The Chicago Bears had what may turn out to become a franchise-altering offseason this year. There perhaps hasn't been this much hope, intrigue, and vigor coming from the Windy City in regards to football since the Super Bowl Shuffle. That's all mostly thanks to an impressive 2024 draft class.

The Bears may have had one of the smallest classes of the entire 2024 NFL Draft, but they may have had one of the most notable. For one, they had two of the first nine picks, starting with No. 1 overall. That pick, of course, went to highly-touted quarterback prospect Caleb Williams out of USC.

Williams means more than probably anyone to a lot of NFL franchises. For one, he's a hopeful franchise quarterback, a dream for every NFL team. But he also hopes to be the very lifeblood of the Bears franchise, the missing piece that has been long searched for in the history of the team. When talking about this year's team, there really is no competition for Williams, even as a rookie, with Brett Rypien and Tyson Bagent behind him.

As for the other rookies, they're likely going to challenge the veterans on this team, which will only make the team better in the long run. Here are three veterans who will be challenged for the Bears during the 2024 season.

Rome Odunze will challenge DJ Moore, Keenan Allen

Chicago Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze (15) runs drills as head coach Matt Eberflus looks on during Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall.
© David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Rome Odunze led all of college football with 1,640 receiving yards last season. He was one of the best wide receivers in the game. Now he'll join what looks to be a much-revamped Bears offense with a rookie quarterback in Williams and two other big-time veteran receivers in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen.

New offensive coordinator Shane Waldron will have a lot of weapons to work with in his first year. While Moore looks to be vying for the leading receiver for the Bears once again, don't be surprised to see Odunze make great strides in Year 1, even with Allen now in the mix, challenging each for catches.

Having three deep threats in Moore, Allen, and Odunze is a good problem to have for a passing offense that ranked 27th in the league last year, averaging 182.1 yards per game. These Bears wideouts have the capability to be the best unit of all in the NFL in 2024, with Odunze being a major contributor.

Defensive end Demarcus Walker will be challenged by rookie Austin Booker

One area that many were hoping the Bears would address in the draft was some sort of pass rusher. But as mentioned, with only a limited number of picks, not to mention void of a second-round pick, the pickings were slim later on.

The Bears waited all the way until their last pick in the fifth round at pick No. 144 to draft defensive end/linebacker Austin Booker out of Kansas. Chicago actually traded back into the draft to make the pick, believing they saw worth in Booker, who was fourth in team tackles (56) and leader in sacks (8) for the Kansas Jayhawks last season.

The Bears see Booker more as a defensive end, despite him playing a majority of his snaps at outside linebacker with the Jayhawks. That then becomes an immediate challenge for veteran defensive end Demarcus Walker.

Walker has become quite the journeyman over the last couple of seasons after spending his first four years with the Denver Broncos. He's had stays in Houston and Tennessee and will be making his second straight season with Chicago in 2024.

The Bears were hoping that Walker could be a nice complement to Montez Sweat last season, but his numbers took a bit of a dip. His sacks went from 7 in 2022 to 3.5 last year. His overall defensive grade also dropped from 72.8 to 59.1, having 10 games where he graded below 60, per Pro Football Focus.

Though Booker is young at 21 years old and will certainly need time to develop into the role the Bears call for him, he should be looking to give Walker a challenge at defensive end this season as they hope to improve their pass rush. It's likely anything will be considered an improvement from last season, though. The Bears were second-worst in team sacks in 2023 with just 30.