Good morning, Chicago!
And welcome to Draft Week.
It seems like forever ago that Lovie Smith and Davis Mills led the Texans to that improbable comeback victory, securing the top pick in the NFL Draft for Ryan Poles and the 3-14 Chicago Bears.
The victory started two months of debate over the haul the Bears should seek in trade for the No. 1 selection. Once Poles and the Carolina Panthers worked out the terms, we moved on to almost two months of looking at the Bears’ options at No. 9.
Now it’s almost all over and thank god it’s finally here. The first round is scheduled for Thursday night, rounds two and three are set for Friday and rounds four through seven to take place on Saturday afternoon. Kansas City is this year’s host.
The permutations for what can happen are endless, but here are a few big questions that will be answered almost immediately on Thursday night.
1. Who will the Houston Texans select at No. 2?
The Panthers seem set on taking Alabama QB Bryce Young with the first selection, but no one seems confident in predicting what Houston will do. The Texans desperately need a quarterback, but they also need a lot of other things and there’s a chance at landing Caleb Williams in 2024 if they’re not in love with C.J. Stroud and the rest of this year’s crop. The Texans passing on a quarterback would have both positive and negative ramifications for the Bears as it would eliminate one of the elite non-QB prospects while also increasing the chance that Ryan Poles could move the No. 9 pick to a QB-hungry team if someone like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis is still around. Texans GM Nick Caserio controls the way Thursday night will unfold with his decision.
2. Will Jalen Carter make it to the Bears at No. 9?
Once considered a prospect for the 1-1 pick, the Georgia defensive tackle saw his stock drop in the offseason with his involvement in a fatal street-racing crash and a less-than-impressive pro day. Poles and Co. have done their homework, including a visit by Carter to Halas Hall. I find it hard to believe he’ll make it past Seattle at No. 5 or Detroit at No. 6, but the drama will be thick if he’s still on the board when the Bears come on the clock.
3. Will the Bears trade down again?
This question probably won’t be answered until Roger Goodell announces the ninth pick, but we’ll all be thinking about it as the Bears’ selection approaches. Poles already has two first-round picks in 2024 and it’s hard not to think he wouldn’t want to add another. On the other hand, his team is in serious need of elite talent and the chances of him adding that in the back half of the first round are less if he moves out of the top 10. I’d be surprised if even Poles could tell you today that he knows exactly what he wants to do when No. 9 rolls around on Thursday night.
Whatever happens, it’s sure to make for a few memorable days in Bears history, a weekend that will set the agenda for our next four months of discussion until Week 1 arrives in September.
Hope to see everyone out at Joe’s on Weed Street for the first two nights on the draft. If you can’t make it, don’t worry: We’ll be livestreaming all night on YouTube.
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The Week Ahead
• Rough weekend for the Cubs, who dropped three of four to the Dodgers though positive trends are still emerging. The Padres arrive on Tuesday night for a three-game set before the Cubs head to Miami for the weekend.
• Even rougher weekend for the Sox, who were swept by the juggernaut Rays and sit with the fourth-worst record in the league at 7-15. They’re in Toronto for three starting tonight before returning home for a four-game series against the — gulp —Tampa Bay Rays.
• Both soccer teams are home next weekend. The Red Stars host Washington in Bridgeview while the Fire face the NY Red Bulls at Soldier Field.