2023 NFL mock draft roundup: Bears trade down from No. 1 pick for a haul

The Chicago Bears have wrapped the 2022 season, where, in a pleasant turn of events, they’ve landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

General manager Ryan Poles has an important decision to make with the selection. But, naturally, the expectation is Chicago will explore trading back with a team willing to pay handsomely to move up to first overall and land the quarterback of their choosing, be it Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Kentucky’s Will Levis.

That seems to the trend in the latest round of mock drafts, where the Bears absolutely clean up in several.

We’ve rounded up the latest 2023 NFL mock drafts following the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, where Chicago trades back from the first overall pick to acquire additional capital (sometimes multiple times).

PFF: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

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Pro Football Focus‘ Michael Renner has the Bears trading down from No. 1 overall with the QB-needy Colts, where Chicago selects Georgia’s Jalen Carter with the fourth overall selection.

This has turned into an absolute dream scenario for the Bears. Head coach Matt Eberflus gets the best defensive tackle prospect of the PFF college era (since 2015 draft). Carter is the three-technique they’ve been looking for, one who earned a 91.0 run-defense grade and a 90.0 pass-rushing grade in 2022.

USA Today: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

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USA Today‘s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz believes the Bears will look to trade down from first overall. But in this mock draft, Chicago stays put at No.  1 and lands the best prospect on the board in Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

Is it too early to project a trade? With Justin Fields having quelled many concerns from his rookie year and a slew of teams throughout the top 10 in need of a quarterback, Bears GM Ryan Poles could try to drum up a bidding war here. If Chicago stands pat, however, Anderson is more than deserving of the No. 1 slot. The Crimson Tide’s first two-time unanimous All-American would have had a compelling case to be the top selection in 2022 had he been eligible, and he’s drawn comparisons to Von Miller for his explosive pass-rush prowess. That package is no doubt enticing for a defense that tallied an NFL-worst 20 sacks this year – just 2 1/2 more than Anderson notched on his own in the 2021 campaign.

The Draft Network: EDGE Myles Murphy (Clemson) - TRADE! (x2)

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The Draft Network‘s Jaime Eisner has the Bears trading down twice inside the top four to land a boatload of picks.

Chicago trades their No. 1 pick to the Colts for:

  • 2023 1st-round pick (No. 4 overall), 2023 2nd-round pick (No. 36 overall), 2023 4th-round pick (No. 106 overall), 2024 1st-round pick, 2024 2nd-round pick

Then, the Bears trade that No. 4 selection to the Panthers for:

  • 2023 1st-round pick (No. 9 overall), 2023 2nd-round pick (No. 40 overall)

Eventually, Chicago selects Clemson edge rusher Myles Murphy at No. 9 overall.

The Bears have a lot of options at this point in the NFL mock draft. They could take the WR1 on their board (Quentin Johnston/Jordan Addison), they could take one of the remaining offensive linemen (Paris Johnson Jr./Peter Skoronski) to help protect Justin Fields, or they can take the last tier-one edge rusher in Myles Murphy. While new-ish GM Ryan Poles is an offensive lineman by trade, he’s valued young, star defenders above everything else so far. Maybe that trend changes, but with a tier drop at the position coming, Murphy is the pick.

CBS Sports: OT Peter Skoronski (Northwestern) - TRADE!

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CBS Sports‘ Chris Trapasso also has the Bears trading with the Colts. With the No. 4 pick, Chicago selects gets an offensive tackle in Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and a boatload of additional picks from Indianapolis.

In the slide back, the Bears get this pick — the Colts’ second and third-round picks in 2023 and a first and second and fifth in 2024. Skoronski isn’t a Tristan Wirfs-esque tackle, but has quality athleticism and tremendous pass-protection film in 2022.

Draft Wire: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

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Draft Wire‘s Luke Easterling has Chicago trading back from No. 1 with Indianapolis. With that fourth overall pick, the Bears still manage to land a top defensive talent in Carter (and additional picks).

This is an ideal scenario for the Bears, who get a massive haul of additional draft picks to move down a few spots, and still end up with one of the prospects they could have happily taken at No. 1 overall. Carter is a disruptive force at the point of attack, and would make an immediate impact for a defensive front desperate for playmakers.

Touchdown Wire: OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) and WR Jalin Hyatt (Tennessee) - TRADE!

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Touchdown Wire‘s Doug Farrar has the Bears trading back from within the division with the Lions. But in order for that to happen, Detroit offers up three first-round picks to Chicago, including two in 2023.

Here, the Lions give up the sixth overall pick (which they got from the Los Angeles Rams along with Goff in the Matthew Stafford trade), and their own 18th pick, along with their 2024 first-round pick, for the privilege of moving up to first overall and taking Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

With the No. 6 pick, the Bears select Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. Then, with the No. 18 selection, Chicago drafts Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt.

NBC Sports Chicago: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) - TRADE!

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NBC Sports Chicago‘s Josh Schrock has the Bears trading back with the Colts, where they ultimately get Anderson at No. 4 overall (as well as a slew of picks).

In the most unsurprising move of the offseason, Poles plays the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans against each other to get maximum value for the No. 1 pick.

In the end, Colts general manager Chris Ballard forks over the No. 4 and No. 36 pick in the 2023 draft, the Colts’ 2024 first-round pick, and 2024 second-round pick for the No. 1 pick.

The Bears slide down to No. 4 and watch Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud go 1 and 2 before the Arizona Cardinals select Jalen Carter at No. 3.

This leaves Poles with a no-brainer decision, grabbing Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson to be the lynchpin of the Bears’ new-look defensive line.

Scouts believe Anderson has a Von Miller-level ceiling at the NFL. He can be flat-out unblockable at times and was arguably the best player in college football over the past two seasons.

The 33rd Team: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

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The 33rd Team has the Bears staying put at No. 1 in this mock, but they believe Chicago will trade back if they find a suitor. With that top selection, the Bears land Anderson.

If a team covets one of the top quarterbacks, there is a good chance the Bears will trade out of this spot. However, if they  make this selection, they need to get a playmaker on defense who can get to the quarterback. Even though Anderson’s  statistics were down this season after having 17.5 sacks and 31 tackles for a loss as a sophomore in 2021, he is a legitimate top-tier playmaker who still produced 10 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 2022.

Pro Football Network: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

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Pro Football Network‘s Ben Rolfe points out the Bears most likely will trade this No. 1 pick. But they’re not doing any trades in this mock draft. Hence, Chicago selects Anderson with the top selection.

In all likelihood, we will see this pick traded by the Chicago Bears, but in this mock, we have not done any trades. The Bears seem unlikely to go for a QB with Justin Fields. Therefore, in this scenario, there are a couple of potential options at EDGE for the Bears if that is the direction they decide to go. With Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn gone in the last 12 months, either Will Anderson Jr. or Myles Murphy is in play here.

In terms of their fantasy value in IDP leagues, a lot will depend on where these EDGE prospects get drafted and the scheme they end up playing in. For example, Aidan Hutchison was drafted by the Detroit Lions, classed as a defensive end, and finished 26th at the position in terms of PPG as a rookie. In contrast, Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was classed as a linebacker on the New York Giants, averaged more PPG than Hutchison but finished as the LB60 in PPG.

For the Bears’, this is tricky. They used both 4-3 and 3-4 concepts last year, so their positional assignment could vary from league to league. Before selecting EDGE players in your rookie draft, check out your league’s specific rules.

CBS Sports: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia)

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CBS Sports‘ Ryan Wilson also has Chicago staying put at No. 1 overall in this mock. But instead of Anderson, the Bears draft Carter to solidify the three-technique spot.

The Bears appear to be a team headed in the right direction (Week 18 notwithstanding) in large part because they’ve found their franchise QB in Justin Fields. But there’s a lot of work to do on the other side of the ball after moving on from Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. Both Jalen Carter and Will Anderson Jr. could be options here, and both are layup selections. Or the team could choose to trade out of the No. 1 pick should there be interest from QB-needy teams looking to move up.

Sporting News: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

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Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer has Chicago picking No. 1 overall, although he admits trading back is an option. But if the Bears stay, they select Anderson to shore up a weak pass rush.

The Bears, picking first overall for the first time since 1947, shouldn’t need to consider QB with the passing and running ceiling of big-armed Justin Fields. The ideal scenario is trading down for extra first-down selection power with a team looking to jump the Texans for a particular franchise QB. If the Bears stay, they should look to get familiar defensive pop.

Getting this cornerstone pass rusher and active all-around playmaker is great call. Anderson would give them a new Khalil Mack after also saying goodbye to Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith on the second level.

Bleacher Report: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

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Bleacher Report has the Bears helping Justin Fields by going the defensive route with Anderson at No. 1 overall.

The Chicago Bears need to do everything in their power this offseason to build around their electrifying quarterback, Justin Fields. Yet that approach shouldn’t blind the team to what else is available.

With the first overall pick, the Bears are better positioned to select an elite defensive talent rather than make a slight reach for someone to help Fields on the other side of the ball.

Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. is the top-ranked prospect for the entire 2023 class. Had he been eligible, his name would have likely been called with the No. 1 pick in the ’22 draft. With suitors potentially clamoring to trade up and select one of the quarterback prospects, the Bears should still stand pat and land a defensive game-wrecker of the highest order.

Bears Wire: WR Quentin Johnston (TCU) - TRADE!

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Bears Wire‘s Nate Atkins has Chicago trading back from No. 1 with division rivals, the Lions. As a result, the Bears get six picks:

  • 2023 First-Round Pick (No. 6)

  • 2023 Second-Round Pick (No. 49)

  • 2023 Second-Round Pick (No. 59)

  • 2023 Third-Round Pick (No. 81)

  • 2024 First-Round Pick

  • 2024 Fifth-Round Pick

With that No. 6 selection, Chicago targets offense with TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston.

At 6’3″ and 193 pounds, Johnston has tremendous size with 4.4 speed. A prototypical NFL receiver. The TCU prospect is a tremendous deep and jump ball threat who can also generate yards after the catch.

The combination of Chase Claypool and Johnston will create two big-body, red-zone threats for Fields.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire