The Chicago Bears are on the clock…After a wild Week 18 matchup between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts which saw the Texans convert a 4th-and-12, 4th-and-20, and 2-pt conversion en route to a game-winning drive in Indianapolis, the Bears landed the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Unlike most teams toward the top of the draft, the Bears have already found their franchise quarterback.
While it’s possible that the Bears keep their pick and take Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr. or George interior defensive lineman Jalen Carter, they will most likely trade out of the top slot. Bryce Young and CJ Stroud each showed out in their respective team’s bowl games. Against Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, Young threw for 321 yards and 5 touchdowns. In the College Football Playoffs against the country’s top defense, CJ Stroud threw for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns and set up the Buckeyes for a potential game-winner.
5. New York Jets
The New York Jets are perhaps the most QB-needy team in the NFL. They have an elite defense, a great running attack, and a young star receiver in Garrett Wilson. Despite all of that, they burned out at the end of the year and missed the playoffs after a 7-4 start. Throughout the year, they had three quarterbacks start at least four games.
The solution for New York may not be trading up for a rookie quarterback, though. A veteran like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo should be able to get the job done in the short term. On top of that, the Jets sit at pick 13 which makes a trade-up fairly difficult. To get Young or Stroud, the Jets may have to give up three first-rounders.
4. Houston Texans
At first glance, there would be no reason for the Texans to move up from #2 to #1. Should the Bears stay at the top slot, the Texans will still get their choice of the three highly-touted QB prospects. If the Bears trade their pick, however, the Texans may not get a chance to take their favorite quarterback.
If the Texans are happy to take any of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, or Will Levis, then throw this proposition out the door. However, a trade like this is not unprecedented. In 2017, these same Chicago Bears traded up one spot from 3rd to 2nd to ensure they’d be able to draft Mitch Trubisky. By winning on Sunday, the Texans may have cost themselves Bryce Young. By trading up to the top slot, they completely eliminate that possibility.
3. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are the perfect trade-up candidate. They showed major improvements this season, finishing 7-10 and only one win away from a playoff appearance. Between Baker Mayfield, PJ Walker, and Sam Darnold, the Panthers got poor production from the quarterback position in 2022. They currently hold the ninth overall pick, meaning they’d almost certainly need to trade up to land one of Young, Stroud, or Levis.
With the right moves, the Panthers could be contenders to win their division in 2023. Giving up next year’s first-round pick to land Young or Stroud is a big risk, but they’re in the perfect position to build a playoff contender around a rookie quarterback.
2. Las Vegas Raiders
With Derek Carr, the Raiders had been stable at the quarterback position for nearly a decade. Now, it seems unlikely that Carr returns as the starter next season. Instead, the Raiders should be looking to draft their next franchise quarterback. They hold the 7th overall pick, but it’s possible that none of the top quarterback options make it to their pick.
To ensure the ability to draft a quarterback, the Raiders could opt to trade up to #1. The Raiders already have a great receiving core assuming Davante Adams sticks around, which would only make the transition to the NFL easier for whoever they draft.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been looking for their next franchise quarterback ever since Andrew Luck stepped away from the team in 2018. Since then, the Colts have started Jacoby Brissett, Carson Wentz, and Philip Rivers, among others, yielding mixed results. This year, with Matt Ryan under center, the wheels finally fell off. The Colts finished 4-12-1 and landed the 4th overall selection in the upcoming draft.
Unlike the typical tanking team, the Colts’ win on Sunday significantly improved their chances of landing a top-flight quarterback prospect. The Colts may be the most enticing trade candidate for Chicago since it’s very unlikely that both Will Anderson Jr. and Jalen Carter are off the board at #4. The bidding war for the top draft selection may lead to a hefty price tag, but finding your franchise quarterback is essential for a rebuild. The Colts and Bears are perfect trade partners ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Who do you think ends up with the 1st overall pick in the NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments below!
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