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Chicago Bears 2024 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: How a Risky Trade-Down Can Work

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams runs away from UCLA defenders
USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) scrambles during the third quarter against the UCLA Bruins at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports)

Since Ryan Poles became the Chicago Bears' general manager in January 2022, the team has been busy overhauling a roster lacking talent on both sides of the ball. His decision to move out of the No. 1 pick last year helped land this year's top selection. Poles has also made a few aggressive trades for veterans, expediting the roster-building process. 

With only four picks in the 2024 NFL Draft before any trades, the Bears are a good candidate to get creative. The No. 1 pick appears to be set in stone, but Chicago could move around with the No. 9, No. 75 and No. 122 picks. Even after acquiring Keenan Allen, Montez Sweat, Kevin Byard and D'Andre Swift, the Bears still have plenty of needs. 

This seven-round NFL mock draft looks at how Chicago can maximize its assets to strike the right balance between adding great talent and addressing several areas of need. 

Chicago Bears 7-Round Mock Draft

Round 1, 1st Overall

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The conversation around what Chicago would do with the No. 1 pick has shifted in the last month after Justin Fields was traded, and Caleb Williams separated himself from this quarterback class. There's no such thing as a generational quarterback prospect, but Williams is one of the best at his position in the last decade. Few can match his blend of playmaking, physical traits and high football IQ.

Williams will need to improve in certain areas, and the NFL's speed will surely require some adjustment. But how Williams controls the game and mitigates negative plays is a sign of dominance. Chicago, finally, will boast a quarterback who will shatter all its franchise records.

The Bears' real challenge is proceeding with the remainder of their picks.  

>> READ: Where Does Williams Rank vs. Recent RD1 QBs

Round 1, 17th Overall

Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Trade details: Bears get No. 17, No. 48 and No. 212 overall; Jaguars get No. 9 overall.

There are two schools of thought regarding what the Bears should do with the ninth pick. Chicago can almost surely pick from a top receiver like Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze or a highly-touted tackle prospect.

Should the Bears stay here and essentially accept that their draft class revolves around the two top-10 picks — or should they move down and take advantage of the class' depth?

It's hard to say because the Bears will only look good if the player they pass on busts and if the picks added are meaningful contributors. If Poles has the ego that I do, I'd bank on the ability to add an impact starter with multiple picks later on. Jacksonville would be an especially tempting trade partner because they need a receiver and have a full cabinet of picks.

Moving down to 17 means Chicago doesn't miss out on the handful of pass rushers who are worth taking in Round 1, the second tier of receivers or even an offensive lineman. The Bears seem happier with their line than outsiders are, and this loaded receiving class means waiting is viable.

But historically, it's almost impossible to find a productive edge defender outside of Round 1. 

Grabbing a pro-ready player in Jared Verse is a huge win. Verse had a down 2023 as offenses keyed in on him, but his explosiveness, high-level run defense and closing ability bode well as a No. 2 across from Sweat. Verse's frame fits what Poles has added along the line in the last two years, so it'd be shocking if the Bears don't like the Florida State prospect.

Round 2, No. 48 Overall

Close-up of Washington Huskies wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk reaching out to catch a pass
Washington Huskies wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk (2) catches a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Texas Longhorns in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)
Ja'Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

The DJ Moore and Allen duo is a fantastic pairing for Williams. However, Allen is in the final year of his contract and is aging, so the fourth-round pick Chicago surrendered for him might only be for a short-term rental. That means a long-term starter is still needed.

Washington's Ja'Lynn Polk is a rising name. The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder broke out as Odunze's big-play partner in 2023, catching 69 passes for 1,153 yards and nine touchdowns. Polk averaged 17.1 yards per catch at Washington thanks to his excellent length, strong hands and ability to get over the top of defenders on vertical routes.

Polk is quicker than straight-line fast, which helps him as a route runner more than just as a burner. His ability to get off the line, break press coverage and eat up yards puts defenders in a tough spot when guessing his routes.

It's clear Polk isn't an elite athlete, but he profiles as an efficient, No. 2 receiver who can make an impact. 

Round 3, No. 75 Overall

Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kris Jenkins beats his man and chases after the TCU quarterback
TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan (15) passes against Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kris Jenkins (94) in the second quarter of the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)
Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

This pick is an interesting point for Chicago because solid offensive linemen will be on the board here. If Poles is happy with the trio of Braxton Jones, Nate Davis and Ryan Bates, then the Bears will likely continue to wait on addressing the position. Instead, they can add someone who will play immediately.

Kris Jenkins can join a young, athletic pair of defensive tackles in Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens. Neither Dexter nor Pickens played more than 41 percent of snaps as rookies, so it'd be wise for Chicago to continue adding talent to the group. It'd be great if each player hits and the Bears develop a deep rotation along the interior.

Jenkins has the upside to be the best of the three players because he's more well-rounded and explosive as an athlete. His raw stats at Michigan were insignificant, but he was often collapsing the pocket or controlling his blocker and affecting run plays.

He quickly gets into the lap of blockers and has the strength to create space, so he forces ball carriers to abandon their assigned gap.

Round 4, No. 122 Overall

Texas Tech safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (in a white uniform and helmet) stretches out in the air to make the tackle
Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) runs against Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Dadrion Taylor-Demerson (25) during the first quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. (Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports)
Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, SAF, Texas Tech

The Bears added Byard on a two-year deal with only one season guaranteed. Byard is coming off a surprisingly poor 2023 season with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he turns 31 in August. It's possible that he will bounce back, but the Bears can't bank on the veteran being more than what he was last season.

The safety position isn't highly valued right now, so getting a capable starter with great athleticism and production this late is possible. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson has been a massive offseason riser as coaches and evaluators dug into his tape. It also helps that he had seven interceptions and 147 tackles in the last two years.

With his excellent speed, closing ability, tackling technique and range, Taylor-Demerson can move between the slot and multiple safety assignments. His versatility perfectly matches how defensive coordinators use various schemes on any drive.

Will he fall this far? If he does, Chicago can't pass on him. 

Round 6, No. 212 Overall

Javion Cohen, in a white jersey and helmet and orange pants, raises his hands as he stands behind the play
Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman Javion Cohen (70) celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. (Andy Lewis-USA TODAY Sports)
Javion Cohen, OG, Miami (FL)

The benefit of a trade-down is the ability to find a talented player at a position of need who unexpectedly fell. Javion Cohen is a good, plug-and-play-caliber right guard, which might be a need for the Bears in 2025.

Considering how injuries can quickly ravage an offensive line, it's hard to imagine Poles would opt against adding more depth.

Cohen didn't test as well as hoped at the combine, but his film was more promising than the underwear Olympics. Even if he's an average athlete for the position, his 324-pound body is punishing, and his physicality matches what Chicago desires from its blockers.