Bears Top Potential Picks At No. 9 After Trade No. 1 Pick To The Panthers

The Chicago Bears finally made the move we all knew they had to make, and now it’s time to take a closer look at their new draft picks. Bears general manager Ryan Poles agreed to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers on Friday.

In exchange for the first overall pick, the Bears received 25-year-old wide receiver DJ Moore, the Panthers’ first-rounder (No. 9) and second-rounder (No. 61) in 2023 as well as Carolina’s 2024 first-round pick and 2025 second round pick.

Moore gives the Bears a legitimate No. 1 receiver under contract for the next three seasons, though only the 2023 campaign is guaranteed. Moore’s deal will pay him $19.9 million in 2023. If Moore is not released after the upcoming season, he will make $15.8 million and $14.8 million in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Even after acquiring Moore’s contract, the Bears still have close to $75 million in cap space headed to free agency.

With Moore teaming up with Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Cole Kmet, Velus Jones, Equanimeous St. Brown and maybe another rookie, it looks like Justin Fields now has more formidable production arms in 2023.

WC Gridiron’s Jacob Infante is on the same page:

After the trade, the Bears now have the following picks available in the 2023 NFL Draft:

  • Round 1-9 (from Panthers)
  • Round 2-53 (by Ravens)
  • Round 2-61 (by Panthers)
  • Round 3-64
  • Round 4-103
  • Round 4-133 (by Eagles)
  • Round 5-136
  • Round 5-148 (by Ravens)
  • Round 7-218
  • Round 7-258 (supplementary option)

With the No. 9 pick, the Bears will likely miss out on the opportunity to select Alabama’s Will Anderson with their first-round pick. However, Anderson may not have been the No. 1 player on the Poles’ board.

There could be three players the Pole is now focusing on with a Top-5 prospect still potentially within his grasp.

Here are five players Bears fans might want to get familiar with over the next month.

Calijah Kancey, DT

Thanks to the success of former Pitt Panthers star and future Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Aaron Donald, there is a keen eye on the top inside linebacker coming out of the program.

One of the standouts from the 2023 NFL Combine is Panthers alum Calijah Kancey. His stature is strikingly similar to Donald, and his display of pure athleticism was even more impressive than the Rams star at the combine.

According to, Kancey scored a 94 in pure athleticism and is the second player at his position overall. At 6’1″, 281 pounds, Kancey ran the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds. That’s the fastest 40 for a defensive tackle in 20 years.

Kancey is shorter than most teams would like at defensive tackle. However, Donald’s success has helped silence some of the critics who limit prospects to the position because of their height.

Kancey is expected to have his name listed between No. 8 and No. 15 in many mock drafts.’s Lance Zierlein likened Kancey to another former Hall-of-Famer, former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle John Randle.

If this is the player Kancey becomes, he would help fill a huge need for a Bears defense that ranked dead last in points allowed and 29th in yards given up in 2022.

Tyree Wilson, DE

At 6’6”, 271 pounds, Texas Tech’s Tyree Wilson is a huge defensive end prospect. Zierlein offered an Ezekiel Ansah combo for Wilson, which might not excite Bears fans considering the former Detroit Lions draft pick had just two breakout seasons in 2014 and 2016, when he was 26-of-50. 5 career sacks.

Wilson is considered the No. 2 defensive end prospect in the draft behind Anderson.

As a senior, Wilson recorded seven sacks to match his total in that category from his junior campaign. Wilson appears to have less potential to flourish or fail than Anderson, but it appears his ceiling is lower than the Crimson Tide star who could develop into the second coming of Von Miller.

Either way, Bears fans will be hearing Wilson’s name a lot in the coming weeks.

Christian Gonzalez, CB

As one of the most dynamic athletes in the draft at any position, Gonzalez is a player the Bears could consider, even though cornerback may not be at the top of their list of needs. Chicago has Jaylon Johnson and 2022 Draft Kyler Gordon in position to start at cornerback, but in today’s NFL, every team needs three capable guys at the position with the number of three- and four-receiver sets a defense will face.

Gonzalez posted an impressive 4.38 40-yard dash and 41.5” vertical jump at the NFL Combine. That performance followed a junior season at Oregon that saw him record four interceptions after transferring from Colorado.

The Bears could potentially solidify their cornerback position by taking Gonzalez and pairing him with Johnson and Gordon. The former can serve as insurance for the Poles in case they are unable to re-sign Johnson, who is set to be a free agent after the upcoming season.

Jalen Carter, DT

Georgia’s defense was notoriously stingy in 2022, allowing opponents just 77 yards per game. Jalen Carter was arguably the biggest reason for her dominance. Carter is a Top-2 prospect on the big boards of several NFL talent evaluators after a stellar 2023 season that saw him anchor the National Champions’ defense. On the field, Carter is considered a Pro-Bowl talent, according to Zierlein, but there are question marks about his maturity.

Carter was arrested on misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in connection with a crash that killed one of his teammates and a team assistant. ESPN’s Todd McShay has Carter falling as low as the 12th pick in a recent mock draft. The Bears and other teams will do their homework on Carter, and it’s possible the catch will hurt his draft stock.

While Carter might have been too much of a risk as a Top-5 pick, the Bears could be more willing to take a chance on the ultra-talented linebacker at No. 9. Still, the Bears and Poles have tons of pressure to find success with the assets they received in exchange for the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

The Panthers’ No.9 position is one of the biggest pieces and the Poles may not want to risk it on a player they believe will bring baggage off the field.

The Poles and the Bears could meet with Carter and determine there are no character concerns and could take him at No. 9 if it falls to them. If that happens, the Bears might get the steal of the draft, provided no additional issues arise.

Peter Skoronski, O.T

The safest and perhaps most logical option for the Bears could be Northwestern offensive tackle Peter Skoronski. His pick might not be the sexiest for Bears fans, but considering Fields was sacked 55 times in 2022, which equated to 14.7% of his drop backs, it’s clear how important the addition of protection is to the offensive line in the grand scheme of things.

The Bears have Braxton Jones – who turned out to be a gem in the rough from the 2022 NFL Draft – at left tackle, but there’s an open hole on the right side where Chicago could target a player like Mike McGlinchey in free agency. If the Poles decide to go that route, it will make it unlikely they will turn to Skoronski in the draft – unless they want to move Jones into a swing role.

As it stands, Skoronski at right tackle with Jones at left would still be an overall improvement for the Bears’ offensive line. Not only did Skoronski go to college in nearby Evanston, but he’s from Park Ridge, which means there’s sentimental value to his selection by his hometown team.

He’s projected to be a starter in his first year in the NFL, which Chicago needs, but Zierlein sees him more as a guard than a tackle, which explains the lofty comparison to Dallas Cowboys all-world lineman Zack Martin.

If this is accurate, do the Bears really want to draft a guard at No. 9? If so, that’s a pick that was widely criticized, but could make sense if the plan is to address the tackle position in free agency.

The blackout period for negotiations begins on Monday, March 13, so we should find out quickly which way Chicago is headed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *