With the NFL season building towards the Super Bowl and the NCAA season beginning bowl games, there is a lot of work to be done as teams finalize their plans for the NFL Draft. One such team are the Chicago Bears. The Bears are in the middle of a rebuild and there is still work to be done. When GM Ryan Poles was named to the role in January of 2022, he entered knowing that there would be no quick fix for the organization. Entering into the 2024 draft cycle, the Bears have positioned themselves in an interesting spot. After last season's trade with the Carolina Panthers the Bears currently hold two of the top five picks in the NFL Draft. The bad news is the Bears have more needs than their six total draft picks will address. The good news is that the team is also projected to have the seventh most cap space in the league for 2024 ($63 million). Let's take a look at how they could address their needs.
The Bears have to first and foremost figure out if they still believe Justin Fields, is their guy. Part of that decision will be based on their coaching decision which is to be determined. Outside of the quarterback, they need playmakers on offense to pair with DJ Moore. They need to build up their offensive line more to give whoever is quarterback the most protection. On defense, adding a running mate for Montez Sweat and get some reinforcements for the secondary.
So, with the first pick in the draft (as of this writing), the Bears have their choice of top-quality elite playmakers all over the field. The Bears enter the draft with picks 1 (from Carolina), five, 72 (third round), 107 (fourth round), 127 (fourth round), and 140 (fifth round). For the sake of argument, let's say the Bears trade with the Raiders. They could trade the first overall pick to the Raiders in exchange for the 12th, 43rd, 74th, and a first and second next season. Pick 1 - Trade to Raiders.
For the fifth overall pick, Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Marvin Harrison Jr, and Joe Alt have all been selected in that order. Although the Bears would be missing on Williams, this outcome would have the Bears in a great spot. They would have their choice of offensive line help with Olumuyiwa Fashanu and JC Latham, weapons like Brock Bowers, Malik Nabers, and Keon Coleman, a weapon for the defense in Dallas Turner, or a possible quarterback in Jayden Daniels. Either getting a potential quarterback for the future in Daniels, or one of the best weapons in the draft with Coleman, Bowers, or Nabers seems the best course. Pick 5 - Brock Bowers, tight end Georgia Bulldogs. Yes, I know Kmet is coming into his own, but a passing attack with Moore, Kmet, Bowers, and St. Brown would be fun to watch.
Next up is the 12th overall pick in the draft as a result of trading with the Raiders. At this stage, Daniels and Turner have both come off the board. With Nabers, Coleman, Terrion Arnold, Laiatu Latu and Jared Verse are all available. With the Bears needing help defensively, pairing Latu or Verse opposite of Sweat would be nice to see. While addressing the quarterback is still a question mark, and the addition of Bowers with the fifth pick gave the offense another playmaker defense is a logical choice to look at for this pick. Pick 12 - Jared Verse. While I could make a case for Latu here, I like Verse and his fit with the Bears. He is a physical playmaker on defense and has a quick first step. He can win matchups in different ways but works to make the team better. Seeing him and Sweat as bookends for the defensive line would be some new "Monsters of the Midway".
At pick 43 overall in the draft, the Bears have a lot of options to fill needs for the team. At safety, Tyler Nubin is available. T'Vondre Sweat, the defensive tackle from Texas is an intriguing choice for a three-headed monster defensive line. Running back Trey Benson would also be a good option here to pair with last season's draft pick Roschon Johnson. It feels like defense or running back would be the best course at this spot in the draft. Adding Nubin would reinforce the secondary with an heir apparent to Eddie Jackson. Pick 43 - T'Vondre Sweat. Adding a run stuffer like Sweat to the middle of the defensive line. Not only would it create mismatches for offensive lines, but it would give the Bears a solid young nucleus with Verse, Montez Sweat, T'Vondre Sweat, and last year's second-round pick, Gervon Dexter Sr.
With pick 72 overall, the Bears have a choice. Solidifying the offensive line feels right for the Bears and gives them the best value. Adding to the offensive line won't be the popular pick at all, but with so much of the game decided in the trenches, having a line that can effectively block against the upper tier teams in the conference is essential. The Bears already have a young line that has a solid core with last season's top pick Darnell Wright and Teven Jenkins. Adding Christian Haynes, the guard from UConn could be a slight reach to some but he's a bully on the interior of the offensive line. Pick 72 - Haynes. Adding a bulldozer at guard would give the Bears one of the best young offensive lines for their offense and quarterback in 2024 and beyond.
With the next pick, number 74 overall, the Bears still could address quarterback, corner, or add a running back. Or go in a different direction and choose the best available. Some of the quarterbacks available are Michael Pratt, Spencer Rattler, Sam Hartman, and Joe Milton. At corner, Mike Sainristil, Cam Hart, and DJ James are available. Running backs include Audric Estime, Blake Corum, Devin Neal, and MarShawn Lloyd. With the next selection for the Bears coming at number 103 overall, this is a sneaky pick to get some good to great production and value. Pick 74 - Michael Pratt. He has a big arm and shows good instincts and knowledge of the game. He's someone who could push Fields to be better or even take over for him as the team's number one.
The next pick for the Bears is number 103 overall. With the Bears having two more picks in this draft, there is a best available feel for this pick. Running back Audric Estime is still available and would be a solid value pick at this stage. A powerful runner who has the natural strength to run between the tackles and the speed to separate from defenders. Payton Wilson, the linebacker from NC State is also available. His tape just screams Bears as he is physical, loves contact, and goes from sideline to sideline like a missile attacking the ball carrier. Adding Cam Hart or Fentrell Cypress II to the secondary could provide some much-needed depth as well as hard hitters. Pick 103 - Audric Estime. The Bears have a question at running back. Last year's selection Roschon Johnson struggled at times as did D'Onta Foreman. Adding the versatility of Estime to pair and elevate the game of Johnson would create mismatches for the Bears.
At the 123rd overall selection of the draft, the Bears find themselves in a good spot. They could use depth at corner or go with the best available option. At corner, Cam Hart and Fentrell Cypress II are available for the Bears. Of the two, I like Cypress more, he has stayed healthier in college and can line up and make plays anywhere on the field. Pick 123 - Cypress II. Adding a piece to the secondary that has the upside to take over as starter is an easy choice. Cypress can line up on the boundary or in the slot and cover well at both.
With the Bears final pick of the 2024 NFL Draft at selection 134, the best available choice is best. Adding linebacker Payton Wilson from NC State seems like one of those quick selections that seem like the Bears would run to the podium to make the selection. He's a monster on defense and fits right into the storied history of Bears linebackers. Pick 134 - Payton Wilson.