With the NFL Draft officially just two weeks away, all NFL teams have been busy meeting with prospects and figuring out their draft strategy.
This goes for the Chicago Bears, too, who currently hold the #1 and #9 overall picks in the first round. It is a foregone conclusion that Caleb Williams will be the pick at #1 overall on April 25.

This idea was only supported after the positive reports that were released after Williams and the Bears held their official Top 30 visit last week. It has been revealed that Williams arrived Tuesday evening and attended dinner with current Bears staff and players in Lake Forest.

On Wednesday, Williams visited Halas Hall, where he reportedly met DJ Moore and Tyrique Stevenson. Furthermore, it is believed this will be Williams’ only top-30 visit and the Bear’s only top-30 visit with a quarterback. 

Now, perhaps the more interesting decision, let’s dig into who may be Caleb Williams’ rookie teammate (these are all players who already had or have scheduled top 30 visits with the Bears).

Marvin Harrison Jr., Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Arguably the second-best player in this year’s draft class, many believe the Bears would need to trade up to obtain Harrison. Harrison, a two-time All-American at Ohio State, won the Biletnikoff Award this season after leading the Big Ten in receiving yards and touchdowns. It was reported that Harrison met with the Bears at Halas Hall on Monday, along with Xavier Worthy, another wide receiver from Texas.

Malik Nabers, Wide Receiver, LSU

According to PFF, Nabers is rated as the #4 overall prospect (#2 receiver) in this draft class. There is debate around the league about whether Nabers or Rome Odunze could fall to #9, thus creating a big three at the receiver position, with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, for Caleb Williams to work with in his rookie year.

In his All-American junior season at LSU, Nabers led the SEC in receptions and receiving yards while playing with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels. Nabers met with the Bears at Halas Hall on Wednesday. 

Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver, Washington

As mentioned earlier, Odunze is considered to be the #2 or #3 receiver, with Nabers, by most draft experts. Again, there is speculation about whether Nabers or Odunze could fall to #9. This season at Washington, Odunze led the nation with 1,640 receiving yards. In addition, he led the Pac-12 in receptions and, in 2022, led the Pac-12 in receiving yards. The Bears hosted Odunze at Halas Hall last Thursday.

Brock Bowers, Tight End, Georgia

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect, Bowers projects to be an elite tight end. The biggest question regarding Bowers is who will be the team to spend a first round pick at this position. This is a question the Bears may be faced with asking themselves on Draft Day, as the idea of pairing Bowers with Cole Kmet could be intriguing for new Offensive Coordinator Shane Waldron.

Bowers is currently ranked as the #7 overall prospect, by far the best tight end according to PFF. At Georgia, Bowers was a two-time All-American and won the Mackey Award this season. It was reported Bowers had lined up a meeting with the Bears in late March; more will become known about this as it becomes available.  

Laiatu Latu, Edge Rusher, UCLA

The Polynesian edge rusher is currently ranked as the #11 overall prospect and #1 edge, according to PFF. It is reasonable to assume that the Bears could trade down for Latu and the remainder of the prospects in this article. Although Latu had a solid 2022 season, he really put on a show this year. Latu was named an All-American and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, while he led the country in tackles for loss and took home the Vince Lombardi (Most Outstanding Lineman) and Ted Hendricks (Best Defensive End) Awards. In addition, Latu led the Pac-12 in sacks and forced fumbles this season. Bears Head Coach and Defensive Playcaller Matt Eberflus has publicly stated his acknowledgment of having a “1-2 punch” on the edges. Pairing Latu, or any of the following edge rushers, with Montez Sweat would be exactly what Eberflus is looking for. Latu confirmed he visited Halas Hall with the Bears via Instagram on Monday.

Dallas Turner, Edge Rusher, Alabama

Another intriguing prospect in this class is that there are strong rumors of Atlanta selecting Turner at #8. However, if Atlanta chooses to pass on Turner, he may slide a bit. According to PFF, Turner is rated as the #16 overall prospect and #2 edge rusher. Different draft outlets have rated Latu, Turner, and Jared Verse (Florida State) intertwined in their edge rankings. This season, Turner was named an All-American in addition to being the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He led the SEC in sacks, was 2nd in tackles for loss, and 4th in forced fumbles.

Similar to Latu, the idea of pairing Turner with Sweat could entice Coach Eberflus. ESPN reporter Courtney Cronin wrote, “(Turner) could be exactly the type of player Eberflus is eyeing to affect opposing quarterbacks.” It was reported that he visited Halas Hall last Wednesday at the same time as Caleb Williams.

JC Latham, Offensive Tackle, Alabama

Along with Turner, Latham is a product of Alabama and Nick Saban. This season, Latham started all 14 games and was named first-team All-SEC. According to PFF, Latham ranks as the #19 overall prospect and #5 offensive tackle in a very deep class for the position. Latham had an outstanding NFL Combine last month, where he rated as the second overall tackle, per NFL Next Gen Stats. An interesting note for the Bears is Latham may transition to guard depending on what team drafts him. Adam Schefter reported he met with the Bears this Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Jackson Powers-Johnson, Center, Oregon

Powers-Johnson is one of two centers in this draft class with first-round potential, along with Zach Frazier. PFF ranks Powers-Johnson as the #24 overall prospect, and he should have multiple suitors in the first round, such as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the Bears have brought in two centers this offseason, Powers-Johnson projects to be a year-one starter and should immediately overtake the center position on the depth chart.

This season, he was named an All-American and took home the Dave Rimington (Best Center) Trophy. Powers-Johnson was present at Halas Hall this Monday, donning a blue and orange pair of solar eclipse glasses via his Instagram.

Graham Barton, Offensive Tackle, Duke

The second notable tackle on this list, Barton, is currently ranked as the #25 overall prospect and #7 offensive tackle, according to PFF. At Duke, he was a two time First Team All ACC tackle, however, there is a strong belief Barton will transition to center in the NFL. This move can be worrisome. However, Barton would instantly become one of the most athletic centers in the league. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, his NFL Combine performance ranked 1st among centers, thus proving his ability to transition to the next level. Ryan Fowler, The Draft Network, reported Barton had scheduled a visit with the Bears last week; more will become known about this as it becomes available.

Tyler Guyton, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma

The final “notable” prospect on this list, Guyton, is another tackle who ranks as the #30 overall prospect and #8 tackle. Guyton is currently one of eight offensive tackles with first-round grades, according to PFF. Although he missed some time this season with an injury, Guyton was still named Honorable Mention All-Big 12. At the Combine, he finished as the #7 overall tackle, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Critics say Guyton may need a year or two to fully develop, but most would agree that he will be a monster if he is developed correctly.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported that Guyton was part of the group that visited Halas Hall last Wednesday with Caleb Williams and Dallas Turner.

Others (Likely Day Two and Three Selections)

  • Zach Frazier (Center, West Virginia)
  • Chop Robinson (Edge, Penn State)
  • Kiran Amegadjie (Offensive Tackle, Yale)
  • Xavier Worthy (Wide Receiver, Texas)
  • Andru Phillips (Cornerback, Kentucky)
  • Trevor Keegan (Guard, Michigan)
  • Elijah Jones (Cornerback, Boston College)
  • Cam Hart (Cornerback, Notre Dame)
  • Dylan Laube (Runningback, New Hampshire)
  • Ben Sinnott (Tight End, Kansas State)
  • Nehemiah Pritchett (Cornerback, Auburn)
  • Jha’Quan Jackson (Wide Receiver, Tulane)

Who’s Missing

Jared Verse

Perhaps the most interesting omission from the list, Verse is currently rated as the #17 overall prospect and #3 edge rusher. This is notable as the Bears have scheduled visits with the #1, #2, and #5 edge rushers. Verse had a monster season in 2022 but did take a slight step back in production this season, according to his numbers. That may be a reason General Manager Ryan Poles and Coach Eberflus are currently choosing to pass on offering Verse a Top 30 Visit.

Top Offensive Tackles

As mentioned earlier, this is a very deep class for offensive tackles, with eight currently ranked in the top 30 overall prospects. The Bears have lined up visits with the #5, #7, and #8 overall tackles. It is somewhat interesting they are not even bothering to take a look at elite options like Joe Alt (Notre Dame), Taliese Fuaga (Oregon State), and Troy Fautanu (Washington).

One could assume Poles has little desire to trade up for a tackle as Darnell Wright and Braxton Jones performed relatively well at the position this season.

Defensive Tackles

Similar to the offensive tackle situation, the Bears already have solid defensive tackles on the roster. Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens showed flashes in their rookie seasons, but adding a sure-fire man in the middle through the draft could be a huge addition. The top tackles in this draft are Jer’Zhan Newton (Illinois) and Byron Murphy II (Texas). Both of these prospects are projected to be day-one starters on their respective teams.

Again, one would assume Poles and Eberflus are currently content with this position and will not look to upgrade through this year’s draft.

Photo: Chicago Bears

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