Bears Select WR Rome Odunze at No. 9

The Chicago Bears have selected WR Rome Odunze of Washington University with the ninth pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. This year alone, Odunze has proven to be a WR1 that can dominate one-on-one coverage. Odunze fell to them despite a lack of trades among the first eight picks, though every NFL fan was shocked when the Falcons selected Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth pick.

My Take: I had Odunze ranked equally with Caleb Williams. Odunze is a leader on the field and in the locker room who gives the exciting Bears offense another incredible weapon. He is a monster when it comes to contested catches and rarely drops a catchable ball. Williams gets his guy, Big Rome. The Bears get an A+ for their Day 1 picks.

Here’s what our own Rick Leen said about Odunze in his pre-draft analysis:

  • “Odunze doesn’t consistently lose defenders, but does he need to? He caught 21 of his 28 contested catches and showed he knows how to use his body to box out defenders. I dropped Odunze to the fourth spot because he needs tools to get defenders on their heels. He runs smooth routes and maintains speed throughout, but defensive backs are faster and smarter in the NFL. They won’t let receivers win with just speed. NFL defenders will get more physical with Odunze, and he struggled in college against physical press coverage. If Odunze develops a way to overcome physical defenders, he will have a successful career. His body control and flexibility allow him to stay fast and contort in the air with a large catch radius. Odunze is stronger than he looks, too, and he will consistently find extra yards falling forward. He won’t wait long, April 25th.”

Here’s his final draft analysis per Damian Parson of The Draft Network.

“Odunze has the combination of height, weight, and speed that NFL teams look for in an X-receiver. He added 15 pounds before the season to improve his physicality and it worked. He dominates at the catch point and plays well through contact. Michael Penix Jr. trusts Odunze in big-time moments to either win or lose a game late. The combination of hand-eye-coordination, leaping ability, and body control surely made trusting Odunze easier in 2023. His functional strength is evident once the ball is in his hands to generate yards after catch.

“He has improved his ability to defeat bump-and-run coverage from press alignment this season. He is doing a better job using his hands to dislodge DBs’ punches in the contact window. This allows him to quickly get into his route.”

Strengths (via

  • Carries the frame and play strength of an NFL WR1.
  • Lacks rare speed but should be considered a playmaker.
  • Good separation talent.
  • Early eyes on the football to find positioning as quickly as possible.
  • All-star ball-winner with magnificent body control and acrobatic ball skills.
  • Brilliant job of bodying defenders and controlling air traffic.
  • Is going to be too strong and too skilled for some defenders.
  • Catches with strong, reliable hands away from his frame.

Weaknesses (via

  • Rushes through early stages of his double moves.
  • Upright and gradual into top of the route on comebacks.
  • Attention to detail is missing from his routes.
  • Too content taking 50/50 battles rather than operating at top speed.
  • Room for greater effort as a run blocker

Fun Fact

Odunze is admittedly a much better pass catcher than a pilot.

Here’s what the ESPN analysts said about Odunze:

  • “Odunze put up four straight 100-yard receiving games to begin the 2023 season, and he has a tremendous combination of size and speed. He’s big, and he knows how to use his body to shield defenders. Watch him adjust on this touchdown catch against Boise State. Since 2020, Odunze put up 203 catches for 3,113 yards and 24 scores. He’s used both inside and out. He can make defensive backs miss after the catch.” – Mel Kiper Jr.
  • “Odunze led the nation and broke Washington’s school record with 1,640 receiving yards in 2023. He’s a vertical threat who gets off the line, runs well, and tracks deep balls well. Odunze is smooth transitioning upfield and is an instinctive open-field runner after the catch. His hand-eye coordination is excellent, and he looks natural plucking passes thrown outside of his frame. As a big target, Odunze has the catching radius to make contested grabs and is a tough matchup in the red zone. He changes speeds well at the top of routes and settles into pockets working against zone looks.” – Steve Muench
  • NFL Comp: Ja’Marr Chase
  • ESPN Rank: 8
  • ESPN Grade: 93
  • Last Year’s No. 9 Pick: Jalen Carter
  • Last WR Chosen by Bears in First Round: Kevin White (2015, seventh overall)
  • Money Quote: “If [the Bears] come get me . . . that’d be awesome and something I’d love to be a part of. My family, my mother, my pops, where I come from, we’re all hardworking and determined people with tenacity.”
  • Rome Cares: Odunze’s outstanding play on the field complemented his stellar work off of it. Odunze was a 3.47 GPA student and a volunteer with charities including the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and the Special Olympics.


Back to top button