In a Draft Class This Loaded with D-Line Studs, Trading Down Isn’t All That Scary
Let’s get this out of the way from the top. It sounds like the Bears are indeed planning to trade the first overall pick. ESPN’s Adam Schefter predicts the No. 1 pick will net the Bears “a small fortune” in a trade. Meanwhile, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport thinks Chicago would do well by drafting the best defensive player available first overall.
GM Ryan Poles has options. And with 65 days to go until the 2023 NFL Draft, I expect this front office to explore them all before arriving at a destination.
But there is one thing that seems to hold up folks when it comes to discussing what the Bears should do with the pick. Because while I think a healthy chunk of fans are on board with trading down and adding a slew of picks, there is some hesitation. And much of it comes along with the idea of trading too far down. Ideally, a trade-down leaves the Bears still well-positioned to draft an impact defender. On the other side of that coin, a worst-case scenario would be trading back and losing out on that type of player. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely understand those concerns. I share them. But maybe we shouldn’t be all too worried. Let me explain by using a recent mock draft.
Something caught my eye about NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah dropping his second mock draft today. Let me know if/when you see it, too:
No, it wasn’t the Bears standing pat and taking Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. And it wasn’t even that Alabama ace edge defender Will Anderson Jr. was the *SECOND* defensive end off the board. Instead, it was this: There are five defensive linemen going off the board in the first eight picks.
This number had my eyes popping out of my head like I was in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Now, it shouldn’t change how the Bears approach trade-down options. But this mock draft opens my mind to be more willing to move down further than I previously would’ve wanted. Again, it is still ideal to move back and still be in a place to take Carter or Anderson. Those two are atop the board for a reason. But Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson is an interesting prospect. And the same can be said about Clemson’s Myles Murphy and Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness.
And then there is this: Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects list includes 11 edge defenders and three defensive tackles. Altogether, we’re looking at 14 of the 50 best draft-eligible prospects playing in the defensive trenches. That isn’t inconsequential. In fact, it has me thinking about the possibility of the Bears getting value on that side of the ball on Day 2 of the draft. Maybe it comes in the form of a different edge rusher than the ones we’ve been discussing. Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Kansas State), BJ Ojulari (LSU), and Tuli Tuipulotu (USC) are top second-tier prospects. Perhaps a defensive tackle such as Bryan Bresee (Clemson) or Mazi Smith (Michigan) is a potential match. All in all, I like that we’re discovering alternative paths to travel. Knowledge is power, right?
Again, let me be clear. My preference would be to see the Bears trade their first pick and collect a king’s ransom in draft choices. And then still take the best defender available with a premier draft pick. However, seeing that there are other intriguing options has me willing to consider alternatives. This isn’t to say that I’m jumping at what is behind the mystery door. Instead, I’m just saying that I’m not afraid of what is behind it.