Mock draft 2.0: Bears trade No. 1 pick

When the Chiefs beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the NFL calendar turned earnestly toward the offseason. That means the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Feb. 28, followed by free agency and then the draft, which starts April 28.

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Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson is expected to be drafted in the top five.

Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson is expected to be drafted in the top five.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

PHOENIX — Next stop, draft season.

When the Chiefs beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the NFL calendar turned earnestly toward the offseason. That means the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts Feb. 28, followed by free agency and then the draft, which starts April 28.

With the most salary-cap space in the NFL and the No. 1 overall pick, the Bears are in position to dictate the offseason. They appear committed to quarterback Justin Fields, a strategy many around the league agreed with during Super Bowl festivities. That means the Bears are most likely to trade the top pick.

Here’s where the Sun-Times’ mock draft stands now that the Super Bowl is settled — complete with a Bears trade:

1. Colts (trade with Bears): Alabama QB Bryce Young

Teams should be wary about putting too much stock in the NFL Scouting Combine, but Young’s official measurements will be a big deal. He’s listed at 6 feet tall, but he wouldn’t be the first player whose height was fudged by his college team.

2. Texans: Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

Some teams will talk themselves into Stroud being a better prospect than Young. The Texans will be thrilled to find out if that’s true.

3. Cardinals: Georgia DT Jalen Carter

Either Carter or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson will be a welcome addition for a team that gave up the second-most points in the NFL last season.

4. Bears (trade with Colts): Alabama EDGE Will Anderson

The team that gave up the most points? The Bears, who seem more likely to fill their glaring need at defensive tackle via free agency. After trading down to get the Colts’ first-round draft pick in 2024, they’d be thrilled with either SEC defensive stud.

5. Seahawks: Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

One of the great shocks of the 2022 season was the emergence of quarterback Geno Smith into a building block. The Seahawks will give him a contract extension — and then give him help at receiver.

6. Panthers (trade with Lions): Kentucky QB Will Levis

Levis’ running a pro-style offense at Kentucky — Liam Cohen, his offensive coordinator in 2021, came off the Sean McVay tree — makes him an easier projection than Young or Stroud, though with a lower ceiling.

7. Raiders: Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski

The last time the Raiders drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1, they landed Alex Leatherwood, whom they cut within a year. The Bears have tried to resuscitate his career; thus far, it’s not going well.

8. Falcons: Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.

Not wanting to overdraft the last remaining relevant quarterback, the Falcons turn to protecting the one they’ve got.

9. Lions (trade with Panthers): Texas Tech EDGE Tyree Wilson

They made huge gains last season — but not on defense. Drafting Wilson to put opposite last year’s No. 2 pick, Aidan Hutchinson, would be scary.

10. Eagles: Texas RB Bijan Robinson

It’s criminal the Eagles get to draft this high. A smart trade with the Saints last season gives the run-first team a chance to make the ultimate luxury pick.

11. Titans: Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

After the Falcons took Kyle Pitts fourth overall two years ago, projecting a tight end to go 11th doesn’t seem so crazy.

12. Texans: Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

DeMeco Ryans, the Texans’ defensive-minded head coach, makes Witherspoon the highest-drafted Illinois player since Kevin Hardy in 1996.

13. Jets: Georgia OT Broderick Jones

The Jets are looking for a veteran quarterback — and that quarterback will need help staying upright.

14. Patriots: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Bill Belichick certainly will be intrigued by someone with the pedigree of Porter, whose father went to four Pro Bowls in 13 seasons as a linebacker.

15. Packers: Florida QB Anthony Richardson

Aaron Rodgers is gone in this scenario. Jordan Love is unproven. And Richardson is the biggest boom-or-bust pick in Round 1.

16. Commanders: Alabama CB Brian Branch

Pairing a strong cornerback with the Commanders’ nasty defensive line is a smart formula in a division with the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants.

17. Steelers: Iowa EDGE Lukas Van Ness

Maybe it’s seeing him in Hawkeyes black and yellow, but the Barrington native just feels like a Steelers pick.

18. Lions: Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

Pro Football Focus graded the Lions as the worst coverage team in the NFL last season.

19. Buccaneers: Florida G O’Cyrus Torrence

The Bucs should get plenty of looks at Florence via their local pro day.

20. Seahawks: Georgia Tech EDGE Keion White

He could be the steal of the draft. If he’s merely good, he’ll still be an upgrade.

21. Dolphins (forfeited)

The Dolphins violated league tampering rules with quarterback Tom Brady and former Saints coach Sean Payton. They also lost their 2024 third-round pick.

22. Chargers: TCU WR Quentin Johnston

Drafting a receiver will depend on whether the Bolts cut Keenan Allen.

23. Ravens: Tennessee WR Jalin Hyatt

No team in the league — not even the Bears — needs talent at wide receiver more than the hapless Ravens.

24. Vikings: Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

The physical cornerback will fit well in new coordinator Brian Flores’ scheme.

25. Jaguars: Utah TE Dalton Kincaid

If tight end Evan Engram leaves in free agency, this fills an obvious need.

26. Giants: USC WR Jordan Addison

In the modern NFL, you either have a stud receiver or you’re looking for one.

27. Cowboys: Baylor DT Siaki Ika

Big D stays local — Waco is an hour and a half away — to add beef.

28. Bills: Texas A&M S Antonio Johnson

Is he a pure safety? A linebacker? The Bills will figure it out.

29. Bengals: Clemson DL Bryan Bresee

He could go much higher, but the Bengals are thrilled he slipped this far.

30. Saints: LSU EDGE BJ Ojulari

In his second season, defensive-minded head coach Dennis Allen gets a first-round defender.

31. Eagles: Maryland CB Deonte Banks

A lot of teams claim they’ll take the best player available. The Eagles, with depth across positions, can actually do so.

32. Chiefs: Boston College WR Zay Flowers

The best landing spot a receiver could hope for.

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