Bears have options at No. 9 going into NFL draft

The Chicago Bears already used the draft to address their glaring need for a playmaking receiver.

They still have big holes to fill.

The Bears come in needing better protection for quarterback Justin Fields and help on the defensive line, starting with the No. 9 overall pick.

General manager Ryan Poles already made one huge splash when he traded the No. 1 overall selection to Carolina for receiver DJ Moore and moved down eight spots. The Bears also got a haul of picks from the Panthers in that blockbuster deal.

At No. 9, there are a number of ways Poles could go.

If Jalen Carter is available, things could get real interesting. Do they grab the Georgia defensive tackle and decide his immense talent outweighs the risks?

Carter was viewed as a potential No. 1 pick had the Bears stayed at the top of the draft, before his off-field issues and a poor pro day.

Do they give Fields more protection by grabbing an offensive lineman? And if they go for a blocker, do they pick former Ohio State teammate Paris Johnson Jr. or maybe Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, Georgia’s Broderick Jones or Tennessee’s Darnell Wright?

"I think all the tackles are pretty close," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "Really, it depends upon which one you feel is the best. All of those four guys are versatile in their own way. Some played more multiple positions and played them pretty well."

Kiper had Seattle taking Carter at No. 5 and the Bears drafting Wright, with Philadelphia going with Skoronski one spot later as of last week. But if Carter is available?

"He’s the best player in this draft, I think, on pure football abilities," Kiper said. "If he were there, I would take him."

Poles didn’t have a first-rounder last year in his first draft, and he can’t afford to miss on this one. His next three picks will be no less important. The Bears have two second-rounders at 53 and 61 and the first pick of the third at No. 64.


The Bears went 3-14 and set a franchise record for losses in their first season under Poles and coach Matt Eberflus. But there is some optimism in Chicago even though the Monsters of the Midway have just three playoff appearances since the 2006 Super Bowl season.

A big source was the trade for Moore. The Bears also got Carolina’s No. 61 overall pick this year, a first-rounder in 2024 and a second-rounder in 2025.


Sacks were a major issue for the Bears on both sides of the ball. Fields was sacked 55 times, tying Denver’s Russell Wilson for most in the NFL. On defense, things were just as bad. The Bears had a league-worst 20 sacks, the fewest for Chicago since the 2003 team had 18. Philadelphia, by contrast, led the NFL with 70 this past season.


The Bears are committed to Fields in a year where quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young figure to be taken with the first two picks. Anthony Richardson is expected to be drafted near the top, too. Fields ran for 1,143 yards and finished 63 yards shy of Lamar Jackson’s QB rushing record of 1,206 set in his 2019 MVP season. But he needs to develop more as a passer.


Don’t be surprised if Poles moves up in the second round or adds a late first-rounder. He has the capital to make a move, with two second-rounders and an early third-rounder.


Two of the Bears’ most prominent additions in free agency were at linebacker. They agreed to contracts with Buffalo Bills two-time Pro Bowler Tremaine Edmunds (four years, $72 million, $50 million guaranteed) and former Philadelphia Eagle T.J. Edwards (three years, $19.5 million, $12 million guaranteed).