Round 2- Princely Umanmielen, Edge, Florida
As we all know, our 2024 first round pick belongs to the Bears due to our trade up for Young, which means we'll especially have to hit on our 2nd rounder this year.
While there are a decent amount of weaknesses that we could address on our team, personally I think the most glaring one is on the edge. Ever since we drafted Burns, the only competent pass-rusher we've ever paired him with was Reddick, who we let walk in Free Agency after only 1 year. All of our other attempts to find a quality edge to prevent teams from double-teaming Burns have failed miserably, as evidenced by how pathetic our pass-rush was in the preseason without him. Yes, we did just trade up for Johnson in the 3rd round last year, but we all know that was a reach, so I'm not expecting him to develop into anything more than a rotational backup to replace our soon-to-be Free Agents in YGM and Haynes. So, to avoid having to overdraft another mediocre player at the position, it would make sense to use our first pick in this draft on the next best edge-rusher available. With his speed, natural pass-rushing ability, and already refined run defense, Umanmielen could be the perfect compliment for Burns.
Round 3 (Trade Up)- Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon
Based on his history with the Seahawks, as well as him breaking the Panthers record for most trade-downs in his first draft with us, I think we all expected Fitterer to be a continuing member of trade-down island. However, it seems like the exact opposite has happened. Not only has Fitterer refused to trade down since that draft, but in a weird twist, he's actually made a tradition out of trading up in every draft, specifically in the 3rd round. In his first draft he traded up for Christensen, then Corral last year, and now Johnson this year, all in the 3rd round. So, assuming he's still the GM on draft day, I think it's safe to say that we would be a threat to continue our tradition of wasting picks to trade up in the 3rd. Specifically, I imagine we would use one of our extra 5th round picks (we have two this year from prior trades with the 49ers and Titans) to get that done.
Now that I've overly explained why we would trade up in this round, you may be asking yourself, what position would be worth such a trade? Well, to me the only acceptable answer is WR. After trading away our best receiver in Moore to trade up for Young, we were left with a huge hole at WR1. While I do think we made a couple of solid moves this offseason to surround Young with some decent passing options, it's safe to say that none of our receiving weapons strike fear in opposing defenses. The preseason showed how injury-prone our best weapons are, and how the rest struggle to gain separation. Even if Mingo develops into a quality WR, it's important to note that two of our starting receivers (Shenault and Chark) are Free Agents after this year, so it's hard to imagine us being able to re-sign both. With that in mind, it would make sense to use this pick on another weapon for Young, specifically one with the speed to consistently gain separation, and you couldn't do much better than a guy with a 40 time in the 4.30s like Franklin here.
Round 4- Ben Bywater, ILB, BYU
I know I ask for this every single year, but for once in my life I want to see our team at least try to draft a replacement for Kuechly. I get that we have more pressing needs than ILB, especially since it's not that important of a position anymore, but I'm tired of seeing every LB we put on the field get roasted in pass coverage. I'm not expecting a 4th round pick to instantly solve all of our problems, but getting the next best ILB here would at least be a solid start.
Round 5- Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame
This is either one of the picks we acquired from the 49ers as part of the CMC trade, or one of the picks that we got from the Titans as part of the Daley trade, depending on whichever one Fitterer decides to burn for his beloved 3rd round trade-up.
This is probably just wishful thinking on my part, but perhaps one of these days Fitterer will finally draft a CB to compete with Jackson for CB2, or at the very least give us depth for inevitable injuries to our starters. So after seeing how poorly our backup CBs performed in the preseason, paired with the fact that Henderson should be gone after this year, I think it would make sense to get the next best CB here.
Round 6- Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama
This is one of the picks we acquired from the Cardinals as part of the Anderson trade.
In this modern passing era of the NFL, you can never have too many weapons for your QB, so I wouldn't be surprised to see us double-dip at WR in this draft. Burton has a wide range of draft projections, from as high as the 3rd round, to as low as going undrafted. So, if he were available at the last pick of our draft, I think it would make sense to take a flier on him due to his familiarity with Young, especially since his slot skills could be useful after Thielen inevitably retires.