Bears' Rome Odunze draft dream could be put in peril by dark horse trade teams

Bears' Rome Odunze draft dream could be put in peril by dark horse trade teams originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

In one week, the Bears will turn in a card with Caleb Williams' name, making the USC quarterback the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

General manager Ryan Poles will go back on the clock eight picks later at No. 9 with several different avenues to travel.

The Bears split into three teams to discuss the merits of using their second first-round pick on a wide receiver, a left tackle, or a defensive end. Poles has acknowledged that he will entertain trading down from nine to accumulate more picks.

But the best-case scenario for the Bears is that Washington star wide receiver Rome Odunze falls into their laps at nine. That would allow them to add a receiver, which many scouts believe is the best in a loaded class, to a receiving corps that already includes DJ Moore and Keenan Allen.

It's easy to see Odunze being available at No. 9. If four quarterbacks, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers go off the board in the first eight, the Bears would need a combination of Joe Alt, a defensive end, or a fifth quarterback to be taken at seven and eight to get their chance at Odunze.

But the Bears might have to move up to secure a sliding Odunze's services as several teams lurk as potential trade-up candidates who could leapfrog the Bears and nab the Washington star.

The first is the New York Jets, who sit one slot behind the Bears at No. 9. The Jets have been tied to Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and several offensive tackles. However, NFL Media's draft expert Daniel Jeremiah believes New York could easily move from 10 to 8 to steal Odunze should he start to fall.

"If Odunze --we talked about him potentially being in Chicago, if he gets to 8, I could make a strong argument that the Jets could make an easy, painless flip with Atlanta, where Atlanta goes back to 10, they could leapfrog Chicago and take Odunze, and it wouldn't cost them much," Jeremiah said Wednesday on a conference call. "You give them your 3, they give you a 4. You could have other picks involved there. You wouldn't necessarily lose a pick, you could swap a pick."

Another dark horse trade-up team is the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals currently sit at No. 4, but general manager Monti Ossenfort loves to move around. The Minnesota Vikings own the No. 11 and No. 23 overall picks and are interested in moving up for one of the top four quarterbacks.

There's a belief in league circles that the Cardinals could move down initially via trade with the Vikings but jump back up to No. 8 should one of the top three receivers, likely Odunze, fall out of the top seven.

The New Orleans Saints are also believed to be interested in moving up for the right player, with a wide receiver or a tackle viewed as the likely target.

The Atlanta Falcons own the No. 8 pick and are believed to be targeting a pass rusher in the first round.

Alabama's Dallas Turner, Florida State's Jared Verse, and UCLA's Laiatu Latu are the cream of the edge-rushing crop, but none are top-10 locks. A good but not great edge rusher class could make the Falcons more interested in sliding down and adding to their draft-pick arsenal.

If Odunze starts to slide, there will be no shortage of teams interested in trying to move up to grab him.

The Bears will face a dilemma at No. 9.

Poles has quickly turned over the roster, but several holes exist. The Bears need another wide receiver, an edge rusher, interior offensive line depth, a safety, and could be in the market for a starting-caliber left tackle.

The Bears only have two picks after one and nine, so moving down to add extra picks makes sense. But the Bears have a chance to add a true blue-chip player at No. 9 and should focus more on adding an A-plus talent instead of several B talents.

Odunze should be their target at nine.

But if he's the player the Bears covet, Poles might need to move up to ensure the Jets, Cardinals, or another darkhorse team doesn't spoil his grand plan.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.