Unless someone unexpectedly blows Ryan Poles’ socks off, the Chicago Bears are sticking with Justin Fields at quarterback.
And yet, this week’s big announcement (Ohio State QB CJ Stroud declared for the NFL Draft) has notable ramifications for Chicago’s offseason plans. Specifically with respect to their plans for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Before he declared, rumors had been circulating that Stroud might consider a return to Ohio State. Playing another year for the Buckeyes felt like a pipe dream, one fueled by fans hoping Stroud would get one last shot at beating Michigan. And with lucrative NIL money keeping others from going pro, I couldn’t rule it out. Had Stroud stayed, it would’ve been a game-changer for the Bears. Not so much in terms of picking a QB. But more so for what they could’ve done in negotiating trades for the No. 1 overall pick. A top QB prospect staying in school could have made the value of the Bears pick even higher.
Putting a finer point on that: A draft class with only Alabama’s Bryce Young headlining the quarterbacks could have turned Poles and the Bears into kingmakers. Poles could’ve been pitting teams against each other for the right to draft Young, with no great consolation prize. The Texans, Colts, Raiders, Falcons, and Panthers are teams drafting in the top 10 who could eye a trade-up. We could even throw in teams like the Titans and Jets to give us an expanded Battle Royale. And that would’ve led to some of the most absurd rumors and offers imaginable. Oh, what could’ve been…
Instead, Stroud declared for the NFL Draft on Monday. And while his entrance takes away one strategy, the door for another opens.
Having Stroud *AND* Young in the same draft opens the door for the potential for multiple trade-backs. Want to build through the draft? One way to build a treasure trove of picks is by trading back. And if Poles is creative, he could conjure up at least two trade-backs in the upcoming draft. Think about it. A scenario exists in which the Bears can flip picks with the Texans. They own the second overall selection (thanks, Lovie!) and are starving for quarterback help. If the Bears can move back to second, they could stay there and take whichever defensive star (Will Anderson? Jalen Carter?) they want. Or they can execute a trade with another team who wants whomever they believe is the second-best QB.
This is what that hypothetical could look like:
- TRADE #1 (via USA Today’s FTW) would have the Bears getting the Texans’ second overall pick, their second-rounder (33rd overall), and a 2024 second-round pick for the first overall choice and a fourth-rounder (currently sitting at No. 103).
- TRADE #2 (inspired by a Bears-Colts proposal we were discussing last week) could feature the Bears dealing the No. 2 pick to the Colts for a package that could include the No. 4 pick, Indy’s second-rounder (36th), a 2024 first-rounder, and possibly another second-round pick in 2024.
And just like that, the Bears could have five picks in the top-70 by trading back twice. Coming away with the 4th, 33rd, 36th, 54th, and 65th picks would feel like a steal. And to think, there could conceivably be another trade-back with a team that has heart-eyes for Kentucky’s Will Levis. If that happened, then we’d be talking about having seven top-100 picks. Even maybe multiple first-rounders in the 2024 NFL Draft. It makes my head spin, but for all the right reasons.