2023 NFL mock draft: Chicago Bears first overall pick – Jalen Carter, Will Anderson Jr. or trade?

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The Chicago Bears stole the No. 1 overall pick from the Houston Texans at the final hurdle, as Chicago added another loss to its season-long tally in Week 18 whereas Houston picked up a costly win over the Indianapolis Colts. With their 32-31 victory over the Colts, the Texans improved to 3-13-1. Interestingly, it was also a tie in Week 1 against Indianapolis that “helped” Houston finish with a better record than 3-14 Chicago. 
As such, the Bears are for all intents and purposes on the clock. Although quarterbacks go No. 1 more often than not, Chicago is seemingly set at that position in the form of Justin Fields. Will the front office decide to address one of its other needs or will it shop the top pick on the trade market to a team that is desperate for a QB? 
Now that the draft order is set, it’s time to break down the odds to go No. 1 overall and discuss the contenders who will find themselves at or near the top of all mock drafts. 

Odds to be selected No. 1 overall in NFL Draft 

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is a slight favorite to go No. 1 overall, while Ohio State signal-caller C.J. Stroud is not far behind as the second choice. 
Here is the list of the top-10 favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook: 

  • Bryce Young -125 
  • C.J. Stroud +175 
  • Will Anderson Jr. +600 
  • Jalen Carter +800 
  • Will Levis +1500 
  • Anthony Richardson +6000 
  • Paris Johnson +7500 
  • Peter Skoronski +7500 
  • Bryan Bresee +10000 
  • Nolan Smith +20000

NFL mock draft No. 1 overall pick: Jalen Carter (+800)

Bears general manager Ryan Poles would not 100% commit to Fields when he spoke to the media on Tuesday, but obviously that is just about maintaining leverage. He was never going to come out and say, “we definitely aren’t taking a quarterback.” Poles did admit that he would have to be “absolutely blown away” by a QB in the 2023 class in order to go in that direction. The bottom line is that Fields was good enough in 2022 to inspire long-term confidence.

Will Chicago trade out? It’s possible, but there is more than just 1 great quarterback available; it’s not just Young. Stroud projects to be an outstanding pro and there are high expectations for Kentucky’s Will Levis, too. A QB-craving franchise like Houston or Indianapolis does not necessarily have to jump up all the way to No. 1 to get a stud.

If the Bears stay in the top spot, I will put my eggs into the Jalen Carter basket — especially at relatively long +800 odds. Carter just led Georgia to back-to-back National Championships and was simply dominant on the defensive line along the way. Carter’s numbers may not be off the charts, but neither were those of fellow UGA defensive star Travon Walker and Walker went No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars last year.

NFL mock draft other No. 1 pick contenders, including Bryce Young

There are, of course, scenarios in which Young or Stroud could go No. 1. The Bears can stockpile picks by trading out, or they could keep the top selection and still add more picks. They could do that by drafting a QB and then trading Fields. Young is a former Heisman Trophy winner and as en encore he threw for 32 touchdowns compared to only 5 interceptions this past season. Meanwhile, Stroud is a 2-time Heisman finalist and over the past 2 seasons racked up 85 passing TDs to just 12 INTs. He ran circles around UGA’s uber-talented defense in the Peach Bowl semifinal and almost led his team to the title game, losing 42-41.

Young and Stroud are great options, to be sure, but with Chicago instead of Houston holding the No. 1 pick and their short odds (-125 and +174, respectively), there is better value on Carter.

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