The Chicago Bears currently control the #3 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft. It isn’t yet clear if that will stay true. There are still six games left to play. However, with a banged-up quarterback, a thin roster, and a tough remaining schedule, it’s difficult not to envision them staying in the top five. This has led to tons of speculation and theories about which direction GM Ryan Poles decides to go. There is no shortage of potential options that will be available. They could add a desperately needed pass rusher like Will Anderson, a three-technique defensive tackle like Jalen Carter, or they might target a top offensive prospect to help Justin Fields. Longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had an opinion on that.
He spoke to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times about what the Bears might do at #3 overall. He made one thing clear from the start. Don’t expect them to target an offensive prospect. In his estimation, there isn’t a player on that side of the ball in this class worthy of going that high. That means one of two things will happen. Either they’ll take the best defensive player on their board or trade down with a team seeking a quarterback.
“Trading down and letting somebody get that third quarterback is always [a possibility] — you can get a lot in return,” Kiper said. “You’re not going to get a receiver there. There’s no offensive lineman to take at [No. 3]. There’s nobody on the offensive side of the ball to take at 3 other than a quarterback.”
“There’s no top-10 receiver right now,” Kiper said. “Maybe Jordan Addison at USC. Maybe Quentin Johnston at TCU. Josh Downs at North Carolina. Jaxon Smith-Njigba [of Ohio State] would have been in the top 10, but he’s been hurt. The guy I really like is Zay Flowers from Boston College. He’s the most underrated receiver in this draft.”
Mel Kiper has a pretty good feel for these things.
Last year in his final mock draft, he correctly predicted the position targets on seven of the first eight picks. He was right about Jacksonville and Detroit targeting defensive ends, the Jets seeking a corner, the Giants grabbing a defensive end and offensive tackle, the Panthers taking a tackle, and the Falcons taking a wide receiver. So when he says the likelihood is low that any non-QB offensive prospects will go in the top three, it’s a safe assumption he is probably correct. NFL teams are likely to see it the same way.
That makes what happens at #1 and #2 quite interesting for the Bears. If both end up being quarterbacks, Poles will have his choice of the best defensive player on his board. Chicago’s defense desperately needs a talent infusion, especially up front. However, if one of those defenders goes in either of those first two spots, the Bears would become a premium trade destination for a team seeking a top quarterback. Mel Kiper is correct. It appears to be a strong spot for a team to be in.
Maybe something changes in the next few months, and a top offensive prospect turns heads during the pre-draft process at the Senior Bowl or scouting combine. As things stand, it looks like defense or trade if the Bears stay at #3.