Chicago comes into the 2024 NFL Draft with only four picks — 1, 9, 75 and 122, but I fully expect that Ryan Poles will find a way to acquire more picks over the course of the three days of the Draft. And as you'll soon see, my line of thinking lines up nicely with what I expect Ryan Poles and the Bears to do.

Now I should note, this isn't just a random stabbing at what the Bears may do and who they may select. This is an actual Mock Draft I completed, courtesy of the Mock Draft Simulator at Pro Football Focus. Is their algorithm perfect? No, but you do have the opportunity before starting to tinker with some settings that, through trial and error, can help you arrive at a point where it feels as though the mock draft that is unfolding could certainly resemble what happens in real life in Detroit, Michigan less than two weeks from now.

1st Pick, 1st Round – Caleb Williams, Quarterback, USC 

If the Bears do anything besides select Caleb Williams with the #1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, then that means I wasted over 6,000 words writing about 25 years of Bears quarterback misery and how Williams could potentially go down as a savior in the city of Chicago, and I just won't stand for that. And frankly, neither will Ryan Poles. Say what you want about the limited return the Bears got from Pittsburgh for Justin Fields, but the way that Poles has played his cards over the last few years, putting the Bears into position to draft one of the greatest college quarterback prospects ever while also crafting a legitimately talented roster, has been a masterclass in team building that deserves to be commended more than it already has. Caleb Williams and the rest of the Bears' 2024 draft class will be the final pieces of the puzzle.

Trade: Chicago trades 9th pick and 122nd pick to New Orleans for 14th pick, 45th pick and 150th pick

I should note here that both Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze and Georgia tight end Brock Bowers were both on the board when I decided to make this trade with New Orleans. If the Bears were to stand pat at #9 on draft night and take either Odunze or Bowers, pairing either of them with Williams, then I'd be inclined to say that's a job-well-done for Ryan Poles and the Bears in the 1st round of the Draft. However, I'm really impressed by the wide receiver depth in this draft class, and trading down puts me in a position to snag an edge rusher in Round 1, while still having the opportunity to select a 3rd receiver to play alongside DJ Moore and Keenan Allen in Round 2.

14th Pick, 1st Round – Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

The Bears entered the offseason with a handful of needs, and one of the only ones that hasn't yet been addressed is a high-quality edge rusher opposite of Montez Sweat. This is Chicago's opportunity to do just that. Latu, the 2023 winner of the Ted Hendricks Award which is given to the nation's top defensive end, is a proven commodity as a pass rusher, notching 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons with the Bruins. NFL Network's Marc Ross claimed that Latu has “a bag of moves that nobody else has,” and that sounds exactly like the kind of guy the Bears should be aiming to select with their second of two 1st round picks.

There are some injury concerns that need to be considered when potentially opting to select Latu. Latu, now 23 years old, started his career at Washington in 2019, and suffered a neck injury during his sophomore season that was so troublesome that that medical staff at Washington deemed him unfit to continue playing football. Latu eventually transferred to UCLA and has fortunately remained healthy ever since suiting up for the Bruins. His medical evaluations have come back clean, and in my mind, that serves as a green light to take the man who could turn out to be a dominant pass rusher off the edge.

45th Pick, 2nd Round – Roman Wilson, Wide Receiver, Michigan

Roman Wilson is my favorite of the few receivers who the Bears could realistically get in this spot — as long as Jim Harbaugh and the Chargers don't get to him first — if they were to make a trade like the one I made. Wilson ran the 6th-fasted 40-time among receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine, and performed well in his drills. Outside of the measurables, Wilson is a gamer who scored 12 touchdowns last year at Michigan, making up exactly half of the receiving touchdowns the Wolverines had as a team during their National Championship season.

Wilson is on the smaller side, coming in at just under 5'11” and weighing 185 lbs. But he's a fantastic route runner who can keep defenders on their toes by changing speeds and directions with ease. It's easy to see why he's earned a Tyler Lockett comparison from former NFL Scout and current Senior Bowl executive Jim Nagy.

“He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s sturdy, he plays big on the ball for a little guy,” Nagy said, per Aaron McMann of Michigan Live. “That’s why the Tyler Lockett comparison, I was lucky to be around Tyler for five years in Seattle. I think they’re really similar players.”

Not only do Lockett and Wilson resemble one another stylistically, but their pre-draft measurables are practically identical. And hey, don't forget: New Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron coached Tyler Lockett in Seattle for the previous three seasons. Lockett, who is already 31 years old, has enjoyed an extended prime in Waldron's offense. In the last three years, Lockett has hauled in 236 receptions for 3,102 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Trade: Chicago trades 75th pick and 2025 4th Round Pick to LA Rams for 83rd pick and 99th pick 

This was all about getting an extra bite at the metaphorical apple in this year's draft. The difference, at least in my mind, between the prospects I could select with the 75th pick and the 83rd pick was not all that significant, and getting the 99th pick to boot for the price of a 2025 4th round pick felt like a Night Two win for the Bears.

83rd Pick, 3rd Round – Sedrick Van Pran, Center, Georgia

I wrote about Sedrick Van Pran back in February as a potential 3rd round pick for the Bears, but that was before Chicago signed center Coleman Shelton away from the Rams. Shelton is only in Chicago on a one-year deal and he'll be 29 by the time the season begins, but he also has enough experience playing other positions along the offensive line that it shouldn't dissuade Poles and the Bears from taking someone who could ideally serve as Caleb Williams' starting center for the next decade. This is what I had to say about Van Pran a month and a half ago.

Van Pran was a three-year starter at Georgia, which means he has plenty of big game experience — two National Championship runs will do that — and experience playing against some of the top competition in college football in the SEC. He has great size and IQ, and has been described as versatile enough to play in any scheme he finds himself in. Van Pran been knocked for being a bit too aggressive from time to time, but that doesn't seem like too big of a problem. I'd rather coach a guy who needs to dial it back than someone whose fire needs to be stoked on a consistent basis. 

99th Pick, 3rd Round – Sione Vaki, Safety/Running Back, Utah 

The secondary is arguably the strong-suit of the Bears defense. All-Pro Jaylon Johnson is returning to Chicago on a massive, yet well-deserved four-year, $76 million deal. Tyrique Stevenson, Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon all have the makings of potential Pro Bowl caliber defensive backs, and recently-signed Kevin Byard is a veteran who already has two Pro Bowl appearances in his career. Adding someone like Sione Vaki to the mix feels like an example of the rich getting even richer. Joining a Safety group that includes a budding star in Brisker, an established star in Byard and a proven contributor in Jonathan Biles Owens would provide Vaki the opportunity to grow, learn and ease into the position. But Sione Vaki doesn't just project as a potentially conventional contributing safety.

Not only is Vaki accustomed to being lined up all over the defense, he also has legitimate experience on the offensive side of the ball as well. During the 2023 season, Vaki carried the ball 42 times for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes and 203 yards and 3 touchdowns, including this screen pass that he took to the house against the Washington Huskies.

These sorts of multi-tool prospects always intrigue me, and given the state of the Bears roster, I don't see why they shouldn't take a shot on Sione Vaki if they find themselves in the spot to do so in this range of the Draft.

150th Pick, 5th Round – Mekhi Wingo, Defensive Tackle, LSU 

The Bears took two swings at finding a stud along the interior of the defensive line last year, taking Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens in the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively. Dexter was the standout among the two, logging nearly twice as many snaps as Pickens, and accumulating an impressive 29 pressures and 12 quarterback hits, the 4th-most among Bears last season. But to be fair, neither Dexter or Pickens popped to the degree that Chicago should leave the 2024 Draft without bolstering the interior of the defensive line, even if it comes on Day 3. That's where LSU's Mekhi Wingo enters the picture.

Wingo projects more as a stout run defender than he does as an interior pass-rushing presence, at least out of the gate. He's smaller in stature than most of his contemporaries (6'1″, 295 lbs) and he comes to the NFL without a large repertoire of pass-rushing moves, but Wingo is a high-character guy who has one hell of a motor — his 821 snaps last season were most among interior defensive linemen in college — and is always in relentless pursuit of the football. In various scouting reports of Wingo, I've seen the word “slippery” used to describe the struggles that offensive linemen have had with Wingo.

If Wingo's size is what prevents him from being a Day 2 pick, then I very much hope Chicago would consider taking him with this hypothetical pick, or with the 122nd pick that they own as we're less than two weeks out from the NFL Draft.


Chicago Bears 2024 NFL Mock Draft