Thursday, May 23, 2024

NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Praised for Picks of Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze

HomeSports NewsNFL Draft: Chicago Bears Praised for Picks of Caleb Williams and Rome...

The Windy City is abuzz with excitement after the Chicago Bears executed a masterful draft strategy that could propel them from cellar-dwellers to contenders in the ultra-competitive NFC North. By securing the prized quarterback prospect Caleb Williams with the first overall pick and pairing him with explosive wide receiver Rome Odunze at No. 9, the Bears have overhauled their offensive firepower overnight.

Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner out of USC, possesses a rare blend of arm talent, mobility, and poise that could quickly revitalize Chicago’s stagnant aerial attack. Odunze, his former collegiate teammate, provides an athletic, big-play threat on the outside to complement the Bears’ existing receiving corps. This dynamic duo has the potential to form one of the most potent quarterback-receiver tandems in the league for years to come.

While the Carolina Panthers will need to exercise patience after taking Bryce Young first overall, the Bears’ division rivals in Green Bay, Minnesota, and Detroit should be on high alert. Chicago’s bold draft haul mirrors the Houston Texans’ blueprint from a year ago, when they catapulted to the top of the AFC South behind the impressive rookie campaigns of quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge rusher Will Anderson Jr.

However, the Bears were not the only team to make significant strides in replenishing their talent pool. The Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Commanders also garnered praise for their astute maneuvering in the draft trenches, setting the stage for an enthralling 2024 NFL season.

As the dust settles on this year’s draft extravaganza, one thing is clear: The Chicago Bears have positioned themselves for a remarkable resurgence, and the rest of the league would be wise to take notice.

It usually takes three years to fairly grade a draft, but here are AP’s early grades on each team’s overall draft:

ARIZONA CARDINALS: A

Got the best receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (4) in the draft and upgraded the rush with edge Darius Robinson (27). CB Max Melton, RB Trey Benson and CB Elijah Jones highlighted the team’s five picks on Day 2. DB Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and OT Christian Jones are potential starters from Day 3.

ATLANTA FALCONS: C-

QB Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 was the most stunning pick of the draft because Kirk Cousins just received $100 million guaranteed. DL Ruke Orhorhor (35) and DE Bralen Trice (74) bolster the defense. Reached on some of their Day 3 picks after starting strong with DL Brandon Dorius in the fourth round.

BALTIMORE RAVENS: B+

CB Nate Wiggins (30) and DE Adisa Isaac (93) can make an immediate impact. OT Roger Rosengarten (62) had some first-round grades. CB T.J. Tampa and RB Rasheen Ali could become Day 3 steals.

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BUFFALO BILLS: B

Traded out of the first round and saw three more receivers go before ending up with WR Keon Coleman (33). Got better value with S Cole Bishop (60) and DL DeWayne Carter (95) later in Day 2. OL Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, LB Edefuan Ulofoshio and LB Javon Solomon are outstanding picks in the fifth round.

CAROLINA PANTHERS: B

Added playmakers to help Bryce Young with three of their first four picks, selecting WR Xavier Legette (32), RB Jonathon Brooks (46) and TE Ja’Tavion Sanders.

CHICAGO BEARS: A+

Getting QB Caleb Williams (1) and WR Rome Odunze (9) in the top 10 will help them compete for a playoff spot this season. OL Kiran Amegadjie (75) provides more protection Williams. Took Tory Taylor, the best punter in the draft, a little early in the fourth.

CINCINNATI BENGALS: B

OT Amarius Mims (18) has major upside but isn’t as much of a slam dunk as other linemen who went in the first round. Had a strong second day, getting DT Kris Jenkins, WR Jermaine Burton and DL McKinnley Jackson. TE Tanner McLachlan in the sixth has plenty of potential.

CLEVELAND BROWNS: B+

Getting DL Michael Hall Jr. (54) made it worth the wait for the last team to draft. WR Jamari Thrash is a sleeper in the fifth. LB Nathaniel Watson could be a steal in the sixth.

DALLAS COWBOYS: B

Traded down and still filled a major hole with OT Tyler Guyton (29). Addressed more needs on Day 2 with DL Marshawn Kneeland (56) and OL Cooper Beebe (73). Added depth and value on Day 3 with CB Caelen Carson and WR Ryan Flournoy.

DENVER BRONCOS: B+

Taking QB Bo Nix in the 20s instead of at No. 12 would’ve been ideal but they didn’t want to risk losing him. Made excellent picks the rest of the way with DE Jonah Elliss (76), WR Troy Franklin, CB Kris Abrams-Draine and RB Audric Estime. Franklin is a first-round talent who slipped to the fourth.

DETROIT LIONS: B

Traded up to get CB Terrion Arnold (24) and strengthened the pass defense even more with CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr. in the second round.

GREEN BAY PACKERS: B

OT Jordan Morgan (25) fills a need though they may have passed up more talented linemen. LB Edgerrin Cooper (45) and S Javon Bullard (58) will improve the defense. RB MarShawn Lloyd (88) and LB Ty’Ron Hopper (91) capped an outstanding Day 2.

HOUSTON TEXANS: B+

Hard to follow up a draft where they took C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. Top pick CB Kamari Lassiter (42) can step right in and play. S Calen Bullock (78) is cream of the rest of a crop that includes OT Blake Fisher (59) and TE Cade Stover.

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: B

Made edge Laiatu Latu the first defensive player selected at No. 15 when he wasn’t the highest-graded prospect at his position. Traded back and got talented WR Adonai Mitchell, a first-round talent, with the 52nd pick. OT Matt Goncalves (79) and S Jaylin Simpson (164) are the best of a solid group on Days 2-3.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: B

Traded down to No. 23 and got a player many projected they’d take at 17 in WR Brian Thomas Jr. Filled defensive needs with DL Maason Smith (48) and S Jarrian Jones (96).

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: A-

Traded up for WR Xavier Worthy (28) and took a shot on raw OT Kingsley Suamataia. TE Jared Wiley, S Jaden Hicks, OL Hunter Nourzad and CB Kamal Hadden give opponents more reason to fear the two-time defending Super Bowl champions.

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: A-

Brock Bowers (13) is by far the best tight end in the draft but they already have Michael Mayer. Jackson Powers-Johnson (44) might be the top interior lineman in a strong class and OT Delmar Glaze (77) can be a steady starter. Nailed Day 3 with CB Decamerion Richardson, LB Tommy Eichenberg, RB Dylan Laube, S Trey Taylor and CB M.J. Devonshire.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: B+

Gave Justin Herbert protection and a playmaker with their first two picks: LT Joe Alt (5) and WR Ladd McConkey (34). Jim Harbaugh got his Wolverine in LB Junior Colson (69). Got a WR with the best genes in the draft in the seventh round when they took Brenden Rice, son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

LOS ANGELES RAMS: B

Edge Jared Verse (19) was the first pick in the first round since Jared Goff in 2016. He fits a major need. So does DT Braden Fiske (39) after Aaron Donald’s retirement.

MIAMI DOLPHINS: B-

Edge Chop Robinson (21) has AP Defensive Rookie of the Year potential. OT Patrick Paul (55) doesn’t seem to fit the team’s preferred style of athletic tackles. WR Malik Washington is a sleeper in the sixth.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS: B

QB J.J. McCarthy (10) isn’t the 10th-best player in the draft but they didn’t want to risk losing him. Moved up to get possibly the best defensive player in the draft, DE Dallas Turner (17). CB Khyree Jackson was great value in the fourth.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: C+

Drake Maye (3) isn’t a lock to become a franchise quarterback. Versatile WR Ja’Lynn Polk (37) went higher than expected. Day 3 was strong. Got OL Layden Robinson and WR Javon Baker in the fourth and CB Marcellas Dial and strong-armed QB Joe Milton in the sixth. TE Jaheim Bell in the seventh could be a steal.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: B+

OT Taliese Fuaga (14) is an immediate starter and fills a need. Traded up for solid CB Kool-Aid McKinstry (41). QB Spencer Rattler (150) once was a projected first-rounder and has upside. He highlighted an impressive haul on Day 3.

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NEW YORK GIANTS: B+

WR Malik Nabers (6) fills a major void. Boosted the secondary on Day 2 with S Tyler Nubin (47) and CB Andru Phillips (70). RB Tyrone Tracy Jr. is raw but has potential.

NEW YORK JETS: B-

Passed up Bowers to get OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu (11) and then got Aaron Rodgers more playmakers in WR Malachi Corley (65) and RB Braelon Allen (134). QB Jordan Travis is coming off ACL surgery but has time to develop. “Mr. Irrelevant,” S Jaylen Key, has the skill set to be a core special teams player.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: A

CBs Quinyon Mitchell (22) and Cooper DeJean (40) are a significant boost to the secondary. Took a risk on developing LB Jalyx Hunt (93). WRs Ainias Smith (152) and Johnny Wilson (185) are excellent value. Got LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr. in the fifth round could be a steal.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: B+

Gave Russell Wilson more protection with top two picks: OL Troy Fautanu and OL Zach Frazier. WR Roman Wilson (84) fills a hole in the slot. LB Payton Wilson (98) has first-round talent. OL Mason McCormick provides more depth.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: B-

WR Ricky Pearsall (31) was an odd choice unless Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel are getting traded. CB Renardo Green (64) and OL Dominick Puni (86) are ideal fits. CB Malik Mustapha (124), WR Jacob Cowing (135) and OL Jarrett Kingston headlined a nice Day 3 haul.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: B+

DT Byron Murphy (16) and G Christian Haynes (81) could be the best players at their positions in this class. TE A.J. Barner (121), OL Sataoa Laumea (179) and CB D.J. James (192) are high value.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: A

Versatile OL Graham Barton (26) fills a major need and edge Chris Braswell (57) is a productive player. WR Jalen McMillan (92) is steady and RB Buck Irving (125) could be a steal.

TENNESSEE TITANS: B

RT JC Latham (7) will make the transition to the left side to protect Will Levis’ blindside. Gambled on DT T’Vondre Sweat (38) earlier than expected but he’s a big man who fits a need on the D-line. Came away with a talented group on Day 3, including LB Cedric Gray, WR Jha’Quan Jackson, S James Williams and LB Jaylen Harrell.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: A

Got their franchise quarterback in Jayden Daniels (2) and kept on adding. DT Johnny Newton (36) is a first-round player. Day 2 picks CB Mike Sainristil, TE Ben Sinnott, OT Brandon Coleman and WR Luke McCaffrey are building blocks.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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