NFL mock draft: New pick, new prospect for Bears after trade

The Bears still have plenty of work to do on their roster, and that starts with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft.

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Ohio State offensive tackle Paris Johnson at the NFL scouting combine.

Ohio State’s Paris Johnson is competing with Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski to be the top offensive lineman picked in the draft.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

PHOENIX — The Bears are in the final phase of their draft preparation. The main part of free agency is finished, and they have clarity on where they’re picking after general manager Ryan Poles traded back to No. 9.

That took his team out of the mix for the stars of this draft class, but he believed it was worth it to land an extra second-rounder this year and a first-rounder next year from the Panthers.

“Very excited with the trade,” coach Matt Eberflus said during the NFL’s annual meeting this week. “That was awesome.”

With all of that straightened out, here’s the latest mock draft:

1. Panthers — Alabama QB Bryce Young

Young has been the consensus favorite to go No. 1 overall for months and has only solidified his standing throughout the pre-draft process.

2. Texans — Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud

Not a bad consolation prize for the Texans, who badly need a quarterback and can’t afford to trade out of this spot or wait another year to draft one.

3. Cardinals — Alabama DE Will Anderson

Anderson is the surest thing in this draft class. He’s an overwhelming pass rusher from college football’s foremost powerhouse and has no red flags.

4. Colts — Florida QB Anthony Richardson

This is where the drama starts. If the Colts can’t make a trade for Lamar Jackson, they’ll swing big on Richardson’s upside.

5. Seahawks — Texas Tech DE Tyree Wilson

Wilson, who had 2712 tackles for loss over the last two seasons, isn’t far behind Anderson in the pass rusher pecking order.

6. Lions — Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez

Gonzalez had a great combine and has been surging up draft boards. He has been projected to go as high as No. 4.

7. Raiders — Georgia DT Jalen Carter

If the draft was done solely off prospects’ college film, Carter would be the clear top choice. But his legal situation and poor performance at pro day will cause hesitation.

8. Falcons — Kentucky QB Will Levis

It’s unclear whether the Falcons believe they need a quarterback or truly intend to roll with 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder.

9. Bears — Ohio State OT Paris Johnson

This will be a tough call for the Bears, who also could consider Northwestern tackle Peter Skoronski or Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon.

10. Eagles — Illinois CB Devon Witherspoon

What do the Eagles even need? They were loaded across the board and came up just short in the Super Bowl, so they’ll look for the best available talent.

11. Titans — Northwestern OT Peter Skoronski

Skoronski projects as an immediate NFL starter, and there’s debate over whether he or Johnson is the best offensive lineman in this class.

12. Texans — Georgia OLB Nolan Smith

The Texans need a lot of help, and walking out of this draft with a new starting quarterback and pass rusher would be a big success.

13. Jets — Georgia OT Broderick Jones

The Jets are going to need someone to protect Aaron Rodgers, assuming the anticipated trade materializes, and Jones is a good piece for their future.

14. Patriots — Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness

Van Ness, who starred at Barrington High School and is nicknamed “Hercules,” is an explosive pass rusher who already has NFL size.

15. Packers — Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer

ESPN’s scouting department gave Mayer the ninth-highest grade in this draft class, but he’ll still be available here as teams chase quarterbacks and other premium positions early.

16. Commanders — Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes

The Commanders need more help on offense than defense, but their secondary needs reinforcement and Forbes is too good to pass up.

17. Steelers — Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

It’s often a good bet to draft players who grew up in an NFL family, and Porter’s father was a longtime star for the Steelers who later went into coaching.

18. Lions — Clemson DE Myles Murphy

With pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson on one side and Murphy on the other, the Lions could fix their defensive problems very quickly.

19. Buccaneers — Maryland CB Deonte Banks

Banks, who started as a true freshman, ran the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash of any player at the combine at 4.35 seconds.

20. Seahawks — Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Justin Fields’ former teammate had 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021 before missing most of last season with a hamstring injury.

21. Chargers — Utah TE Dalton Kincaid

It’s not a great year for tight ends, but Kincaid was a great playmaker in the passing game last season. This pick would’ve belonged to the Dolphins, but the NFL stripped it from them for tampering violations.

22. Ravens — TCU WR Quentin Johnston

Johnston’s stock has slipped since being shut down in the National Championship Game, but he’s still one of the best at his position.

23. Vikings — USC WR Jordan Addison

The Vikings are looking for a wide receiver after Adam Thielen left in free agency, and Addison averaged more than 1,000 yards per season in college.

24. Jaguars — Tennessee OT Darnell Wright

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been making progress, and the best way for the Jaguars to continue that is to keep upgrading their offensive line.

25. Giants — Boston College WR Zay Flowers

The Giants have struggled with drafting and signing wide receivers the last few years and can get it right by picking Flowers.

26. Cowboys — Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey

Kancey stormed into the first round with impressive workouts and got a boost by running the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds — the fastest ever by a defensive tackle at the combine.

27. Bills — Clemson DT Bryan Bresee

Bresee’s draft stock has been volatile, but he’s a first-rounder either way. He was excellent as a run stopper and pass rusher at Clemson.

28. Bengals — Georgia CB Kelee Ringo

In the last two seasons, Georgia has won two championships and would have nine first-round picks if Ringo goes here.

29. Saints — Georgia Tech OLB Keion White

White made a big jump after starting out at Old Dominion and held his own in the ACC. He had 14 tackles for loss, including 712 sacks, last season.

30. Eagles — Texas RB Bijan Robinson

Robinson is one of the top talents in the draft, but he plays a position that few teams value. The Eagles have the luxury of taking a running back in this spot.

31. Chiefs — Oklahoma OT Anton Harrison

This is how great teams stay on top: Let a veteran like Orlando Brown leave for huge money in free agency and replace him with a first-rounder on a rookie contract.

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