NFL mock draft roundup: Bears draft picks, prospects, analysis

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NFL mock draft roundup: Bears draft picks, prospects, analysis originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears fell to a 3-9 record last Sunday with a loss to the New York Jets. With that, the team stepped into the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft (as of this writing).

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Since the season is veering off course and taking a decline – not to mention the season-ending injuries to Darnell Mooney and potentially Eddie Jackson – the onus of the Bears 2023 is entirely placed on the highly anticipated offseason.

The team's first-round pick should act as a lynchpin to what will likely be a super productive offseason for Ryan Poles & Co.

Where will the pick land? And more importantly, who will the Bears pick?

Here's a look at who national pundits and outsiders have the Bears taking in the first round:

CBSWill Anderson Jr. (DE, Alabama)

CBS has been extremely active at predicting the upcoming draft by updating their viewers weekly with new mock drafts. For the Bears, they recently changed from having the No. 3 overall pick to the second over a week, and CBS was on top of it.

They have the Bears selecting star-studded edge rusher Will Anderson out of Alabama with the second pick in the draft. Anderson is an athletic, yet humungous (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) athlete on the edge. In his sophomore season, he recorded 17.5 sacks and 101 tackles. He already has 10 sacks this season, along with 51 tackles.

Here's what they have to say about the junior from Georgia and his fit with the Bears:

"The Bears moved on from Robert Quinn before the trade deadline, so they'll be in the market for an edge rusher in the offseason. They could also target an offensive lineman here to help Justin Fields, but Will Anderson Jr. is in the same pre-draft conversations as Chase Young and Nick Bosa when it comes to best non-QB players in a class."

ESPN: Will Anderson Jr. (DE, Alabama)

The most recent mock draft from ESPN does not include updated picks, as they have the Bears drafting No. 4 overall. However, they believe the edge rusher will be available to the Bears at this point in the draft.

They have quarterbacks Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, along with defensive tackle Jalen Carter off the board before Anderson.

Based on ESPN's FPI (Football Power Index) statistical probability calculations, they believe the Bears will end up with the No. 3 pick in the draft. According to ESPN, the Bears have a 4.5 percent chance of landing the first overall pick, a 73.9 percent chance of landing in the top five and a 98.1 percent chance of drafting in the top 10.

NBC Sports: Jalen Carter (DT, Georgia)

Trying to shy away from the Anderson prognosticators, Jalen Carter is another option for a defensive line unit that lacks talent.

NBC Sports projects Carter off the board for the Bears with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Carter is a 6-foot-4, 310-pound behemoth. In 10 games this season, he has 25 tackles and three sacks. Along with Anderson, the two are a tandem amongst the highest-rated non-quarterbacks in this draft.

Here's what they had to say about Carter and the Bears:

"If pressed, I strongly believe Chicago trades down from the third overall position to acquire more draft capital. However, should the Bears retain the third pick, targeting Carter potentially addresses a number of defensive problems. Carter displays enough lower body strength to stymie the run and surprising quickness to penetrate into teams' backfields. Chicago could utilize his alignment versatility and energy to bolster an ineffective defensive line."

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The Bears have a major advantage in the draft. Since they do not need a quarterback, they will likely have first grabs at the top pickings for non-quarterback athletes. Further, the team will have the leverage to trade down, since quarterbacks will be prioritized at the beginning of the draft.

RELATED: 'That guy:' Fields' apology to Bears' D shows franchise QB DNA

The Raiders, Texans (currently own No. 1 and No. 7 picks) Lions, Colts, etc. could be in the running for a quarterback.

Plus, trading down is a lucrative gig.

Back in the 2021 draft, the 49ers traded three first-rounders and a future third-rounder to move up and select Trey Lance with the third pick in the draft. In the same draft, ex-Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded two first-round picks, along with a future fourth- and fifth-round pick to trade up to the No. 11 pick for Justin Fields.

Poles could stock up his already ample draft capital with more from a trade-down. Before the trade deadline, Poles acquired a second- and fifth-round pick from the Ravens for Roquan Smith and a fourth-round pick from the Philadelphia Eagles for Robert Quinn. The Bears have eight picks in the upcoming draft.

The more the merrier. Certainly, the Bears will have options in the draft.

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