Lovie Smith was the Chicago Bears’ MVP this season. When the Texans’ (now former) coach cooked up a game-winning Hail Mary against the Colts in Week 18, the Bears slid into last place in the standings and secured the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Now, the Bears have full control of the NFL’s offseason. They can keep the first overall pick, adding another stud to a young core, or they can trade down, bringing in some needed draft capital to build around quarterback Justin Fields.
What will the Bears do? Or, more importantly, what SHOULD they do with the first overall pick? Let’s break it down:
If you’re looking for more NFL betting markets as the season winds down, there’s still time to lock in a pick for Super Bowl odds and NFL MVP odds. There are also big awards still to be determined like Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year odds.
Will The Bears Trade The First Overall Pick?
Odds as of January 12
Oddsmakers seemed convinced it won’t be Chicago sending in the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft. According to our odds calculator, the Bears’ -400 odds imply an 80.00 percent chance that they will move down from No. 1.
Should The Bears Trade Down?
So the books think the Bears will trade down, but should they?
The interesting thing about the 2023 draft, and why many think Chicago will trade the top pick, is that there’s a group of two or three QBs (Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Will Levis) projected to go in the first few picks.
On paper, the Bears don’t need a QB with Justin Fields already in the fold, so they’re a natural choice to trade down and take another position later. But the answer isn’t that obvious.
Is Justin Fields The Guy?
Ultimately, this is the question the Bears’ decision-makers need to answer before the 2023 draft.
If Fields is the guy, you’re not drafting a QB. They drafted him 13th overall just two years ago and invested in some young receiving weapons like Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool to elevate him. But, the results have been mixed.
We’ve seen teams give up quickly on QBs, with the Cardinals jumping ship after a year of Josh Rosen and the Jets ditching basically every young QB they’ve drafted for the last decade. But, Fields hasn’t quite been the abject disaster that most of those gunslingers were, making the decision tougher.
There’s no denying what Fields can do with his legs. He was a consistent and efficient runner this season, averaging 76 yards per game on the ground. But through the air he was one of the league’s worst. He surpassed 190 passing yards just twice this season, had six games with under 150 aerial yards, and had a TD:INT ratio of basically 1.5:1. That’s bad.
Fields has essentially been what Lamar Jackson haters think the Ravens QB is. But Jackson is a more efficient passer, gets more yards, turns the ball over less, and actually led the league in passing touchdowns back in 2019. Oh, and he’s also a comparable rusher in quantity and efficiency.
The dual-threat QB can work in the NFL, but barring a significant step forward with his arm, Fields is more of a single threat. Unless the Bears think that step forward will come, the 2023 draft may be Chicago’s only opportunity to change direction.
Who Should The Bears Take If They Stay At No. 1?
The “obvious” answer for Chicago, if they choose to keep the top pick and stick with Fields, is to draft one of the top SEC defenders, Jalen Carter or Will Anderson. If you think that’s going to happen, you can get some pretty nice odds on either.
|QB Bryce Young||-110|
|QB C.J. Stroud||+280|
|DL Jalen Carter||+550|
|LB Will Anderson||+600|
|QB Will Levis||+700|
Odds as of January 12
My take? I think the Bears should call it quits on Fields. He’s got raw potential and he’s a great fantasy football quarterback. But he also just led the team to the worst record in the league. Sure, the team wasn’t great around him, but a good quarterback should at least elevate you out of the basement.
In an ideal world, the Bears can persuade another team to take on the Fields project (Jets? Panthers?) and earn a first-round pick in the process. Then, they take Young, one of the safest QB prospects we’ve seen in the last few years, and start from scratch. You don’t need to build a unique system around Young like you would with Fields. The Bears could just acquire talent, something they’ve lacked for years, and let Young grow alongside the team.
It may seem like one big step back, but trading Fields and drafting a new QB will help the Bears take more steps forward in the future.