How order of first-round picks in 2024 NFL draft could affect Bears decision at No. 9 overall

How order of first-round picks in 2024 NFL draft could affect Bears decision at No. 9 overall originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The start of the 2024 NFL draft is still a few hours away, but we already know what’s going to happen with the Bears’ No. 1 overall pick. In fact we’ve known for a long time. Everything points to GM Ryan Poles selecting Caleb Williams to take over as the team’s quarterback when the draft finally kicks off next Thursday. After that though, things get cloudier.

The Bears next selection is at No. 9, and what happens with the picks in between could determine what they decide to do. Here’s a look at the full draft order for the first round.

  1. Bears (via CAR)

  2. Commanders

  3. Patriots

  4. Cardinals

  5. Chargers

  6. Giants

  7. Titans

  8. Falcons

  9. Bears

  10. Jets

  11. Vikings

  12. Broncos

  13. Raiders

  14. Saints

  15. Colts

  16. Seahawks

  17. Jaguars

  18. Bengals

  19. Rams

  20. Steelers

  21. Dolphins

  22. Eagles

  23. Vikings (via CLE)

  24. Cowboys

  25. Packers

  26. Buccaneers

  27. Cardinals (via HOU)

  28. Bills

  29. Lions

  30. Ravens

  31. 49ers

  32. Chiefs

The Bears have several options to consider with the No. 9 pick. An argument can be made that drafting a wide receiver, offensive tackle, pass rusher would all help the team in both the short and long term. Further, a trade up or a trade down could be on the table. The possibilities are numerous, and the team’s final decision could depend on what happens in front of them– and the desperation of the teams behind them.

Let’s start with the teams in front of the Bears. Assuming quarterbacks come off the board with the top three picks, a big inflection point could be No. 4 with the Cardinals. They could stay put and draft one of the “big three” wide receivers, or potentially trade back to another QB-needy team. From there, the Chargers, Giants and Titans could all conceivably draft a wide receiver or an offensive tackle. Then there is the Falcons, who are widely speculated to be the first team to take a defensive player off the board.

Let’s say a big run on quarterbacks and offensive tackles occurs. In that scenario, an elite receiver could be left for the Bears, and they might jump at the chance to pair Williams with a playmaker for the duration of their careers. By adding Keenan Allen earlier this offseason to line up alongside DJ Moore, the Bears have ensured Williams will have two excellent WRs to target. But Allen turns 32 later this month and will likely only play in Chicago for a handful of seasons– if he signs a contract extension with the team. Maybe Poles views this as an opportunity for the team to set up their offense for the long term?

What if the top shelf wide receivers are all gone by the time the Bears pick again, but a left tackle they covet is there? We know the Bears value building out the trenches given Poles’ and assistant GM Ian Cunningham’s OL pedigrees, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise if the team opts to bolster the unit.

Or perhaps the Bears have an extremely high grade on a pass rusher who is still on the board, while their top offensive prospects are gone? If there’s one guy they have circled as a force-multiplier on the defensive line, graded significantly better than the rest of the class, they could use the opportunity to add him and keep the defense on its upward trajectory from last year.

There’s also a world in which every blue-chip player on the Bears board is gone by the time they pick. Or maybe only three quarterbacks get drafted among the top-eight picks and a QB-needy team gets antsy to make a move. In both of those cases, Poles could get on the phone and offer up the No. 9 pick to the highest bidder in the hopes of recouping a second or third-rounder. The Vikings, Broncos, Raiders and maybe even the Jets or Saints could be thinking about their next quarterback, and could be interested in making a deal with the Bears.

This is the draft order now, but things can change at any point between now and the start of the draft. When the picks start coming on Thursday night, more draft-day trades will filter in, too. And everything that happens from the No. 2 pick to No. 8 will affect what happens with the Bears’ No. 9 pick.

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