Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Bears land pair of impact players in USA Today’s latest mock draft

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The Chicago Bears are gearing up for what’s hopefully a franchise-altering 2024 NFL draft, where they hold two first-round picks, including the No. 1 overall selection.

USA Today’s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz revealed his latest mock draft, where the Bears landed a pair of impact contributors with their top-10 picks.

In what will come as a surprise to no one (including Washington Commanders fans), he has Chicago selecting Williams with the first overall selection.

What’s left to say about an outcome that has never been in serious doubt since the Bears secured this slot? Let’s focus instead on Chicago’s overall approach. Williams will step into an offensive outlook far more promising than the one awaiting other potential rookie signal-callers in Washington and New England, as the Bears’ receivers and offensive line look capable of holding their own while a first-year passer finds his way. General manager Ryan Poles recently pushed back against ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III’s remarks about the franchise’s history of developing quarterbacks, saying “we were hired to break a cycle.” Far too early to say whether he will succeed, but the setup for Year 3 has been impressive.

Williams recently had his Top 30 visit with the Bears — which is expected to be his only pre-draft visit among teams — where he toured Halas Hall and even dined with Bears brass and current players, including DJ Moore. At this point, the only thing left for the Bears to do is turn in the card on draft night.

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

While there’s no question what the Bears will do with the first overall selection, the No. 9 pick presents plenty of intrigue — and options.

Interestingly enough, in this scenario, Chicago elects to pass on Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, who fell to them at No. 9. Instead, they go with Florida State defensive end Jared Verse, who’s the second edge rusher off the board after Alabama’s Dallas Turner at No. 8.

Many have long assumed that the Bears would use this selection on a pass catcher in a bid to further improve the supporting cast for Williams. But what if Poles gravitates toward making a significant upgrade to a pass rush that ranked 31st in sacks (30) even after the addition of Pro Bowler Montez Sweat? Verse’s hard-charging style would make him a fast favorite of Matt Eberflus, and he’s the kind of piece capable of helping this defense continue the ascension that began late last year.

Edge rusher is one of the Bears’ biggest needs on the roster, as they’re in need of a starter opposite Montez Sweat. In this mock, Chicago gets just that in Verse, who should further help elevate a pass rush that was among the worst in the NFL last season (even after the acquisition of Sweat).

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