The Chicago Bears have the top pick
The Chicago Bears sit at the top of a quarterback-heavy draft class. There will be plenty of teams in need of a franchise signal caller who can run and throw the football efficiently. However, general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t shown expertise in negotiations during his first season with the Bears. He’s failed to sign talented free agents and has traded away All-Pro athletes he couldn’t come to financial terms with.
While Poles hasn’t shown the finesse as an erudite social negotiator with his peers and subordinates, he has demonstrated a special skill set for demolishing a franchise for a rebuild. Poles inherited a team with enough aging stars that it would have been on the bottom rung for a Wild Card spot and traded them away or failed to re-sign players so the Bears could lose enough to stake a claim for the first pick in the 2023 draft.
Mel Kiper thinks the Bears keep the number-one pick
ESPN’s Mel Kiper recently released his mock draft. Kiper is skeptical of Poles’ ability to negotiate a deal with another team. Kiper predicts the Bears will take the “best player” of the draft, defensive tackle Jalen Carter:
I thought long and hard about a trade here, with the Colts, Raiders and Panthers as the top candidates to move up for a quarterback. And if I’m Chicago general manager Ryan Poles and I can move down a few spots, add premium picks and still get my choice of the best defensive prospects, I’d make a deal. It takes two teams to make a trade, however, and that’s never a guarantee. For now, let’s stick with the Bears keeping this pick.
Chicago’s roster needs help from top to bottom, but its defense was particularly dreadful in 2022, ranking last in the league in sacks (20) and points allowed per game (27.2). It has to be D all the way for wherever the Bears make their selection. Carter, an explosive interior pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the nod over Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. on my Big Board. He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter in the middle of this defense.
There are way too many desperate teams who want a quarterback in this draft for Poles not to be able to make a deal. The Bears could trade with the Houston Texans or Indianapolis Colts and still draft Carter while getting extra draft capital.
The Chicago Bears have a unique possibility
The Chicago Bears have not picked number one in the NFL Draft since 1947–when there were ten teams. Poles deserves to be fired on draft weekend if he can’t find a trade partner and blows franchise-changing leverage on Carter, a talented player with serious questions in his draft profile.
(Both Carter and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. had their struggles this season and might only represent a weak draft class for elite players.) Poles can’t be satisfied with cashing in one of the worst seasons in Bears history for Carter or Anderson. He needs to grab extra players to rebuild his neatly excavated roster.
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