Scouting Draft Prospects Linked to Bears in First Round of NFL Draft

The Bears are going to draft Caleb Williams at 1.01 unless something drastically changes. It’s not even a matter of reading the tea leaves at this point, a phrase I vehemently abhor. The courtship between player and team has been obvious, and I don’t see GM Ryan Poles choosing a different path.

That said, the Bears have other holes to fill and have just three selections after Williams to fill those needs. Poles has split his staff into positional groups to determine what the team will do with the ninth pick. They’ll debate the best course of action in an empowering, inclusive strategy designed to maximize Chicago’s dearth of picks. The Bears could trade up, trade down, or stay put depending on the consensus of that quorum.

Assuming the group decides to stay put or trade up, let’s take a look at the prospects most often linked to the Bears. I’ll reference “The Beast” ($) by Dane Brugler of The Athletic, Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network, and Daniel Jeremiah of Player links redirect to TDN and are ranked by the consensus probability that the Bears are likely to draft the player if he’s available.

R1P1 – QB Caleb Williams (USC)

Williams ensures that everybody and their brother will get at least one selection right in their mock drafts. This selection is fait accompli at this point, and if your mock says something different, you’re surely going to be disappointed.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.01
  • Age: 22
  • Height/Weight: 6’1″/214 lbs.
  • Strengths: Arm talent to make every throw. Accuracy and velocity to fit the ball into tight windows. Physical tools to be an X-Factor QB.
  • Weaknesses: Because he relies on his arm strength, Williams sometimes takes chances by forcing throws into coverage. His accuracy suffers on short-yardage passes because of his lower-body mechanics.
  • What Brugler Says: Rare football awareness…impressive pocket ability and feel for negotiating the rush to evade defenders in confined spaces. Williams displays the unique ability to quickly set his base and fine balance from any platform. Overall, Williams needs to be more consistent in working on schedule from the pocket, but you live with the hiccups because the positives are special with his dynamic passing skills and instinctive ability to create. Though stylistically he is like a really impressive karaoke-style version of Patrick Mahomes, he is truly unique as a playmaker.
  • What Sanchez Says: Williams is a dual-threat quarterback who has the arm talent to make all throws to all levels of the field accurately. He also has the ability to make game-changing plays with his legs.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Williams can power the ball into tight windows while stationary or on the move. He can also finesse the ball when needed and he has lightning-quick hands in the RPO game. He’s a dynamic runner and makes defenders look silly in space. Overall, Williams has areas in which he needs to improve, but he has franchise-altering upside.

R1P9 – WR Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)

There is no way Harrison will fall to the Bears at No. 9, so Chicago would have to trade up to Nos. 4 or 5 if they want to take the consensus top wide receiver.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.04
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″/209 lbs.
  • Strengths: Harrison Jr. is a nuanced route-runner with incredible body control. He’s an elite blocker and is the best in his class at catching contested balls.
  • Weaknesses: He has difficulty selling double moves and lacks the explosiveness you’d like to see from a best-in-class receiver.
  • What Brugler Says: Harrison Jr. has extraordinary dexterity and freaky athleticism. He reaches top speed very quickly and is explosive off the line using a variety of releases to defeat press coverage. Overall, he has dominant receiving traits and can win from anywhere on the field, because of his athletic gifts, route savvy, and adjustment/finishing skills at the catch point. He is among the best receiving prospects to enter the NFL in recent memory, and he has the dedication to his craft to be a playmaking No. 1 NFL receiver and future All-Pro.
  • What Sanchez Says: Harrison Jr. is an outstanding X-receiver who can align and dominate anywhere on offense.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Harrison Jr. has ideal size, speed, and production. Built like a power forward, he plays with a blend of physicality and explosiveness. He uses his upper-body strength to power through press coverage. He’s a smooth/fluid route runner and closes the cushion quickly. He is a prototypical No. 1 receiver and should enjoy immediate NFL success.

R1P9 – WR Rome Odunze (Washington)

Odunze has been ranked anywhere from number one to three among this year’s group of top wide receivers. He could fall to the Bears if four quarterbacks are drafted among the top eight selections, and he’s a near lock if five signal callers are taken before the Bears announce their second pick of the first round.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.07
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’2″/212 lbs.
  • Strengths: Route-running, downfield speed, and body control. Odunze excels at accumulating yards after the catch.
  • Weaknesses: Odunze lacks twitch and explosiveness at the line of scrimmage. He has difficulty against hard press coverage and also lacks the ability to defeat double coverage.
  • What Brugler Says: Good-sized athlete with desirable measurables. Odunze plays exceptionally well through contact and uses his length to make full extension grabs while using his frame and strength to box out and win contested balls. Overall, Odunze is an above-average height/weight/speed athlete with the pass-catching instincts and competitive focus to be a playmaking NFL receiver. He projects as a true X receiver and has the skill level to elevate his quarterback’s play (stylistically similar to Drake London).
  • What Sanchez Says: This year alone, Odunze has proven to be a WR1 that can dominate one-on-one coverage.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Odunze is a big, athletic wideout with exceptional hands. He can play outside or in the slot and is refined and polished in everything he does on the field. He uses his strength to lean into defenders before separating out of the break point. Odunze is a complete player and reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald coming out of college.

R1P9 – WR Malik Nabers (LSU)

  • Consensus Rank: 1.08
  • Age: 20
  • Height/Weight: 6’2″/199 lbs.
  • Strengths: Nabers possesses big play ability and has great body control. He runs precise routes, can be physical after the catch, and plays with a high motor. He’s a reliable target on seams, corners, and posts who smoothly adjusts and frames the football away from his body.
  • Weaknesses: His catch radius is small and he struggles to separate on vertical routes.
  • What Brugler Says: Nabers is a gliding athlete who has the acceleration necessary to separate early or late in the route. Overall, Nabers has only average size/strength, but he offers dynamic potential, because of his ability to accelerate/decelerate on command and always make himself available with his athletic catch-point skills. He projects as a playmaking receiver in the NFL.
  • What Sanchez Says: Nabers has the complete package of explosiveness, acceleration, and strength that allows him to be a great route-runner while physically dominant in run-after-catch situations.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Nabers is a dynamic receiver with outstanding competitiveness and production. He explodes off the line in his release, creating immediate separation, and he sets up defenders before snapping off his route. He isn’t afraid to work in the middle of the field and has strong hands to finish through contact. Nabers is an electric playmaker who reminds me of D.J. Moore with the ball in his hands.

R1P9 – EDGE Dallas Turner (Alabama)

The Bears would like to pair a dominant pass rusher on the edge with Montez Sweat, and a lot of analysts have mocked Turner to Chicago at No. 9 overall.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.09
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’2″/247 lbs.
  • Strengths: First-step explosiveness and fluidity in the open field. Turner possesses great bend to turn the edge and is position-versatile.
  • Weaknesses: He’s not very strong at the point of attack while defending the run. Turner lacks the requisite lower-body strength expected from a blue-chip prospect. He is a little too quiet at times and had just three or fewer pressures in nine of 14 starts in 2023.
  • What Brugler Says: Overall, Turner is a long, explosive edge rusher with the body twitch, hand usage, and play strength to leverage blocks and be disruptive in multiple ways. He has the freaky tools to be a potential impact player in the NFL who should continue to improve as his body and rush attack mature.
  • What Sanchez Says: Turner has all of the physical tools to develop into a consistently impactful edge rusher in the NFL.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Turner is a long, athletic edge with excellent production and an intriguing skill set as a pass rusher. He has a quick first step and wins a lot of reps by stabbing with his inside arm and collapsing the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder. Turner has played a pivotal role on the ‘Bama defense for three years and he’s ready to make an immediate impact at the next level.

R1P9 – OT Joe Alt (Notre Dame)

Alt is considered a blue-chip offensive talent tackle but he grades a little lower than the rest of the potential top-nine targets. He does fill a position of need if the Bears want to move Braxton Jones inside or relegate the third-year tackle to second string.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.06
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’8″/321 lbs.
  • Strengths: Alt provides an outstanding combination of size and athleticism. He’s nimble for his size with excellent lateral agility.
  • Weaknesses: His anchor tends to be a little too gradual so power rushers can walk him back before he settles. He is occasionally caught lunging in pass protection and can be yanked forward by defenders.
  • What Brugler Says: Alt stays light on his feet with the big-man agility, body control, and instinctive recovery skills to become a high-level run blocker and above-average pass protector very early in this NFL career. He projects as a first-year, scheme-versatile starter with the pedigree to be a cornerstone player for an NFL franchise (he is Jake Matthews in Nate Solder’s body).
  • What Sanchez Says: Alt has the physical stature, strength, movement skills, and on-field play to become a franchise left tackle for the next decade.
  • What Jeremiah Says: In pass pro, Alt plays with a wide base and is very under control. He will mix up his pass sets, occasionally jump-setting and stunning opponents. He has the quickness to kick out and cover up outside speed rushers, while also possessing the length to keep power rushers from getting into his chest. Overall, Alt isn’t a rare athlete, but his combination of size, instincts, and youth (he’ll be 21 for his entire rookie season) is easy to bet on.

R1P9 – TE Brock Bowers (Georgia)

The Bears appear to be set at tight end, at least for the upcoming season, but Bowers is a game-changing pass-catcher who will impact an offense as much, if not more, as any of the top wide receivers in this draft.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.10
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″/243 lbs.
  • Strengths: Bowers possesses the strength and athleticism to win contested balls, and the agility to beat zone defenders. He’s a special athlete for his size and can reach top speed as quickly as most receivers.
  • Weaknesses: He struggles to separate from his defenders and can be beat consistently in press-man coverage. Bowers lacks the desired size to be effective on running plays.
  • What Brugler Says: Bowers is an explosive pass catcher who creates mismatches all over the field with speed, ball skills and competitive edge. He has NFL star potential in the mold of George Kittle, if he lands with a play-caller prepared to feature his unique and versatile talent.
  • What Sanchez Says: Bowers is a physically gifted pass-catcher. He reminds me of  Kittle and Sam LaPorta.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Bowers is an undersized tight end with elite speed, strength and playmaking ability. He lined up all over the field at Georgia — in-line, on the wing, split out and even at running back. He is very sudden in his release, and he uses his upper-body strength to chuck defenders when pressed at the line of scrimmage. Bowers reminds me a lot of Kittle, and I see him having a similar impact in the NFL.

R1P9 – EDGE Jared Verse (Florida St.)

Some mocks have Verse going to the Bears at No. 9. I do not Think he is a top-10 pick, but I’m not Poles, either. Verse is a reliable and disruptive pass rusher, but is he a three-down player? I don’t think he is.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.13
  • Age: 23
  • Height/Weight: 6’3″/254 lbs.
  • Strengths: A natural athlete with great lateral agility, bend, and functional strength. Verse has a high motor and an explosive first step when rushing the passer.
  • Weaknesses: Verse is just not very good as a run defender. He’s also a little old and will turn 24 about halfway through the ’24 season.
  • What Brugler Says: When he channels his relentless energy, Verse is as disruptive as anyone in this class because of his explosive get-off power through his frame and NFL-quality hand use. His physical traits and competitive football temperament give him a high floor as an NFL starter (reminiscent of eight-year NFL veteran Dante Fowler).
  • What Sanchez Says: Verse has an explosive first step combined with the natural ability to bend and turn the corner that makes him a consistent sack threat.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Verse is a rugged, twitched-up edge rusher with a thick/powerful build. At Florida State, he moved around the defensive front. Against the pass, he explodes off the edge and tries to run right through offensive tackles, doing so in two different ways: 1) He will stutter to get OTs off balance and then charge right through with his hands; or 2) he’ll simply bury his head into the blocker’s chest and walk him right back to the quarterback. Verse is not only a productive pass rusher — he’s a violent tempo setter for the defense.

R1P9 – OT JC Latham (Alabama)

Latham is a violent and mauling lineman with a lot of pre-draft helium who would protect Williams, Tyson Bagent, and or Brett Rypien very well. He’s rising up draft boards as quickly as Darnell Wright did last year thanks to an elite combination of size, physicality, and strength.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.16
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’5″/342 lbs.
  • Strengths: Natural athleticism, strength to anchor, and lateral agility with strong, powerful hands.
  • Weaknesses: On gap/power run plays, Latham does a good job of making initial contact and getting movement but he needs to improve on sustaining blocks. He also lacks the ability to handle the inside counter move.
  • What Brugler Says: Latham needs to clean up his inconsistent (yet fixable) habits, but he offers elite play strength and functional football movements to stay square and overmatch his opponent. He is an ascending prospect with the talent to win a starting right tackle job as an NFL rookie, although some teams project him best inside at guard.
  • What Sanchez Says: Latham has the prototypical size and athleticism necessary to be a dominant offensive tackle.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Latham is a massive right tackle. He has an enormous power base and taps into it in both the run and pass games. In pass pro, he has average quickness, but plays with good knee bend and a flat back. He can anchor power rushers immediately. He has vise grips for hands; once he gets attached to defenders, the pass rush is over. Latham doesn’t have ideal foot quickness or awareness, but his size and physicality are very tantalizing.

R1P9 – DT Byron Murphy II (Texas)

Murphy is the three-technique head coach Matt Eberflus has dreamed of, but the Bears may desire an edge rusher a little more. Murphy would make for an fantastic pairing with Gervon Dexter Sr. Poles could probably trade down as far as No. 20 if he likes Murphy.

  • Consensus Rank: 1.21
  • Age: 21
  • Height/Weight: 6’4″/297 lbs.
  • Strengths: Murphy is a high-motor three-technique with first-step explosiveness and good pad leverage.
  • Weaknesses: He’s a little small and a scheme-dependent tackle who can struggle at times against double teams.
  • What Brugler Says: Murphy doesn’t have ideal length, but his rare combination of lower-body twitch, natural leverage and power throughout his frame sets his apart. With his disruptive energy, both as a pass rusher and versus the run, he projects as an impact starter who can play shaded nose or three -technique, similar to Grady Jarrett.
  • What Sanchez Says: He has an explosive first step which allows him to become a disruptive interior defensive lineman who makes plays behind the line of scrimmage.
  • What Jeremiah Says: Murphy is a very explosive, nimble and instinctive defensive tackle. He is a dynamic disruptor against the pass game who explodes out of his stance and can roll his hips on contact, creating instant push. Once he feels a blocker leaning left or right, he has elite change-of-direction quickness. Against the run, he can utilize his quickness to penetrate and create negative plays. He also has incredible balance to take on blocks. Murphy might lack ideal size, but he’s a leverage machine who makes an impact on all three downs.


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