In 1940, the Bears took Tom Harmon, the first Heisman Trophy winner in the University of Michigan’s history, but he never played a game for the Bears, pursuing careers in acting and broadcasting before joining the U.S. Army Aircorps.
In 1946, the Bears selected Oklahoma A&M running back Bob Fenimore first overall despite lingering knee issues. Those issues limited him to just one professional season.
Now, the Bears are on the clock again, hoping for a franchise-altering selection. No team has ever had the No. 1 pick and then won the Super Bowl the following year. It will be a tough task for the Bears as they have +6600 odds (BetMGM) to win the Super Bowl next year.
The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on April 27-29. Unlike last season when a quarterback wasn’t taken until Pittsburgh selected Kenny Pickett 20th overall, three of the top five prospects in this year’s draft are quarterbacks – Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.
That gives the Bears plenty of options, as they already have a young quarterback in Justin Fields, who showed improvement as a passer in his second season and proved to be a major threat as a runner, rushing for over 1,100 yards last season. Who gets selected first overall depends on what direction the Bears decide to go in.
What if They Trade the Pick?
Assuming that they’re satisfied with the flashes of potential Fields has shown, a likely theory is that the Bears would trade the No. 1 pick for a collection of assets from a more quarterback-needy team. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has already reported that the Bears will have “unbelievable offers” for that pick.
That scenario appears to be the most popular belief in betting circles, as Young has the best odds of being selected first overall. Stroud is following closely, with Levis and Richardson rising fast as prospects in recent weeks.
Odds to Be the Number One Overall Pick:
Bryce Young, QB
CJ Stroud, QB
Jalen Carter, DT
Anthony Richardson, QB
Will Levis, QB
Teams with top 10 picks who have major needs at the quarterback position include the Houston Texans (No. 2), Indianapolis Colts (No. 4), Seattle Seahawks (No. 5), Las Vegas Raiders (No. 7), Atlanta Falcons (No. 8), and Carolina Panthers (No. 9). The Seahawks in particular have extra draft capital thanks to last season’s Russell Wilson trade and could be an intriguing team to watch if they decide to go get their quarterback of the future.
What if They Trade Fields?
Fields was at times an exciting playmaker in an otherwise dreary season for the talent-deficient Bears. He also drew praise for his toughness playing behind a patchwork offensive line while taking a lot of hits – he was sacked 55 times last season and has already been sacked 91 times in his career. But he was also drafted in the first round by Chicago’s previous general manager, so it isn’t a surprise that there have also been rumors that the Bears may elect to keep the pick and trade Fields instead.
If they traded Fields, that would be a definite sign a quarterback is being selected No. 1 overall, and Young would continue to be the best bet. But don’t count Levis out if the Bears do go the quarterback route. The biggest knock on Young is his lack of size, and with the Bears unlikely to fill all of their offensive line and skill position gaps in one off season, the much bigger Levis could have some appeal from a durability perspective.
Odds to Be the First Quarterback Taken in the NFL Draft:
What if They Keep the Pick?
It’s not unheard of that rumors of teams lining up to make blockbuster trade offers for the No. 1 pick fail to materialize. If the Bears are both content with Fields and underwhelmed by trade offers, they also do have great options for keeping the pick.
The team needs talent upgrades offensively and defensively. Fields lobbied in an interview for the team to take a fellow Ohio State player, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But Smith-Njigba would be a major reach at No. 1, and there are no skill position prospects outside of quarterback who merit consideration there. So if the team keeps the pick and keeps Fields, it’s a definite signal that they’re drafting defense.
Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson are both great value bets at +700 and +1500 odds to be taken first overall, respectively. Expect those to climb significantly if draft day arrives and the Bears haven’t traded either the pick or Fields. If you are looking for how to bet on the NFL, visit our NFL betting guide.
Whatever ends up happening, the Bears narrowly edging out Houston for the top pick certainly created more potential scenarios to play out than if a team with a more straightforward need at quarterback had received the pick.