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Bears trade back twice, still land top defender in Mel Kiper’s mock draft

All eyes are on the Chicago Bears, who hold the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft. While general manager Ryan Poles hasn’t ruled out drafting a quarterback at first overall — as he’s doing his due diligence — the expectation is Chicago will be looking to trade out of the top pick.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. unveiled his latest first-round mock draft, where he has the Bears trading back not once, but twice in the top four. They find trade partners in both the Texans (No. 2) and the Colts (No. 4), who both move up for a quarterback.

Not only does Chicago land a boatload of picks, but they still get perhaps their top prospect in Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter at fourth overall.

Like I wrote earlier, Chicago should be exceedingly happy in this scenario, trading down three spots and adding an elite defender and valuable picks. Carter is a fantastic player, a game-wrecker from the interior with a 310-pound frame. He’s the top-ranked prospect on my board. In Chicago, he’d immediately upgrade a porous defense that ranked last in the league in sacks (20). What’s not to like?

The other scenario the Bears could consider, of course, is trading Justin Fields and drafting a quarterback with the top pick. I just don’t see general manager Ryan Poles doing that, even though there’s some logic in starting over the rookie contract clock — Poles & Co. will have to make a decision on Fields’ fifth-year option after the 2023 season. I think Chicago is more likely to try to upgrade the playmakers around Fields this offseason, helping its young dual-threat signal-caller and putting him in a better position to succeed.

Poles said the ideal scenario for the Bears is to trade back from No. 1 — but it “just depends on how far back.” You’d expect that to mean Poles doesn’t want to move out of reach of landing a top defensive prospect like Carter or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

Considering the defensive line is the weakest link on the roster, Chicago couldn’t go wrong with either Carter or Anderson. The Bears need a disruptive 3-technique, as well as a dominant edge rusher. And there’s a chance they could still land one of those guys if they trade back.

Poles hinted that, if the team decides to move the No. 1 pick, a trade could happen before the start of free agency later this month.

“There are some scenarios that might benefit us to move before free agency opens potentially,” he said. “Again, I think when we get back with all the information that we’ve gathered here, I think we will have a better direction.”

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire