The Chicago Bears had every option on the table for the 2023 NFL Draft a week ago when they held the No. 1 overall selection. Following Friday night's trade -- when the Panthers acquired No. 1 while Chicago gets No. 9 and No. 61 (a Round 2 pick), a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in 2025 and D.J. Moore -- the first-round possibilities this April are more limited. Offensive line and defensive line stand out as the biggest areas of concern on Chicago's roster. Fortunately, there are options available at those positions.
Here is a look at the directions that the Bears could possibly go at No. 9 overall:
Chicago's offensive line has been a concern for years, but it felt as though it found some playable options along that unit last year. Rookie left tackle Braxton Jones played well in his role while a collection of interior talent -- Sam Mustipher, Teven Jenkins, Cody Whitehair and Larry Borom -- played solid football. The Bears could use a right tackle and Northwestern's Peter Skoronski fits the profile. The Park Ridge, Illinois native has five position flexibility and would certainly support the narrative that the team is investing in quarterback Justin Fields.
Some of the other options predominantly mentioned in that range include Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. and Georgia's Broderick Jones. Both played left tackle in their final year of college.
The entire front seven is a need for the NFC North franchise, but no linebackers justify being selected at No. 9 overall. There are a bevy of pass rushing options expected to be available despite Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. likely being off the board. Most believe Texas Tech's Tyree Wilson will also be off the board. However, Iowa's Lukas Van Ness, Clemson's Myles Murphy or Georgia's Nolan Smith could be on the table.
Van Ness is a powerful young player who showed significant athletic upside at the NFL Combine. It doesn't hurt that he grew up less than an hour away from the Windy City in Barrington, Illinois. Murphy is another player who possesses the athletic profile of a top-10 selection. His play on the field last season did not match the prior season, but the hope is that the Bears are capable of drawing it out of him. Smith is probably third on the list because he is a bit more scheme-specific as a smaller built prospect.
The elephant in the room is the potential availability of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Carter is arguably the best prospect available in the class, but there's the issue of his involvement in a fatal crash in December. If Carter is still on the board at No. 9 overall, then one would think the Bears may have their own concerns. Teams may feel more comfortable with the situation as they learn more over the next month and a half, which could theoretically push Carter out of the team's range without trading back up.
Trade up or down
Chicago has traded down to No. 9 overall, but that does not exclude them from exploring a move back up or down the board for the right prospect. The initial ideal scenario involved the franchise trading back while still being in a position to add either Anderson or Carter. Carter's potential availability has obviously grown more complicated, but one would think general manager Ryan Poles will need to trade back up in order to select either.
If they trade further down the board, then the options expected to be available change. However, the defensive front seven and offensive line will be the biggest needs for the franchise regardless of where they pick. Here is a look at CBSSports.com's prospect rankings.
The 2023 NFL Draft will be held from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri.