Justin Fields and Braxton Jones are key NFL figures who will play a crucial role in shaping the Chicago Bears' draft strategy.

BY V. CARBONNEAU    DECEMBER 5, 2023  (9:52)
The Chicago Bears, currently standing at 4-8 after their bye week, are holding onto the belief that an unlikely playoff run is still possible with five winnable games ahead.

However, amidst the 2023 season, attention from the outside has already shifted towards the 2024 NFL Draft and the potential it holds. Thanks to a strategic move by General Manager Ryan Poles last March, the Bears are in a unique position to focus on both a potential postseason push and an offseason that may grant them the coveted No. 1 overall pick once again.

As of now, following the Week 13 games, the Bears have a 72 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick via the Carolina Panthers. This means that the Bears could potentially possess both the No. 1 and No. 5 picks in the 2024 draft, giving them valuable assets to reshape their franchise.

The question that will dominate discussions until the draft in April is how Poles should utilize these picks. Should he select a new quarterback like Caleb Williams or Drake Maye? Should he use the picks to bolster the team around Justin Fields with top-tier talent? Or should he consider trading one of the picks for additional draft capital?


Poles faces a multitude of options this offseason, and the outcomes of the final five games of the current season will significantly influence his decision-making process.

Four key figures, three of whom are closely associated with the Bears, will play pivotal roles in determining the direction the team takes in this potentially "transformational" offseason:

1. Justin Fields: Fields' performance in the remaining five games will have a profound impact on how Poles decides to use the draft capital at his disposal. Poles had previously expressed his reluctance to part with Fields and draft another quarterback. However, Fields has been inconsistent this season, and a strong finish could change the team's perspective.

2. Braxton Jones: The left tackle, Jones, holds substantial weight in the final five games. His ability to solidify himself as the franchise left tackle could affect the team's draft strategy. If he succeeds, the Bears may focus on other positions in the first round. If not, they might consider elite left tackle prospects in the draft.

3. Matt Eberflus: The head coach's future with the Bears is another critical factor. Eberflus's performance during the season's final stretch will determine whether the team retains him. A decision to move on from Eberflus could signal a full reset, impacting the draft approach.

4. Bryce Young: The quarterback the Bears passed on in 2023, Young, now with the Carolina Panthers, could influence the Bears' draft position. If Young manages to secure a few more wins for the Panthers, it might affect their draft placement and alter the Bears' draft strategy.

In conclusion, the final five games of the season and the performance of these key figures will shape the Chicago Bears' approach to the 2024 NFL Draft and the future of the franchise.
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