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Bears trade back in first round in latest 2024 NFL mock draft

Bears trade back in first round in latest 2024 NFL mock draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The NFL will descend on Indianapolis on Tuesday to meet the top prospects in this year’s draft at the Combine. Over the course of the week, teams will gather valuable information on players and draft boards will start to come together. New draft darlings will emerge. Others will see their draft stock fall.

But we don’t know how things will change at the Combine just yet, so let’s take a moment to timestamp where things stand with a pre-Combine mock draft.

As always, this mock draft is not an attempt to predict what the Bears will actually do when they’re back in the War Room next offseason. That’s impossible. Nor is it meant as a recommendation of what the Bears should do. This mock draft is meant to be a fun way to discuss wild ideas, dig into some of the intriguing college prospects this season, and project how those players may fit in Chicago.

NO. 1: CALEB WILLIAMS - QUARTERBACK - USC

We’ve written about Williams a lot already. If you haven’t seen the coverage, check it out here. Simply put, consensus says Williams is a nearly perfect quarterback prospect. Might be hard for GM Ryan Poles to pass on the opportunity, no matter what he thinks of Justin Fields.

TRADE! BEARS SEND NO. 9 AND NO. 111 PICKS TO RAIDERS IN EXCHANGE FOR NO. 13 AND NO. 44 PICKS.

By the time the Bears are on the clock for their second first-round pick, there are still many players left on their big board that they’d be happy to add to the team. So Poles takes advantage of the opportunity by sliding back a few spots and adding a second-round pick in the process.

NO. 13: BROCK BOWERS - TIGHT END - GEORGIA

The Bears need a big bodied pass catcher to complement DJ Moore in the offense. They could use another tight end, too. Bowers checks both of those boxes. He’s not as well-known for his blocking, but that doesn’t matter for the Bears’ purposes. Cole Kmet has developed so much in that area, that they can use Bowers as a monster slot receiver or some additional muscle.

In three seasons, Bowers caught 175 balls for 2,538 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has five rushing touchdowns to his name, too. Bowers won the John Mackey award in both 2023 and 2022, which recognizes the best tight end in the nation. He’s the only player to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

NO. 44: BRALEN TRICE - DEFENSIVE END - WASHINGTON

Trice is a big, strong dude who measures at 6’4”, 274 lbs with a high motor. The blend of traits alone is enough to tempt the Bears, who love athletic players with impressive measurables, but Trice has the production to match the traits. Over the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Trice had 16 sacks and 23.5 TFL. According to PFF, he led the country in pressures in each of those seasons, too.

NO. 75: KRIS JENKINS - DEFENSIVE TACKLE - MICHIGAN

That’s not déjà vu you’re experiencing. Kris Jenkins is the son of the former Panthers All-Pro defensive tackle with the same name. The younger Jenkins isn’t quite as big as his dad, but he’s still a physical specimen and scouts say his athletic prowess should intrigue NFL teams. The Bears will specifically love Jenkins’ prowess against the run. Draft experts believe he’s a bit raw, but since Gervon Dexter grew immensely last year, the Bears can spend a top-100 pick on Jenkins’ upside as a second-wave tackle.

NO. 123: BRENDAN RICE - WIDE RECEIVER - USC

The Bears draft another player with an elite NFL pedigree with Rice, the son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. They also give their new QB a familiar face from college. Rice joined the Trojans last season and caught 45 passes for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s 6’3”, which complements DJ Moore’s 5’11” frame well. He also played primarily on the outside last season, giving the Bears a clear second outside receiver to go with Bowers who can dominate in the middle. Like his dad, Rice was one of the more sure-handed receivers in college last year, with just a 4.3% drop rate per PFF.

NO. 143: TYKEE SMITH - SAFETY - GEORGIA

Just a few picks after adding their second Trojan, the Bears add their second Bulldog. Smith played a bunch in the box at Georgia, but he’s got the playmaking skills to thrive in the back of the defense where the Bears will need him since Eddie Jackson is gone. Smith intercepted four passes last season at Georgia. Scouts love his physicality and strong tackling, which are musts for Matt Eberflus as well. We know the Bears love Senior Bowl standouts, and Smith excelled at the all-important All-Star game earlier this year, too. He practiced well and had three PBUs in the game, which led to him earning MVP honors for his team.

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