What are the Bears going to do in the 2024 NFL Draft?

The Chicago Bears once again find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. Now you might ask how is the possibility of having the number one pick in the 2024 draft via the Carolina Panthers going to leave them in that position?

It’s a valid question and the reason is because if they move on from Fields and it goes pear shaped, it will be hard to recover. The alternative is to stay with Fields and pass for the second year running on drafting a new QB first overall. If they do that and it doesn’t work out, the Bears will be ridiculed for not taking their chance when they had it.

2024 is a franchise defining draft for Chicago. The pressure is firmly on the Bears to not mess up and they might be more focused on not making the wrong decision, rather than making the right one.

So what are the options for Chicago?…

1. Stick with Fields

Justin Fields was drafted in 2021 and it has been a turbulent time for him since he arrived in the windy city. He hasn’t had it easy and he hasn’t had an offensive line capable of protecting him. Numerous coaching changes and without the best set of targets to help him, there has often been the question lingering as to whether or not he is the future in Chicago.

One aspect of his game that has excited fans and gained him plaudits, has been his ability to run the ball, extend plays and often produce highlight worthy runs finishing with a TD. On the flip side of that has been his lack of prowess in the passing game. He hasn’t surpassed 2500 passing yards in a single season and that has called into question if he is capable of being the pocket passer that many want him to be.

Fields over his time has shown great strength of character to deal with all that has been thrown at him. The one thing that cannot be denied is that he is talented, but in a results driven business, his results haven’t been strong enough to cement his place as the future and to take away the Bears potential doubts. 

Now if the Bears decide to stick by Fields, then 2024 becomes the biggest season in recent memory for Chicago. It would have to be a dramatic improvement and in order for that to happen, the front office will need to work diligently at adding strength in the right areas. They need to bolster their O-line and get some players who can give Fields some time to develop as a passer.

There is potential to add some more weapons around D.J Moore, the player they drafted off the back of trading away the number one pick in this year’s draft. If they could add some more pieces to strengthen their offense, they might find a way to create a more balanced and consistent unit, capable of putting up points and more importantly winning games.

Sticking with Fields is not a bad option, a young athletic QB who has plenty of strengths and upsides to his game.

2. Draft Caleb Williams at #1 overall

The USC quarterback is being touted as a generational talent and franchise changer.

Comparisons have been made between Williams and Patrick Mahomes, Mahomes being the quarterback the Bears passed on when taking Mitch Trubisky. Williams is a slightly smaller QB, but the kid is an out and out play maker. He has an elusive ability to keep plays alive and for quite some time now he has been the projected number one pick. The upside is obvious: you have a raw but extremely talented quarterback in Williams, he brings that unknown side to it all, the potential ‘what if?…’ if we take him.

The potential downside is he, like Fields, may not be a great pocket passer, yet. So again with the lack of protection available, Williams would be put into a very similar spot as the one Fields is in and that is scrambling for your life and having to produce off schedule plays, whilst gaining yardage with his legs. Carolina is the perfect example of how taking a talented QB with the first pick, doesn’t mean that things will improve quickly. Often it is a tough watch before it improves.

So I would say it’s a real toss of the coin as to whether the juice is worth the squeeze. You also need to consider that if the Bears start fresh with a new rookie QB they have a much cheaper contract to pay, so that will play its part too.

3. Williams returns to USC and the Bears select Drake Maye (or other QB)

There is the possibility that Williams doesn’t like where he could potentially land and he has left the door open for a return to USC and delaying entering the NFL. So if that happens, could the Bears still draft a Quarterback? The answer is yes and there are still plenty of exciting candidates to choose from. Drake Maye from North Carolina has been highly respected and is likely to be snapped up very fast.

Maye looks like a likely starter in the NFL next season, he has been pressured an incredible amount this season and managed to produce some genius plays and that will grab the attention of any team needing a QB. Other quarterbacks to note are Michigan’s J.J McCarthy, Jayden Daniels of LSU, Oregons Bo Nix and Washingtons Michael Penix Jr. All very talented QB’s in their own right and they all make up what will be a QB heavy first round in the 2024 draft.

Jayden Daniels is one QB who I would keep an extra close eye on, following in the footsteps of Joe Burrow he has lit it up for LSU this season. He is a very young QB at only 22 years old, but LSU knows how to produce a quality quarterback and I think he has an extremely high ceiling. 

With all that being said, the decision for the Bears is only going to get harder, especially if Fields plays well down the stretch. GM Ryan Poles has stuck by Fields well, especially considering he wasn’t a QB drafted by him. But the carrot is being dangled and it will be hard to not grab it. If I was the Bears I’d stick with Fields, yes it’s risky, but every decision is risky at this point. They have a good secondary that is improving. It would be huge if they could work out a way to keep cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

They brought in Montez Sweat who is having a good impact and they will have one of the better available cap spaces in 2024, so they will have the opportunity to bring in some talent to the roster. The key is bolstering the offensive line, which has to be target number one. Trade away the number one pick and get as much as you can for it and then go about giving Fields some more talent to work with.

Chicago could then enter next season with the chance to take a considerable step forward. I do believe the coaching staff would need to have a rethink about how they approach play calling but that is partly down to them and partly down to what pieces they currently have available.

It’s going to be a storyline to follow and it is one that is only going to get more intense as each week passes. As previously mentioned, I believe the Bears will be more concerned about making the wrong decision, vs making the right one. Behind the scenes they will be doing all their due diligence and every Bears fan will be hoping that they find a way to make the decision that brings back exciting and winning football to Soldier Field.