sense for Pittsburgh. Fields is not only an immediate upgrade at quarterback over Kenny Pickett, but he has a much higher ceiling. The Steelers are a winning franchise with a good defense, a great coaching staff and some nice weapons in the passing game. They were able to make it into the postseason with a carousel of Pickett, Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph at quarterback. With Fields, there’s not only a better chance for success in 2024, but there’s a better chance they’ll find their franchise player.
Round 1 (via Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC
I wrote an almost 2,500-word manifesto on Williams after breaking down all of his collegiate film over 3 seasons. Read it, and you’ll know I think he’s the guy at No. 1.
Round 1: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
I’m a massive fan of Odunze and think he should be the selection if he’s available at No. 9. Of course, there’s no guarantee he’ll be available when the Bears pick, but if he is, the prospect of adding a well-rounded ‘X’ receiver with Pro Bowl potential to pair with your new quarterback is too good to pass up.
Cowboys receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 20)
Bears receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 24), 2024 third-round pick (No. 87), 2025 fourth-round pick
Without selections in Rounds 2 or 3 in this scenario, it might make sense for the Bears to move down if they can find a suitable trade partner. In this case, it’s the Cowboys, who could look for a Tyron Smith replacement in Round 1 in the form of someone like Amarius Mims from Georgia, J.C. Latham from Alabama or Tyler Guyton from Oklahoma.
Round 1 (via Cowboys, projected trade): Jer’Zhan Newton, DL, Illinois
Of the NFL website’s four draft analysts, only two of them had Newton in the first round of their most recent mock drafts. It appears as though Byron Murphy II from Texas and Darius Robinson from Missouri are the flavors of the month along the interior.
Though I have high grades on both — especially Robinson — Newton is still my top-rated defensive tackle. He’s an explosive 3-technique defensive tackle with a deep arsenal as a pass-rusher, a red-hot motor and great body control at the line of scrimmage. Should he fall outside of the top 20 when the actual draft comes around, you’re entering steal territory with him.
Round 3 (via Cowboys, projected trade): Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan
I’m expecting the Bears to sign an edge rusher in free agency, and it’s likely they’d draft one earlier than this if they don’t. However, I still like them utilizing a draft pick to bolster their defensive end position.
Kneeland is a powerful edge rusher at 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds with 34-inch long arms. He plays with impressive grip strength holding up blocks in the run game, and he pushes the pocket well with good speed-to-power conversion out of his lower body. He times his first step off the ball well, and he showcases good spatial awareness stacking and shedding blocks against the run. The Bears already have speed off the edge in Montez Sweat, so Kneeland’s average athleticism wouldn’t hurt them much. He would be a good power rusher to implement into the defensive rotation with eventual starting upside.
Round 4: Bucky Irving, RB, Oregon
If the Bears don’t re-sign D’Onta Foreman, they’ll be in the market for another running back for their committee this offseason. While a power back to fill Foreman’s role would be an option, I like them diversifying their running back room with a speedster.
Irving is one of the top backs in the class at making defenders miss. He’s an elusive runner with top-notch lateral quickness and great acceleration once he gets out in space. He makes smart decisions in between the tackles and has both the athleticism and creativity needed to know when to bounce outside and make a big play. Irving is a capable route runner on passing downs, and for a smaller back, he absorbs contact well and fights hard through contact. He would give Chicago another element of speed for their offense that would make them more unpredictable for opposing defenses.
Round 4 (via Eagles): Charles Turner III, C/OG, LSU
If you’re looking for an offensive lineman in Round 4, you’re looking for immediate versatility and tangible tools. Turner has that in spurts.
With playing experience at both tackle spots, left guard and center, Turner should provide instant value as a depth piece in the NFL. He has 33 6/8-inch long arms, putting him in the upper echelon among interior blockers. His balance and coordination at the point of attack is impressive, as he keeps his pads low, his knees bent, and his weight distributed evenly. He lands his jabs with ideal accuracy and offers good spatial awareness in pass protection and as an inside-zone run blocker. The upside in terms of raw size, play strength and athleticism aren’t through the roof, but he’s a technician who can play anywhere along the offensive line.
Jaguars receive: 2024 fifth-round pick (No. 142)
Bears receive: 2024 fifth-round pick (No. 151), 2024 sixth-round pick (No. 210), 2024 seventh-round pick (No. 233)
This trade is more to just stock up on late Day 3 selections that Chicago currently lacks. Ryan Poles made 8 selections in Rounds 6 and 7 in his first two drafts as the Bears’ general manager, so he’s shown that he values the chance to beat other teams to the punch on prospects they like prior to undrafted free agency.
Round 5 (via Jaguars, projected trade): Tahj Washington, WR, USC
It might not be a bad idea to pair your new quarterback with his No. 1 collegiate receiver from the year before!
Though I anticipate Brenden Rice to be the highest-picked USC receiver in the 2024 draft, I actually have the higher grade on Washington. He’s a twitchy slot receiver with impressive lateral quickness, both after the catch and as a route runner. He’s explosive off the snap and disguises his route concepts well. His reliability as a pass-catcher took a huge leap, going from a 10.2% drop rate in 2022 to a 1.7% drop rate in 2023.
Round 6 (via Jaguars, projected trade): Khristian Boyd, DL, Northern Iowa
Boyd is a standout from Bears special teams coach Richard Hightower’s East team at the East-West Shrine Bowl. The two-time All-MVFC nose tackle is an extremely powerful defender who packs a nice punch at the line of scrimmage and holds up blocks well at the point of attack with tremendous anchor strength. He offers a solid arsenal as a pass-rusher, with quick and active hands that are capable of stringing moves together to create backfield penetration. His sack production won’t wow you, but he projects as an immediate competitor for a 1-technique roster spot and a potential rotational defender for the long run.
Round 7 (via Jaguars, projected trade): Mikey Victor, CB, Alabama State
Another member of Richard Hightower’s team at the Shrine Bowl, Victor brings a lot to like from a physical perspective. He’s 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds with long arms, and he puts that length to good use. He’s a physical boundary cornerback who’s competitive at the catch point, and he has impressive ball production with 2 interceptions and 15 pass deflections in 2023. He has good deep speed with impressive vertical explosiveness, indicating he could test quite well. Though he’s quite raw as a processor and tackler, he’s one of the top HBCU players in the draft, and his tools are worth taking a flier on in the later rounds.