The Chicago Bears traded the No. 1 pick to the Carolina Panthers, but they’re still in a good position to land a top prospect at ninth overall in the NFL draft.
While many expect the Bears to go offensive tackle with their first selection, there’s recently been some disagreement among experts about which direction Chicago could go. Whether it’s offensive tackle, wide receiver, defensive line or cornerback.
NFL Network’s Adam Rank shared a new mock draft, where he’s focusing on what every team should do in the first round. Rank is quick to note — in his mockery — that he’d be surprised if the Bears didn’t opt to trade back with Anthony Richardson and Will Levis still on the board.
But Rank has Chicago staying put at No. 9 and landing a top playmaker in Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, giving quarterback Justin Fields another playmaker in his former college teammate.
If you stay at No. 9, though, take Smith-Njigba. I know, you already traded for DJ Moore. But you’re not quite complete. You can never have too many great receivers. And if Darnell Mooney or Chase Claypool don’t work out, Smith-Njigba will be ready to go. You will also need to give new contracts to Fields and Moore at some point, and having a receiver on a rookie deal for up to five years would help a lot. (Yes, the offensive line remains a need, but I trust Poles to find another Braxton Jones with one of the three picks he currently has in the range from No. 53 to No. 64 overall.)
The wide receiver isn’t a pressing need after the team acquired DJ Moore in the No. trade. 1 pick. The Bears have a solid receiving trio of Moore, Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney.
But Claypool and Mooney are entering the final year of their rookie years, and there’s no guarantee that one or both will be back. Landing the top wide receiver in the draft in Njigba — also someone Fields trusts and has chemistry with — would only help Fields’ development.
General manager Ryan Poles made it clear he won’t prioritize need over taking the best player available. And if Smith-Njigba is one of Poles’ “blue” players, he could be an option at ninth overall.
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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire