Brad Biggs’ NFL mock draft: Proposing a trade down for Bears and GM Ryan Poles

Detroit is the host of the NFL draft beginning April 25, and Lions fans will have an in-person opportunity to see the NFC North rival Chicago Bears be the talk of Round 1.

The Bears more than make up for the fact they own only four total picks as their first two are Nos. 1 and 9. That puts general manager Ryan Poles in position to dramatically upgrade the roster of a team that finished 7-10 in 2023, five games behind the Lions.

It’s a foregone conclusion the Bears will choose USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the top pick. Poles can offset that lack of intrigue when it comes to his choice at No. 9.

Wide receiver? Offensive tackle? Edge rusher? Trade down?

In mock draft 3.0, we propose a trade down for Poles that would net the Bears a third-round selection.

1. Bears (from Carolina Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The Bears hosted Williams on an official visit two weeks ago, and barring something totally unexpected, this selection is a fait accompli. Williams has no other known visits and the Bears were positively smitten with him coming out of his pro day workout last month. This selection inspires confidence that this mock draft will finish at least 1 for 32.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The Commanders are expected to begin the Adam Peters/Dan Quinn era by selecting a quarterback, a problematic position for a very long time. Daniels’ ascent at LSU makes him a solid choice if the Commanders believe he will do a better job of getting rid of the ball and not taking as many hits, something he had a tendency to do in college.

3. New England Patriots: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Eliot Wolf is calling the shots in the Patriots draft room, and his Hall of Fame father, Ron, had a knack for selecting quarterbacks with the Green Bay Packers. With Brett Favre on the roster in the 1990s, Ron Wolf chose six quarterbacks over seven consecutive drafts, including Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks. It stands to reason that Eliot Wolf will seek a quarterback for the Patriots, and McCarthy’s tip-top intangibles make him the pick.

4. Minnesota Vikings (projected trade with Arizona Cardinals): Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

The Vikings are lurking after acquiring the No. 23 pick from the Houston Texans, and they can bundle that with their pick at No. 11 to move up. They had a private workout with Jayden Daniels last week and are exploring all of the QB options after Caleb Williams.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Jim Harbaugh has said this will be like the first pick in the draft if four quarterbacks come off the board ahead of the Chargers. The hunch is they would be open to moving down, but if they have to stay put, choosing an offensive lineman seems to fit the new coach.

6. New York Giants: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Giants aren’t selecting high enough to get a quarterback and desperately need a playmaker for Daniel Jones or Drew Lock. That puts them in a good spot to nab Harrison and start a run on wide receivers in a draft full of intriguing options.

7. Tennessee Titans: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Titans paid big for center Lloyd Cushenberry in free agency, and after drafting Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski in the first round a year ago, they can continue the makeover of their line by selecting Fuaga, who can play a variety of positions.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Dallas Turner, edge, Alabama

A wide receiver would be tempting and the Falcons also could look to trade down a few slots. But they really need to fortify a lackluster pass rush, and Turner is an explosive option as the first defensive player off the board.

9. Cardinals (projected trade with Bears): Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

For the crowd hoping to see GM Ryan Poles trade down, the Bears drop two spots in a deal with the Cardinals, who use one of the picks they received in the projected trade with the Vikings. The Cardinals need to replace Hollywood Brown, and Nabers would be a big-time target for Kyler Murray.

10. New York Jets: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The Jets were very busy in free agency adding offensive linemen to protect Aaron Rodgers. Now they’re able to get one of the best receivers in the draft. Odunze would be a perfect match with Garrett Wilson, providing Rodgers with another weapon.

11. Bears (projected trade with Cardinals from Vikings): Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

The Bears could be leaning offense with their second pick after Caleb Williams, and that means a choice between a receiver and protection for the quarterback. Fautanu is athletic and moves well and could step in as the Day 1 starter at left tackle, giving the Bears young bookend tackles and an upgrade over Braxton Jones.

12. Denver Broncos: Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

GM George Paton could use some more picks and might want to trade down into a position to consider Oregon QB Bo Nix. If he stays put, the Broncos badly need an edge rusher and Verse is a hard-nosed player who would fit nicely. The Broncos might need to utilize future picks to get in a spot to find a quarterback for second-year coach Sean Payton.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Raiders have an explosive front after signing defensive tackle Christian Wilkins to play alongside Maxx Crosby. Arnold would help boost a suspect secondary that has been plagued by busted picks in recent seasons.

14. New Orleans Saints: Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

The Saints could be in the market for an offensive lineman as they’re aging up front. They also could target Murphy, an explosive interior defender who, if he develops, could transform their front seven.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

The Colts were relatively quiet in free agency and their biggest need is at cornerback. If you don’t get one early, it’s tough to find a solid starter. Mitchell has been a rising star since the Senior Bowl.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

GM John Schneider has been pretty open that the Seahawks have needs in the trenches. Fortunately for them, it’s a deep draft at the position and Fashanu is a good talent as the fourth lineman off the board.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

Cornerback hasn’t been talked about a lot as a strength in this draft, but the premium on the position always tends to push corners up draft boards. DeJean is finally healthy and would be a solid pick for the Jaguars back end.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Some project Bowers to go higher, but tight ends generally are not premium picks. If he makes it this far, he’s a great new weapon for QB Joe Burrow that can occupy the middle of the field with the ability to run after the catch.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Laiatu Latu, edge, UCLA

Losing DT Aaron Donald to retirement puts a massive hole in the middle of Sean McVay’s defense. It’s not a great draft for interior linemen, but the Rams can start rebuilding their pass rush by staying local with Latu, who has advanced pass-rushing moves for a rookie prospect.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

The Steelers need to enhance their offensive line and Barton is an intriguing option who profiles as a high-level guard or center. A left tackle in college, he should be a standout starter on the inside in the NFL.

21. Miami Dolphins: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

The Dolphins have a real need for pass-rushing talent with their veteran options coming off serious injuries last season. They might have to trade up to land a pass rusher to their liking. If they stay put, they can work on protecting QB Tua Tagovailoa with Powers-Johnson, who can play any of the three interior spots.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

The Eagles have a knack for landing offensive linemen a year before they need them. They did pretty well when they picked right tackle Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma with the No. 4 pick in 2013, and Guyton has massive size (6-7¾, 322) and the ability to plug in at that position in the near future.

23. Cardinals (projected trade with Vikings from Texans): Chop Robinson, edge, Penn State

The Cardinals need help all over the place. They bought some defensive tackles in free agency and now they get Robinson, who tested well at the combine and would provide some juice up front.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

It has been an odd offseason in Dallas with way more losses than additions in free agency. The Cowboys were hit particularly hard up front on offense and need youth. Mims is a massive (6-8, 340) and long right tackle who should be able to help immediately.

25. Green Bay Packers: Darius Robinson, DL, Missouri

The Packers could be in the market for a cornerback here but they have a history of being proactive in building depth on the defensive line. Robinson is a physical performer who has the versatility to play a couple of spots.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

The Bucs need help on the edge, but it’s not a great draft class there. They’re also thin at cornerback. Enter Wiggins, who can absolutely fly.

27. Cardinals (from Texans): Ennis Rakestraw, CB, Missouri

With three first-round picks in this mock draft, the Cardinals have a chance to get a lot of help. Cornerback is another position of need and Rakestraw rated well against top competition in the SEC. This could be a trade-out spot if a team is looking to climb up for a quarterback or wide receiver.

28. Buffalo Bills: Brian Thomas, WR, LSU

Gabriel Davis exited via free agency and the Bills followed that up by trading Stefon Diggs to the Texans. They need help at wide receiver and might need to double down on the position. The good news is they probably can stay put and get a strong prospect such as Thomas.

29. Detroit Lions: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Cornerback already looked like a potential need for the Lions, and then veteran Cameron Sutton went on the run from the law and wound up getting released before he finally turned himself in to authorities. Don’t be surprised if GM Brad Holmes looks to trade up in search of a cornerback. If he stays put, perhaps he lands McKinstry.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

How many times have we been here, saying the Ravens need to get Lamar Jackson help on the outside? Worthy can absolutely scoot and it’s interesting to project his ability in that offense. Zay Flowers is a versatile target but Jackson doesn’t have a vertical threat. That’s precisely what Worthy would be.

31. San Francisco 49ers: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The 49ers will need to replace Trent Williams in the near future. For the time being, they need a right tackle and Latham would be a terrific upgrade for Kyle Shanahan’s running game and would help keep heat off QB Brock Purdy.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

If an offensive tackle slides to the end of Round 1, it’s the kind of pick you could see Andy Reid pushing for. But the chance to get a versatile and talented wide receiver for Patrick Mahomes cannot be overlooked. In a lot of drafts, Mitchell would go considerably higher.