Against all odds, the Chicago Bears have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Chicago entered Week 18 with slim odds of securing the No. 1 pick in the draft. The team was expected to lose to the Minnesota Vikings and see the Houston Texans defeat the Indianapolis Colts.
This is exactly what happened on Sunday. The Bears – without quarterback Justin Fields – lost to the Vikings 29-13. Meanwhile, Texans quarterback Davis Mills rallied his team, throwing three touchdowns, including one with 50 seconds left, in a wild 32-31 win over the Colts.
The word “savage” doesn’t do justice to the ending of the Texans-Colts game. With Houston down 7, Mills led a 14-game streak that ended with a touchdown pass to cut the deficit to one point. Instead of tying things up and going to overtime, Texans head coach Lovie Smith went for two. Mills found Jordan Akins in the end zone to give the Texans a one-point lead with 50 seconds left.
The Colts failed to rally in the final minute, giving the Texans the upset victory … and knocking Houston out of first place in the draft.
The Bears didn’t make it that exciting. The team made its intentions for Week 18 pretty obvious in the days leading up to the game against the Vikings. The Bears elected to sit Fields with a hip injury, starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback instead. He lasted a few practices before the Bears turned to replacement Tim Boyle, who joined the team Nov. 30. Peterman eventually returned to the game.
Chicago fell behind early against the Vikings and, despite a passing touchdown from Peterman and a rushing touchdown from rookie Velus Jones Jr., never really threatened an upset.
The Texans, on the other hand, immediately made things interesting. Houston quickly took a 10-0 lead after scoring in their first two practices. The Colts had a touchdown to make it 10-7, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw a second-quarter pick six to give the Texans another 10-point lead.
Indianapolis clawed their way back into the game in the second half and trailed just 3 points when Mills threw an interception late in the third quarter. The Colts had a touchdown and a field goal in the fourth quarter to go up seven points, allowing Mills to play the hero.
Bears will pick first in NFL Draft for first time since 1947
The Bears haven’t held the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in over 70 years. The team last owned the first draft pick in 1947, when it selected Bob Fenimore, who only played one season in the NFL.
Although the Bears currently hold the No. 1 pick in the draft, they may not retain it. Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is considered the No. 1 player overall on most draft boards and the quarterback isn’t needed for Chicago. Fields showed electric playing ability in his second season and it looks like he could be a potential franchise player.
If the Bears think that way, the team will likely listen to offers for the first pick in the April draft. Teams will hypothetically split multiple first-round picks to go up and select Young. The Bears have a lot of holes to plug, and getting multiple first-round picks would go a long way to helping the team rebuild quickly.
Fields, however, was not drafted by the current Bears regime. If the team doesn’t believe he can become a star passer, they could sign Young and try to trade Fields. Either way, the Bears would get plenty of picks and still have a promising young quarterback.
The team could also keep the first overall pick and select a player other than Young. Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter and Alabama pass thrower Will Anderson Jr. are some of the other names atop the false drafts. Considering all the Bears needs and potential packages for Young, this would be the most surprising route for Chicago.
The Bears could use the extra draft picks in 2023, especially after giving up the No. 32 overall pick in a midseason trade for receiver Chase Claypool.
Claypool played six games with Chicago after the trade. He caught 11 balls for 111 yards and no touchdowns. Claypool is under contract through the 2023 season and is expected to play a bigger role in the Bears offense next year.
The Texans find themselves in an interesting position with the No. 2 pick. The team could try to trade a spot to take Young, or they could take the next available quarterback with the No. 2 pick. If the Texans miss out Young and feel they can wait to take a quarterback later, the team could trade and acquire more picks. Although it is speculated that the Texans will take a quarterback at the start of the 2023 NFL Draft, the team can meet several needs if it goes down, although it risks losing a potential franchise quarterback. in this scenario.
After miserable seasons in 2022, the Bears and Texans have a lot of work to do if they want to get back into contention. The Texans should be able to select a potential franchise quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, but may not be the best on the board.
The Bears have a lot of options on the table. The team not only owns the No. 1 overall pick, but also has the most cap space available in the NFL. Those two factors should dramatically speed up the Bears’ rebuild and give Fields the help he desperately needs.