Bears trade No. 1 pick, keep Justin Fields in latest mock draft

Bears trade No. 1 pick, keep Justin Fields in latest mock draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Well, the day of reckoning for unsuccessful coaches and general managers “Black Monday” morphed into “Black Tuesday,” “Black Wednesday,” and now “Black Thursday” with the recent release of former Patriots’ head coach, Bill Belichick. In addition to several head coaches being fired, the most decorated college head coach over the past 25 years, Nick Saban, unexpectedly retired.

What kinda crazy world do we live in where pro (Belichick: 6 Super Bowls) and college football’s (Saban: 7 National Championships) most decorated head coaches leave the game within hours of one another? While their football futures are uncertain, what is certain is that 2024 will be a year of uncommon and unpredictable change.

NOTE: For the draft order, we used's projected draft order.

1. Atlanta Falcons (via Chicago, via Carolina): QB - Caleb Williams, USC

Yes, finally, our mock drafts will explore potential trades going forward, like this one between the Bears and Falcons. Amidst all the coaching turmoil this week, Chicago brass chose to stand firm behind its head coach, Matt Eberflus. Despite a total of 10 wins in two seasons, the Bears retained Eberflus, who has two years remaining on his contract.

Needing to win sooner than later, it’s highly possible Chicago will keep incumbent quarterback Justin Fields and decide to trade the number one overall pick. The Falcons potentially offer more assets than any other desperate-for-quarterback team and target the most dynamic playmaker in the draft, Caleb Williams.

2. Washington Commanders: QB - Jayden Daniels, LSU

Maybe the new owners in Washington will decide to be prudent and choose to take arguably the best dual-threat from this draft class. Throughout the arduous and meticulous draft process, it’s possible Daniels (2023 Heisman Trophy Winner) emerges as a better pro option than North Carolina’s Drake Maye. This past season, Daniels passed for 3812 passing yards with 40 touchdown passes while running for 1134 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores.

3. New England Patriots: QB - Drake Maye, North Carolina

Now that future Hall-of-Fame head coach Bill Belichick is no longer making decisions for the Patriots, it’s uncertain who will helm this proud organization. What is likely, however, is that if Maye falls into New England’s lap, the new regime will quickly select this uber-talented passer.

4. Arizona Cardinals: WR - Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Unless some team blows away Arizona’s front office or another organization moves in front of the Cardinals, it’s more likely than not they will select Harrison. He is a phenomenal talent with stratospheric potential and little, if any, downside to his game. A tremendous downfield weapon, Harrison averaged 16.9 yards per catch on 155 career receptions with 31 receiving scores.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia

Bowers possesses an enviable blend of size, power, athleticism, and seam-splitting speed that most defenses struggle game planning against. Bowers is an offensive chess piece that lines up essentially anywhere on the field. Whether he’s blocking along the line of scrimmage, positioned in the slot, or split wide as a boundary receiver, Bowers is a force-multiplying factor on potentially every offensive snap of the ball.

6. New York Giants: OT - Joe Alt, Notre Dame

Alt is a fluid-moving blocker whose balanced movements, technique, and wide base make him difficult to maneuver by defenders rushing the passer. Over the last two seasons, including 1600 plus snaps, he only surrendered one quarterback sack.

7. Tennessee Titans: CB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

Depending on who the new head coach will be, Tennessee may choose to pursue an offensively talented prospect instead of a high-end defender like McKinstry. However, if he is the first cornerback off the board, the Titans will be getting a competitive player who excels at disrupting route tempos and negatively affecting the rhythm of any team’s passing attack.

8. Chicago Bears (via Atlanta): WR - Rome Ondunze, Washington

If a trade between Chicago and Atlanta happens, undoubtedly, the Bears will have missed an opportunity to draft potential can’t-miss prospect Marvin Harrison Jr. Should the Bears miss on acquiring Harrison, they could position themselves to take Odunze. The consensus All-American from Washington is a versatile receiver with size (6-3 215 lbs}, speed (4.3 40-time), and route running efficiency (81 receptions / 13 TDs) comparable to many number-one receivers currently in the NFL.

9. Chicago Bears: Edge - Laiatu Latu, UCLA

How impressive would it be if Bears' general manager Ryan Poles successfully maneuvered Chicago into having back-to-back picks within the top 10 spots of the draft? Potentially securing consecutive picks affords Poles an opportunity to select exactly who he wants without another team interfering. An athletic force multiplier, the six-foot-four, 265-pound Latu is a tremendous pass rusher with good acceleration and closing speed. He finished the 2023 campaign as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, having generated 21.5 tackles for loss along with 13 sacks.

10. New York Jets: OT - Olu Fashanu, Penn State

The Jets' embattled offensive line has led to seasons of inconsistent pass protection and possibly indirectly contributed to four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers' Achilles injury. There’s a strong likelihood that New York will target a strong pass blocker in the upcoming draft. Fashanu is surprisingly athletic for his size (6 '6, 321 lbs), exhibiting fluid agility and ability to effortlessly flip his hips when blocking speed rushers.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Edge - Dallas Turner, Alabama

Both pass-rushing ends, Danielle Hunter (17 million) and Marcus Davenport (13 million), are unrestricted free agents. It's possible the Vikings believe they’re ready to win now and re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins instead of drafting a new playcaller. Should Minnesota retain Cousins, paying him suggests there won’t be enough money to sign one or both veteran edge rushers. Drafting Turner, an exceptional athlete with next-level acceleration and playmaking skills, makes sense.

12. Denver Broncos: QB - Bo Nix, Oregon

Trading for Russell Wilson in 2022 and then hiring head coach Sean Payton in 2023 to create a championship culture, culminated in two years of overspending and futility (13-21 record). Payton won the “power struggle” over Wilson, essentially forcing him out of Denver, yet still needs to find a replacement at quarterback. Nix led the nation in pass completion percentage (77.4) and threw 45 touchdowns to just three interceptions on the season.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: CB - Nate Wiggins, Clemson

Wiggins is a long and lean pass defender with quick feet but plays with patience when tracking receivers. He plays with excellent spatial awareness and a knack for turning interceptions into pick-six scores. Two of Wiggins’ three career interceptions both resulted in touchdowns totaling 144 yards.

14. New Orleans Saints: DL - Jer’ Zhan Newton, Illinois

Newton clearly stood apart from his peers within the conference by being named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year. Newton displays some alignment versatility but is better suited as a 3-technique defensive lineman whose quickness and leveraged strength win consistently at the point of attack. A tireless defender, Newton’s relentlessness on the field should translate well at the NFL level.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Edge - Jared Verse, Florida State

Verse competes with a tenacity that matches his production over the past two seasons at Florida State. His 29.5 tackles for loss and consecutive seasons of registering nine sacks illustrate how effective and impactful he can be for a defense.

16. Seattle Seahawks: QB - Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Seattle’s lone Super Bowl-winning head coach, Pete Carroll (XLVIII), moves into the front office as the team’s new executive vice president and advisor. Factoring in Carroll’s departure from coaching and the fact that incumbent quarterback Geno Smith will be a free agent in 2025, targeting a gifted passer like Penix (Heisman Runner-Up) is an intriguing option.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR - Malik Nabers, LSU

Currently, Jacksonville has a talented trio of pass catchers, but Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones are almost 30 years old and Ridley is currently an unrestricted free agent. Should the Jaguars select Nabers, they’ll be acquiring a sure-handed receiver who runs crisp routes. Nabers’ sneaky speed and subtle moves create an organic separation that should translate well at the NFL level.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: WR - Keon Coleman, Florida State

Coleman caught 50 passes and averaged 13.2 yards per reception while having secured 11 touchdown passes by season’s end. So, with Cincinnati wideouts Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins being unrestricted free agents, it's possible the frugal Bengals will only re-sign one of the two. Coleman’s size, youth and affordability potentially make him an ideal replacement for either receiver.

19. Green Bay Packers: OL - Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Fuaga is a versatile lineman whose ability to play either as a guard or tackle increases his value among many NFL scouts. According to PFF metrics, he is the second-highest-ranked offensive tackle, combining run and pass blocking for an 88.9 rating. In over 1500 plus snaps, Fuaga has never surrendered a sack and provides immediate impact as a run-blocking mauler.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

The Bucs are mired in salary cap restructuring mode and may not be able to afford perennial 1,000-yard receiver Mike Evans. Thomas is another productive receiver from LSU, having caught 68 passes for 1177 yards and 17 touchdowns this past season. An explosive talent with size (6’4” - 204 lbs), should Thomas run well at the NFL combine, he may find himself entrenched as a first-round prospect.

21. Arizona Cardinals (via Houston): DB - Cooper DeJean, Iowa

DeJean flashes cornerback coverage skills with the surveying vision and physicality of a free safety. Targeting an alignment versatile defensive back like DeJean may create favorable matchup scenarios for Arizona’s secondary unit. Over his last 23 games played, DeJean intercepted seven passes, having returned three of them for touchdowns.

22. Los Angeles Rams: Edge - Bralen Trice, Washington

The fact that the Rams used six-foot-four, 310-pound Michael Hoecht effectively as an edge rusher (six sacks / seven tackles for loss / 11 quarterback hits) is a testament to his athleticism and the coaches’ creativity. Imagine if Hoecht utilized his quickness and size on the defensive line and was paired on the same side with an elite pass-rushing prospect like Trice. In his last 28 games, Trice accounted for 23.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT - Amarius Mims, Georgia

Mims plays to his size, showcasing an unapologetic mean streak backed with powerful arms and a balanced base. The Steelers have been plagued with inconsistent line play over the past several seasons, so possibly acquiring a player who moves bodies out of the way might work well in the Steel City.

24. Miami Dolphins: OL - Troy Fautanu, Washington

Protecting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is vital to the continued growth and success of one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL. Fautanu’s burst, agility, and overall quickness allow him to move rapidly into the second level of defense. His rugged physicality and relentless motor make him ideal in most pro schemes.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: CB - Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Arnold logged a productive season, registering 61 tackles with 11 passes defended and five interceptions for the Crimson Tide. Having learned under Nick Saban, arguably the best college coach of all time and defensive specialist, Arnold is NFL-ready and a potential day-one starter.

26. Kansas City Chiefs: OT - Jordan Morgan, Arizona

Morgan plays like an experienced veteran and is rarely fooled or taken unaware by stunts and blitzes. An above-average athlete, he possesses the requisite height (6’5”), weight (325 lbs), and length to effectively stymie pass rushers. A quick puncher, Morgan tends to set an aggressive tone when pass-blocking and opening running lanes.

27. Houston Texans [via - Cleveland]: DL - Leonard Taylor III, Miami (FL)

Head coach DeMeco Ryans is a former inside linebacker (Texans) and coached within a 49ers system that believed in rotational depth along its defensive front line. Taylor is a disruptive, thick-bodied interior defender with a good initial burst off the snap of the ball. His ability to shed blocks and penetrate behind the offensive line is evident by his career with 22.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

28. Detroit Lions: Edge - Demeioun “Chop” Robinson, Penn State

The Lions' inconsistent pass rush depends too heavily on last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, Aiden Hutchinson. As a result, Detroit’s defense struggles to generate enough pressure in order to close out opposing offenses. Robinson is an explosive talent whose quick, violent hands and pliable strength make him difficult to contain off the edge.

29. Buffalo Bills: Edge - J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State

Tuimoloau is a game-wrecking edge rusher who is just grazing the tip of his potential. His ability to diagnose screen-plays is advanced, as is his knack for penetrating behind offensive lines. Impressively, Tuimoloau registered 22 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and seven passes defended in just 37 games played.

30. Dallas Cowboys: CB - Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Mitchell, a six-foot, 196-pound corner from Toledo, is one of the best defensive backs and most anonymous defenders in the country. He effectively dominated the MAC Conference these past two seasons, having posted 82 tackles, 37 pass deflections, and six interceptions (two returned for scores).

31. San Francisco 49ers: S - Kamren Kinchens, Miami (FL)

Kinchens is the type of versatile defensive back San Francisco covets. An intelligent surveyor of the field, Kinchens’ instincts and preparation are integral to his success. In his last 22 games played, Kinchens has tabulated 118 total tackles with 11 interceptions and 11 defended passes.

32. Baltimore Ravens: WR - Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State

If Egbuka is available for the Ravens, they should pounce on the opportunity to draft and pair him with rookie phenom, Zay Flowers. Over the past several years, under the tutelage of former Buckeyes’ wide receiver coach Brian Hartline, Ohio State wideouts have excelled in the pros. Egbuka may possess the most untapped potential of them all.

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