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Why Bears drafted Rome Odunze with No. 9 pick in 2024 NFL Draft

Why Bears drafted Rome Odunze with No. 9 pick in 2024 NFL Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

DETROIT -- The 2024 NFL Draft was already a win for the Chicago Bears when they opened the affair by drafting USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick.

However, general manager Ryan Poles had the gift of two first-round picks, and he turned an easy A draft into an A-plus when he chose Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze at No. 9 overall.

In Odunze, the Bears get a 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver who is a polished route-runner who thrives in contested catch situations.

Last season at Washington, Odunze had a contested catch percentage of 68.20, which was 25 points better than Marvin Harrison Jr. and 21 points better than Malik Nabers, both of whom were drafted ahead of Odunze.

Odunze is a smooth athlete with excellent body control and elite ball-tracking skills.

Scouts have compared him to Davante Adams and now teammate Keenan Allen.

Reception Perception's Matt Harmon evaluates all receiver prospects' route-running using different data, and Odunze was an efficient and effective receiver regardless of route.

In drafting Odunze, the Bears give Williams an elite receiver prospect to grow with in Chicago.

While the Bears already have DJ Moore and Allen, there is no reliable depth behind them. The 32-year-old Allen has also struggled with soft tissue injuries in the past and is in the final year of his contract.

Drafting Odunze gives the Bears a dynamic three-receiver attack that will give Williams a launching pad to success in Year 1. It also gives them life insurance after Allen, whether in 2025 or a few years later.

Pairing a young quarterback with a young star receiver is a quick way to success in the NFL. Surrounding Williams with a litany of offensive talent early should help foster positive development and help ensure he becomes a quarterback who will elevate those around him once his rookie contract runs out.

While Harrison Jr. and Nabers got a lot of the pre-draft shine, there are many around the NFL who believe Odunze will end up being the best pro of the trio.

The Bears have spent the pre-draft process proving to Williams and his camp that they will do everything necessary to give him the infrastructure and support to reach his lofty potential.

The Odunze selection was just the latest in a line of moves tailored to get Williams and the Bears franchise where they plan to go.

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