Bears Probably Won’t Get a Top-Three Wide Receiver Without Trading Up

The NFL Draft is a week away and we are certain of a couple of things:

  1. GM Ryan Poles will take Caleb Williams at No. 1. The Bears love the USC quarterback and the feeling is reportedly mutual. So that’s a done deal.
  2. There will be at least one ridiculous trade or two, and maybe more, on draft night.
  3. Analysts believe as many as four quarterbacks and three wide receivers will be taken in the first 10 picks.
  4. Analysts also believe one of Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, or Rome Odunze could be available when the Bears make their No. 9 selection.

I disagree. Poles will have to trade up if he wants to add one of those players. That’s what I’m thinking, anyway.

I know it’s a deep draft for wide receivers but there are only three that can be immediate difference-makers, and that’s MHJ, Nabers, and Odunze. The Falcons are going to receive a lot of interest from teams looking to jump ahead of the Bears if one of them is available. The Jets and Bills are the most likely to trade up but don’t count out the Packers, either. Green Bay has 11 picks in this draft.

That means the Bears need to trade up if they want someone like Harrison Jr. or Odunze, but other teams will be trying to trade up, too, whether they need a wide receiver or covet one of the top four quarterbacks. That’s part of my reasoning behind Brock Bowers going to the Bears. He’s the one top-10 pick who hasn’t been connected to Chicago by anyone, but he might be the most dynamic playmaker in the draft.

There have been no trades so far because the Bears aren’t shopping the No. 1 pick, the Commanders aren’t shopping the No. 2 pick, and the Patriots are waiting to see how things unfold. So, let’s assume seven of the top eight picks will be quarterbacks or wide receivers, and that Joe Alt is also a top-eight pick. Poles would then have the option to make a selection or trade down. Dallas Turner, JC Latham, and Byron Murphy II have all been connected to Chicago. Each fills a need, too.

Poles would probably trade down at that point, and you can’t blame him. Then again, he could trade up to take Harrison Jr. if he believes another team that needs a receiver will also trade up. The Falcons’ pick will be in play, but Poles might be more aggressive. The Cardinals, Chargers, and Titans are positioned nicely to trade down based on their needs. What might a trade look like?

I don’t rely on the DraftTek trade value charts as much as I used to because the top of the first round will be skewed by overpays. Still, it’s a handy reference so let’s take a look. Chicago’s value for the No. 9 pick is 369 points according to the site.

  1. Cardinals – Arizona’s No. 4 pick is worth 491 points. The Bears would have to send their third-round pick and a second-round pick next year to create fair value. Some may see that as an overpay, but Harrison Jr. is a generational talent. If the Cardinals trade the pick elsewhere, and Harrison is selected, Poles will likely shift into trade-down mode.
  2. Chargers – Some team may trade up to No. 4 to take a quarterback, putting San Diego in the catbird seat. That selection is worth 468 points, however, so a trade with San Diego would look similar to a trade with the Cards.
  3. Titans – The Tennessee pick is worth 426 points. Swapping first-round selections and including a third-round pick this year should be enough to get it done. Harrison Jr. would likely be gone by then, however. Nabers and Odunze could still be available, so Poles might have an incentive to jump up.
  4. Falcons – Their pick is worth 406 points and they’re in a prime position to fleece the Bears if Poles covets Odunze or Nabers and only one is available. But would the Bears pay a premium that exceeds value to move up one spot? Doubtful, unless Poles has either rated above MHJ on his board.

That brings me back to Bowers, who is a true unicorn and a gifted, dynamic tight end. I agree with most who say Bowers doesn’t fill a need, but Poles doesn’t run a needs-based draft. He’d be a unique addition to Chicago’s offense, and not just because Shane Waldron loves his two tight end sets. The Bears could deploy him as the Y-end or use him as a wide receiver in a power slot formation. How would teams defend that with D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, and Cole Kmet as additional options? And what about Chicago’s running game? Defenders can’t quit on D’Andre Swift, Khalil Herbert, or Roschon Johnson just because they’re afraid of Waldon’s passing attack.

Adding Bowers makes Chicago’s offense nearly indefensible. So, I’m going to keep him lightly penciled in as my top choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if the Bears could get MHJ or Big Rome. I’m just not in love with the idea of trading up, and that may be the only option available to get either.

I also wouldn’t be upset if Chicago selected Turner, Latham, or Murphy II. I just like the idea of adding Bowers to Chicago’s offense a lot more.

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