Draft Pick Jockeying: Bears and Texans Lining Up as Potential Trade Partners

The Texans beat the Titans 19-14 on Saturday, breathing life into the Bears’ quest for the top draft pick. I don’t like calling it a quest because it implies Chicago is tanking, but there is no denying their current path could end with the 1.1 selection. Houston is 2-12-1 on the season, and the Bears are one win ahead at 3-12. The Texans close out their 2022-23 schedule with a home game against the Jaguars followed by a road tilt against the Colts.

The Bears, on the other hand, visit the Lions on Sunday before closing out the season with a contest at Soldier Field against the Vikings. Detroit is fighting for a playoff spot, and a loss to Chicago will crush their chances. The Vikings could be playing for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but they’ll need the Eagles to lose their final two games to make that happen. Minnesota would have to win twice, of course.

So where does that leave us?

  • The likelihood of the Bears securing the number one draft pick is probably 50/50. The Texans won’t beat the Jaguars, and they previously tied the Colts 20-20 in Week 1. Indianapolis currently owns the fifth pick, needs a quarterback, and doesn’t have an extra first-round selection to trade up. They’d certainly like to get into the top four, so they won’t put up much of a fight.
  • The Lions will do their best to destroy the Bears on Sunday because if they lose and the Commanders beat the Browns, they’ll be eliminated.
  • The Vikings, however, have a very slim chance of overtaking the Eagles. If Philadelphia beats the Saints on Sunday, they’ll clinch the top seed. That means Minnesota will probably rest its regulars in their game with the Bears.
  • In case you’re wondering, the Browns are a team to keep an eye on if you’re scoreboard watching. Why? The Texans own their first-round pick, currently 11th overall. After they play Washington, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers, who are also fighting for a playoff berth. If Cleveland finishes with 11 losses, they could be a bottom-10 team, giving Houston two of the first 10 picks.

I’ll die on this hill, but I believe the Bears and the Texans both want to draft Jalen Carter. That’s not the worst thing that could happen to Chicago, however. If Houston GM Nick Caserio and head coach Lovie Smith also want one of the top two quarterbacks, they’d make an excellent trade partner for the Bears. Houston has 13 selections next April. Caserio could pique Chicago’s interest if they dangled the Cleveland pick, plus picks 33 and 65 as part of a package to move up. I mentioned this exact scenario last week.

Ryan Poles would have to decide if passing on Carter is worth moving down. But, if Caserio and Smith choose the Georgia defensive lineman, what’s plan B? Is it Will Anderson? How about Myles Murphy? Is it a trade with another team? Poles will definitely not take a quarterback. In fact, it might only take the threat of Houston passing on a quarterback at No. 1 to motivate Poles. If the Bears traded down to the 10th pick they might take Bryan Bresee of Clemson, and then choose an offensive lineman and wide receiver with the extra Day 2 picks.

Conversely, Poles could select OT Peter Skoronski of Northwestern at No. 10 or any of wide receivers Quentin Johnston, Jordan Addison, or Jaxon Smith-Njigba. By the way, the Dolphins were forced to forfeit their first-round pick. So, No. 33 overall is technically 32nd, though the pick won’t be made until the second round/day.

Here are the scouting reports courtesy of The Draft Network for each of the players mentioned above:

There is also free agency to consider. That won’t matter much to the Texans, who should have about $48 million and change. But the Bears will have at least $120 million, so they’ll plug some of the team’s bigger holes ahead of the draft. Free agency starts on March 15, and expect Poles to quickly assemble offensive and defensive lines.

In case you’re wondering, the top two picks have DrafTek values of 3,000 and 2,600 points respectively. The Nos. 10, 33, and 65 are worth a combined 2,145 points. The two teams are ideally situated to swing a big draft day trade. With that in mind, it doesn’t matter much if Chicago finishes with the first or second overall selection. If the Bears fall by winning a game or two, however, their options will be much more limited.

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