The Chicago Bears are a week removed from their blockbuster trade down with the Carolina Panthers that saw them move down eight spots from No. 1 overall and bring in a significant haul of draft picks along with star wide receiver D.J. Moore, but a former Bears scout thinks they might not be done trading just yet.
Greg Gabriel recently sat down with Aldo Gandia for the Barroom Network podcast on March 15 and discussed all things Bears over the course of their nearly two-hour-long conversation, including what he has heard from his league sources about how general manager Ryan Poles may be approaching the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.
“I don’t think they’re done trading yet,” Gabriel told Gandia. “I just think that there’s a better than 50-50 chance that [Poles] trades out of 9 and goes down a little bit.”
Now, Gabriel has roughly four decades of experience as an NFL scout and spent nine of those years as the Bears’ director of college scouting, so he is bound to have a few direct connections to Halas Hall and some of the conversations taking place at the moment. That doesn’t necessarily mean his intel is spot on for Chicago, but it does make sense that Poles would be looking to potentially trade down again given the Bears currently have a long waiting period between their No. 9 pick and their next one at No. 53.
“I think there’s a good possibility they could try to trade out of that [No. 9 overall pick],” Gabriel said, adding that picking up an additional early-round pick in the second would be beneficial to the Bears as they seek out the best-value players. “In fact, that 20 to 50 range is really, really strong in this draft and where they’re picking in the second round, they’re going to get a good player, there’s no question, but you’ve got to get lucky, too. You’ve got to hope guys you think are going don’t go and now you’ve got a shot at him.”
Greg Gabriel Throws Out Steelers Trade Scenario
Gabriel also threw out a hypothetical trade partner for Chicago in Pittsburgh.
Since the rationale for moving further down in the first round would be to pick up a better pick or two in the second round, Gabriel suggested the Bears may be interested in cutting a deal with Pittsburgh, who own two picks in the first half of the second round — including the Bears’ original second-round pick at No. 32 overall that they gave up to acquire wide receiver Chase Claypool at the 2022 season’s trade deadline in November.
If the Steelers are motivated to move up, the Bears could offer them the No. 9 pick for their No. 17 pick in exchange for swapping a pair of picks in the second round. The move would drop the Bears down another eight spots in the first-round order, but they would also get back on the clock faster with their Nos. 53 and 61 picks getting flipped for the Nos. 32 and 48 picks in the draft and be able to better attack the area of the draft where Gabriel believes the most talent resides. There would certainly be a little less finger-crossing for the Bears if they had three picks in the top 50.
Then again, Gabriel isn’t sure if the Steelers have any motivations to move up to No. 9, hence why it is just hypothetical.
Who Could Bears Target With Another Top 50 Pick?
Let’s assume the Bears do cut another trade-back deal and manage to pick up at least one more pick in the top 50 selections: Which prospects might they want to target?
If they land someone in the 30s, Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz would be a sensible option for the Bears. He is a powerful pass-protector at a key position of need with more than two seasons of starting experience against Big Ten competition, making him an ideal foundational piece for a team looking to shore up its offensive line.
Some of the edge rushers could also be of high interest. Keion White, Nolan Smith and Adetomiwa Adebawore are talents who could potentially interest teams in the mid-to-late first rounds of the draft but would be tremendous values if they slipped into the second. The Bears have added former Tennessee Titans defensive end DeMarcus Walker and Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle Andrew Billings to their line through the first wave of free agency, but a long-term, high-ceiling talent on the edges or the interior is, perhaps, the highest need on the Bears’ priority list at the moment.