By: Adam Karnik
Original Date: 3/19/23
Hello sports fans and welcome back to the IE Spors Radio Blog. What a way to start the off-season! As my colleague John Felipe of the Carolina Cast always opens his show “Well, well, well!” In case you missed the news, the Chicago Bears traded the #1 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a package of first and second round picks over the next three drafts plus wide receiver DJ Moore. The draft picks include the #9 and #61 overall picks this seasons, Carolina’s first round pick in 2024 and the Panthers’ second round pick in 2025.
Entering into his second off-season on the job, Bears general manager Ryan Poles has always been transparent about his intentions for the franchise, and that included his thoughts about the first overall pick. Despite persistent rumblings from the national media before the Scouting Combine that the Bears were looking at trading starting quarterback Justin Fields and using the first overall pick to take a new quarterback, Poles always maintained that the Bears don’t need an upgrade at QB. He felt that trading he pick would be the best move for the organization’s future.
Those plans began to materialize at the Combine. Poles was able to have in-person conversations with other GMs and team executives to gauge how much interest there was in the pick and how much teams were willing to pay to get the privilege of selecting the first QB in this class. Right after the Combine, Poles announced that he’d be able to get first round picks in both 2024 and 2025 as part of a deal, and he was right. The crown jewel is Moore, the soon-to-be 26-year old wide receiver who has already amassed over 5,000 receiving yards in his career and is coming off a career-best seven touchdown catches in 2022. Reportedly, the Panthers tried to change their 2025 pick from a second round to a first round in an effort to keep Moore, but Poles wanted him.
It’s easy to understand why. In five seasons in Carolina, Moore caught 364 passes on 616 targets, establishing himself as the top receiver on the team despite his 6-foot, 210-pound frame. Moore is one of just seven receivers in NFL history to record three separate 1,200 scrimmage yard seasons before turning 26 and his 5,201 career receiving yards would already put him atop the Bears all-time receiving list. Moore has also been durable and reliable to this point in his NFL career. Through five seasons, he has only missed two games and hasn’t missed any in the last two years.
It’s been common the last several years to see teams with young quarterbacks aggressively acquire wide receivers to compliment and enhance their signal callers. Last year the Eagles traded for AJ Brown and the Dolphins grabbed Tyreek Hill. This move further solidifies the belief that Fields is worth building around and developing. The draft picks also give us a glimpse of Poles’s plan for the franchise. Rather than concentrating on just this class, Poles received high picks in 2024 and 2025 to give him the flexibility to address holes in the roster every off-season and attend to problems that may not show themselves until this current season is over.
The only minor complaint, and it is a small one, is that this trade still leaves the Bears with only one pick in the Top 50 overall in this draft. The Panthers had two second round selections, their own at #39, and #61 which was acquired from the San Francisco 49ers as part of the Christian McCaffrey trade. Getting the 39th pick instead of the 61st would have been the cherry on top for Poles. Still, the Bears now have 10 picks total in this draft including four picks in the Top 65. This is easily a ‘Grade-A” trade.
So what should Poles look at with the 9th selection? Until now, all of the talk has focused around defensive end Will Anderson and defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Now, offensive lineman Paris Johnson and Peter Skoronski will come into play. While Anderson will almost certainly be off the board, there are plenty of other great defensive lineman such as Lukas Van Ness, Tyree Wilson, and Calijah Klancey. Who knows, Carter himself might still be in play depending on how his legal issues (which appear to have been resolved) and poor pro day affect his stock.
One final note, this trade was made on the one-year anniversary of Poles trading Khalil Mack to the LA Chargers, signalling the beginning of the Bears rebuild. It’s pretty amazing to start celebrating progress just one year later. Adam Karnik is the host of Chi-Town Weekly and co-host of The Neutral Zone on IE Sports Radio. Hear him talk all things Chicago sports every Monday night at 7PM CST and everything Hockey on Tuesday nights at 8PM CST. Shout out to our patreon supporters and all you loyal listeners that continue to help IESR grow. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.