What Landing the No. 1 Pick Could Mean for the Chicago Bears

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What Landing the No. 1 Pick Could Mean for the Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears

We talked about the Texans winning this past weekend, opening up a possible path for the Bears to jump them for the No. 1 pick in the draft in the season’s final two weeks on Monday. But what would it mean for the Bears to land the top pick? Does it *actually* make that much of a difference?

I’ve heard and seen mixed reviews on the importance of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Some argue that it doesn’t make much of a difference, and I’m afraid I have to disagree with that.

But Patrick, how much more value can the Bears get from moving up just one spot in the draft?

Well, the answer is significantly more, but before I tell you how the Bears could extract that value, let’s take a walk through previous trades for the No. 1 pick in the draft as a refresher.

  • In 2016 the Rams traded the 15th overall pick, two 2016 second-round picks, a 2016 third-round pick, a 2017 first-round pick, and a 2017 third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans so that the Rams could select Jared Goff, the franchise quarterback they needed. The Rams got Goff, and the Titans got two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two third-round picks to move back fourteen spots in the draft.
  • In 2004 the New York Giants traded the rights to Phillip Rivers (the No. 4 overall pick), a 2004 third-round pick, a 2005 first-round pick, and a 2005 fifth-round pick for the rights to Eli Manning. The Giants wanted Manning so badly, because he was their guy at quarterback in the first round — a first round in which three QBs went on to have fine NFL careers — that they sent two first-rounders, a third-rounder, and a fifth-rounder to the Chargers to, in principle, move up three spots in the first round.
  • In 2001 the Falcons sent the San Diego Chargers the No. 5 pick, a 2001 third-rounder, and a 2005 first-round pick to move up to No. 1 to select Mike Vick. That’s two first-rounders and a third-rounder to move up four spots in the first round.

The moral of the story is teams will pay a premium to move up to No. 1, especially when the guy they think is their franchise quarterback is sitting there. Each of the three times that the No. 1 pick has been traded on draft day in the last 20-odd years, it has been for a quarterback, and it has been a premium price to pay. Full stop, plain and simple.

That’s the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft for the Bears.

Let’s dive a little deeper and talk about some of the ways this could play out in the favor of Ryan Poles and company.

Here’s what the top 15 would look like in the 2023 NFL Draft as of today with the Bears and Texans flipped with teams that could conceivably take a QB:

  1. Bears
  2. Texans
  3. Seahawks (via Broncos)
  4. Cardinals
  5. Colts
  6. Falcons
  7. Lions (via Rams)
  8. Panthers
  9. Raiders
  10. Eagles (via Saints)
  11. Texans (via Browns)
  12. Seahawks
  13. Titans
  14. Patriots
  15. Jets

As you can see, over half of the top 15 picks could be spent on one of maybe three quarterbacks with top five-to-ten billing (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis).

So, the Bears can leverage that No. 1 pick in a few ways. Here are a few possibilities:

Trade with Houston: The Bears could swap with Houston and receive the No. 2 and No. 11 picks, plus more. Or, they could move back to No. 11, giving Houston the No. 1 and No. 2 picks and command a significant haul that could include Houston’s 2024 first-round pick plus other picks this year and next year’s draft.

Trade with Seattle: Is Geno Smith the guy in Seattle? I don’t think so. They could trade the Seahawks the No. 1 pick so they could jump Houston and have their pick of the litter when it comes to quarterbacks, sending the Bears the No. 3 pick and the No. 12 pick. Much like the Houston scenario, the Bears could receive the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft, giving Seattle the No. 1 and No. 3 picks, and receive Seattle’s No. 12 pick this year, their 2024 first-round pick, plus more.

Trade with Indianapolis/Atlanta: The Colts and Falcons are in the top ten but could be left with one of the three mentioned quarterbacks if they stay where they are, making them attractive potential trade partners to leap their choice of the three. Unlike the Texans and Seahawks, they’re not working with two picks in the first 15, so these scenarios would be 2023 first-round swaps plus a juicy package of later and future selections.

Trade with Carolina/Tennessee/New York Jets: Similar to the Colts/Falcons, these three teams need a franchise quarterback, but being further back and likely shut out on each of the big three quarterbacks in the draft in their current draft position, they would have to swap ones with the Bears and pay a premium to have their pick of the quarterbacks that they otherwise won’t have a shot to draft if they stay put.

Having the No. 1 pick in the draft and not needing to draft a quarterback is a prime spot for the Bears. And it will allow Ryan Poles to pit the quarterback-needy teams behind them against each other in a bidding war for the right to draft their pick of the big three quarterbacks.

We’ve seen it done historically; this year will be no exception. While it sucks to root for losses, we’ve come this far in 2022, and with only two games left on the schedule, everyone should be rooting for the Bears to lose out and the Texans to win one of their final two games.

Finally, to Matt Eberflus’ point this week regarding the importance of winning the next two games:

  1. There is indeed value in winning those games. However, that value isn’t greater than the value of losing both of them in this particular set of circumstances.
  2. He’s an NFL head coach; what do you expect him to say?

Hop in the tank; we’re full steam ahead for the No. 1 pick.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.