The 2023 NFL Draft is upon us and Chicago Bears fans will finally hear the much-anticipated first round selection by the Monsters of the Midway on Thursday night.
The Bears had the worst record in the NFL last season, yet there’s excitement around what the future holds in the Windy City. Chicago seems to have finally found a franchise QB in Justin Fields, and that alone has rejuvenated the city’s love for pigskin.
The Bears were also quite active at the start of free agency, adding pieces that have analysts wondering if the team could compete for a playoff spot next season. But before that can happen, general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus must knock it out of the park with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.
Let’s layout everything Bears fans should be looking for tonight in Kansas City:
QB heavy draft is a positive for Chicago
The top picks of the NFL Draft are expected to be flooded with passers. The four players with top odds at IL sportsbook to go number one are QBs.
This helped the Bears trade the first pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for WR D.J. Moore, along with other draft capital. Carolina and a handful of other teams are desperate for a franchise QB which made the Bears first overall pick quite valuable.
When the NFL Draft kicks off at 7 p.m. CT tonight, Bears fans should be rooting for passers to fly off the board. The Bears have no need for a QB prospect, so the more that get drafted before the ninth pick, the better because it will give Chicago a wider selection of players from positions they have actual interest in drafting.
Even if there are some blue chip QB prospects left when Chicago is on the clock at nine, the Bears could always trade back and acquire even more draft capital from a QB-needy team. Poles expressed his willingness to do so earlier this offseason so don’t be shocked to see the Monsters of the Midway trade its first round pick for a second time.
Who will the Bears draft ninth overall?
Now that we’ve covered some things to look out for, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty and discuss which players have the best odds of donning a Bears hat after shaking hands with commissioner Roger Goodell.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook IL, the Bears going with an offensive linemen is favored at -180, and defensive linemen trails at +180. It makes sense considering the Bears are still rebuilding and teams that have successfully transitioned out of that phase have traditionally addressed each side of the line first.
If Georgia DT Jalen Carter is miraculously still on the board when the Bears are picking, he’s a shoo-in to be drafted. Carter is arguably the best player in the NFL Draft — regardless of position. But off the field issues are likely to prevent him from going top three, but it’s a pipe dream that he’ll be available for Chicago.
Instead, it’s far more likely the Bears select an offensive tackle. At FanDuel Sportsbook IL, these players have the best shots at being drafted to the Bears:
- Darnell Wright – Tennessee (+300)
- Peter Skoronski – Northwestern (+380)
- Paris Johnson – Ohio State (+380)
Chicagoans cringed a lot last season each time Fields got clobbered by a pass rusher – and it happened a lot. The Bears allowed 58 sacks, the fourth-highest total in the NFL.
The most logical thing for Poles and Eberflus to do is snag a player that will protect Fields. Chicago’s executives have invested a lot of cap space on the defense this offseason, but now it’s time to help out the franchise QB.
University of Illinois player projected to go top 10
Fighting Illini CB Devon Witherspoon is the top defensive back in the NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Focus. At FanDuel, Witherspoon is the odds on favorite at +100 to be picked sixth overall by the Detroit Lions.
The last time an Illinois player went top 10 in the NFL Draft was 1996 when LB Kevin Hardy was picked second, followed by DE Simeon Rice at three. The Fighting Illini won’t be getting two players in the first round this year, but the school does have a few other prospects expected to hear their names called.
A notable one being RB Chase Brown, who has the second-most rushing yards in Illinois history. Some experts believe the Bears could keep him in the Land of Lincoln by drafting him in the late rounds.
Can you bet on the NFL Draft at IL sportsbooks?
Since mobile sportsbooks were legalized in 2020, Illinoisans have been lucky to access NFL Draft prop betting. This is thanks to the regulations set by the Illinois Gaming Board.
But not all states allow betting on the NFL Draft. Take New York for example: the state gaming commission doesn’t believe the draft fits into the definition of a sports wager because there’s no athletic event or competition involved.
So if you decide to wager on the 2023 NFL Draft, don’t take it for granted because not all sports betting states allow it. To place a bet, check out the markets available on these seven licensed IL sportsbooks: