The 2024 NFL Draft will be exciting for Chicago Bears fans. There’s always extra juice around a draft year when your team has two first-round picks. General Manager Ryan Poles set the Bears up with two first-rounders when he sent the first pick in the 2023 draft to the Carolina Panthers.
The Bears are on a shortlist of teams who’ve significantly upgraded their roster during the offseason. Poles leveraged his league-high salary cap space to sign starters like Tremaine Edmunds, TJ Edwards, and Nate Davis, and the trade that landed Chicago an extra first-round pick in 2024 also secured DJ Moore as a WR1 for Justin Fields.
As a result, more than three wins are expected for the Bears this year, and it’s within the range of outcomes that Chicago competes for a wild card or even the NFC North crown in 2023.
There isn’t nearly as much optimism around the Panthers, who, despite landing their presumed franchise quarterback in Bryce Young, still have work to do before they are considered a playoff contender. There’s a strong chance the Chicago Bears could end up with a top-10 pick because of the trade.
Bears Mock Draft: Chicago must add high-impact starters in 2024 first round
It’s great to have those first-round selections, but if Poles doesn’t hit on both picks with instant starters, it’ll be all for nothing. Early mock drafts like the one recently published by ESPN help give an idea about which players could be in the Bears’ crosshairs next April.
“Turner is raw and hasn’t quite figured out how to consistently string pass-rush moves together, but at 6-4, 240 pounds, he has impressive physical traits and upside,” Reid wrote. “He enters the 2023 season as the key part of the Alabama defensive front after recording 35 pressures and four sacks last season.”
Get used to seeing edge rusher as the Chicago Bears’ top draft priority. Even if Poles signs a veteran to upgrade the pass rush before the 2023 season kicks off, it won’t be the kind of player representing a long-term fix. Instead, the NFL Draft will be the most logical place to accomplish that goal.
With their second first-rounder, which Reid has at No. 11 overall, the Bears flip to the offensive side of the ball and select Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka.
“He is a crafty and detailed route runner with a great feel for attacking creases against zone looks and the body control and instincts to create separation against man coverage,” wrote Reid. “Even after adding DJ Moore and Chase Claypool, Egbuka would boost the passing game around Justin Fields — and give the Bears a security blanket in case Claypool (a free agent in 2024) doesn’t pan out for them.”
Whether wide receiver is a need area for the Chicago Bears in the 2024 draft depends largely on what happens with Claypool and Darnell Mooney. I expect one of them will earn a second contract in Chicago this year, and if the Bears pay a hefty price for either of their services, they could decide to push wide receiver down their list of needs.
ESPN’s 2024 mock draft is a great example of how much better the Bears can get in one draft class. An elite pass rusher and exceptional wide receiver — two of the game’s most important positions — would be an A+ haul. And it’s only possible because of the work Poles did during what could go down as one of the best offseasons in recent team history.