NFL Draft Notebook: Chicago Bears bolster offense in NFL mock draft; Texans get scary legit

A look at what the Chicago Bears may do in the 2024 NFL Draft beyond Caleb Williams.
UCLA v USC / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

The Chicago Bears hold the number one pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and are the only team with two picks in the top ten of the NFL Draft. Look for them to use both picks to upgrade an offense that only averaged 21 points a game last season. While the team has very little capital after the first round not posing a second-round pick or a selection after the fourth round they should be able to add at least quality depth in the middle of the draft.

This week’s NFL Draft Notebook examines what the Chicago Bears may do in the 2024 NFL Draft. This edition of NDN also talks about why the Houston Texans are now the second-best team in the AFC, previews a couple of 2025 NFL Draft prospects, and much more.

Chicago Bears 2024 NFL Mock Draft: A look beyond Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams. . 1. player. . . QB, USC. Caleb Williams. 57. Caleb Williams

This move is a no brainer for the Chicago Bears as Caleb Williams is the best quarterback to come out of college since Joe Burrow came out in 2020. Williams has all the skills to be a great quarterback including impressive arm strength, good accuracy, and the ability to make play in and out of the pocket. It would almost be a disappointment if Williams doesn’t become the best quarterback in Bears history.

. Rome Odunze. Rome Odunze. 57. WR, Washington. Rome Odunze. 9. player. .

The Bears are likely trying to decide about going with a wide receiver or pass rusher with this pick. However, when it is all said and done if one of the top three receivers is still on the board look for them to go with an elite playmaking receiver with this pick. Washington’s Rome Odunze is a true deep threat having led the country in targets of more than 20 yards downfield and hauling in 21 of his 28 contested targets this season. He would make a scary combination with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen.

Brandon Dorlus. 75. 57. player. Brandon Dorlus. Brandon Dorlus. . . DT, Oregon.

The Bears lost last year’s starting three-technique defensive tackle Justin Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. While the team hopes his replacement is 2023 second-round pick Gervon Dexter, he only had 2.5 sacks last season. Oregon's Brandon Dorlus is a quick pass rusher who accounted for five sacks in 2023 and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds which was the second fastest time among defensive tackles.

Zak Zinter. . 122. 57. . Brandon Dorlus. OG, Michigan. . Brandon Dorlus. player

The Chicago Bears use their last pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to again address the offensive side of the ball. This time they take Michigan Zak Zinter who would not be available at this point of the draft if he had not suffered a season-ending broken fibula and tibia. The 2023 first-team All-American selection shows impressive strength and routinely knocks his man off the ball. He would likely compete for one of the starting guard jobs as a rookie and could be the replacement for Teven Jenkins who is scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.

NFL Draft news and notes

The second-best team in the AFC: The most improved team in football over the last season is the Houston Texans. Going into the 2023 NFL Draft they had the second overall selection, and now after an impressive 2023 season and adding several key players this offseason, they are likely the second-best team in the AFC right behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Their latest addition is wide receiver Stefon Diggs who the team traded for this week. His addition combined with the team adding running back Joe Mixon gives the Texans an even more explosive offense that already has several quality playmakers in quarterback C.J. Stroud, and wider receivers Nico Collins, and Tank Dell.

Could the 49ers go wide receiver with the 31st pick: While wide receiver might not seem like a tremendous need for the 49ers there is a chance they could take one in the first round. The team may take a player like Brian Thomas Jr of LSU or Florida State’s Keon Coleman since they will likely have to move on from Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel after next season. If the team can’t agree to terms with Aiyuk they could see him leave as a free agent and if he is resigned to a big deal the 49ers may have to part with Samuel next offseason since both wide receivers will have big contract numbers.

Not a draftable prospect: A player taking part in the final four that is getting some NFL interest is North Carolina State center DJ Burns. While Burns has intriguing size coming at 6-foot-9 276 pounds and moves well for a player his size he is not a legitimate NFL prospect. The main reason for this is he has no real background having not played the game since junior high. His height would also present plenty of problems when it comes to pad level. Another reason for this is he would have a hard time dealing with the physicality of NFL defensive linemen.

New playmakers: Colorado has brought in their share of transfers under Deion Sanders, and this offseason they have brought in two wide receivers who could hear their name called in the 2025 NFL Draft. The highest-rated prospect is former Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard who carried a day three grade on my board, before announcing he would be staying in school. The team also brought LaJohntay Wester who was named first-team All-AAC after catching 108 passes for 1,168 yards last season. Wester is also an excellent return man and was named the AAC Special Teams Player of the Year after averaging 19.9 yards on 14 punt returns last season.

New position: A player who will likely see his NFL Draft stock rise this season is Penn State’s Abdul Carter. One of the reasons for this is he is moving from linebacker to an edge defender. This should allow him to pick up his share of sacks after leading all FBS linebackers with a 24.1percent pass-rush win rate according to Pro Football Focus. If he can register double-digit sacks this season look for him to be a top 15 pick in the 2025 NFL Draft.

One of the best Group of Five defensive lines: A Group of Five school that has a strong defensive line is Tulsa. The group is led by defensive end Ben Kopenski who transferred to Tulsa from Oklahoma State last season. In his one season with the Golden Hurricanes, he recorded 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Another player who will receive NFL interest next year is Owen Ostroski who is Tulsa’s other starting defensive end. Last season, in just nine games he recorded ten tackles for loss.

NFL Draft stats of the week

42: Cincinnati defensive tackle Jowon Briggs did 42 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the Big 12 pro day.

4.96: One player who didn’t help himself at the Big 12 Pro Day was BYU tight end Isaac Rex who ran a 4.96 40-yard dash. This was .19 seconds slower than any tight end ran at the NFL Combine.

240: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers led the Power Five in play-action passes with 240 last year. When he didn't use play-action his 72.2 Pro Football Focus passing grade was 83rd in the nation.

12: The 2025 running back class should be much better than the 2024 class as 12 of the top 15 rushers in the FBS are returning to school.

3: Nebraska has three 2025 prospects who will get looks at tight end. They include Thomas Fidone II and Nate Boerkircher who currently play the position. The other player is quarterback Heinrich Haarberg who will likely move to tight end in the NFL and could see reps at that position for the Huskers this season.