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USA Today Sports Media Group
Alyssa Barbieri

2023 NFL mock draft roundup: Bears trade back from No. 1 with Colts, among others

The Chicago Bears wrapped the 2022 season, where, in a pleasant turn of events, they’ve landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

General manager Ryan Poles has an important decision to make with the selection. But, naturally, the expectation is Chicago will explore trading back with a team willing to pay handsomely to move up to first overall and land the quarterback of their choosing, be it Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud or Kentucky’s Will Levis.

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And it seems like the Indianapolis Colts have emerged as a popular suitor for the Bears in the latest round of mock drafts.

We’ve rounded up the latest 2023 NFL mock drafts following the wild-card round of the playoffs, where there are several people pegging the Colts to trade up with Chicago at No. 1.

The Athletic: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler has the Bears trading back with the Colts for quite a draft haul: Chicago gets Indy’s No. 4 pick and No. 35 pick in this year’s draft, along with the Colts’ first-round pick in 2024.

With that said, the Bears still get a generational talent on defense in Georgia’s Jalen Carter at fourth overall.

For the next few months, Bears fans will be debating between Anderson and Jalen Carter. In this scenario, the decision is made for them. Carter is young, which is evident in several areas of his game, but it is also clear how uniquely talented he is with his combination of body control and power. His block destruction and disruption are special.

For Bears fans screaming that the return in this trade scenario (this pick, No. 35 and a future first) isn’t enough, there would be added value in trading back with the Colts, as opposed to the Raiders (No. 7 overall), Panthers (No. 9 overall) or another team. The opportunity to stay within striking distance of the two “elite” defensive prospects in this draft should give the Colts a hypothetical advantage if the Bears have multiple offers to consider.

The Draft Network: OT Paris Johnson Jr. (Ohio State) - TRADE!

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Draft Network‘s Keith Sanchez has Chicago trading back from No.1. with the Raiders, who move up to draft Alabama’s Bryce Young. No compensation was mentioned in this draft — outside of “more picks” — but you have to imagine it was quite a haul moving from No. 7 to No. 1.

With that No. 7 pick, the Bears address the offensive line with Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr.

While there was much speculation over the Bears trading Justin Fields and drafting Bryce Young, they made the decision to trade down in this NFL mock draft and accumulate more picks. In this spot, they opt to improve the offensive line and select Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr. Johnson Jr. has played both LT and RT at Ohio State, so he is a plug-and-play player. Fields has showcased that he is an electric runner of the football, but if he is going to improve as a passer, he is going to need some protection in the pocket.

CBS Sports: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

CBS Sports‘ Ryan Wilson has the Bears trading back from first overall with the Colts, who move up to take Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. Meanwhile, Chicago lands some additional draft picks, including No. 4 overall, where they select Carter.

The Bears appear to be a team headed in the right direction, in large part because they’ve found their franchise QB in Justin Fields. But there’s a lot of work to do on the other side of the ball after moving on from Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. Both Carter and Anderson could be options should Chicago stay put at No. 1 and both are layup selections. Or the team could choose to trade out of the top selection should their be interest from QB-needy teams looking to move up.

Draft Wire: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Draft Wire‘s Luke Easterling has Chicago moving down from No. 1 with the Colts, who move up to select Levis. The Bears get additional draft capital (at least this year’s second-rounder and 2024 first-rounder) along with the fourth overall selection. At No. 4, Chicago selects Carter.

What a win for the Bears, who move down three spots, load up on additional picks (at least this year’s second-rounder and next year’s first-rounder, likely more), and still land one of this year’s top overall prospects at a huge position of need. Carter is a disruptive force at the point of attack, and would give the Bears an immediate cornerstone around whom they can rebuild their once proud defense.

Touchdown Wire: WR Quentin Johnston (TCU) - TRADE!

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Touchdown Wire‘s Doug Farrar has the Bears trading back with the Colts (for additional draft picks) as Indy lands their quarterback in C.J. Stroud. With the fourth overall pick, the Bears have a big decision to make. While Will Anderson Jr. is still on the board here, Farrar has Chicago going offense with TCU receiver Quentin Johnston.

Pro Football Network: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Football Network‘s Ian Cummings has Chicago trading back with — who else — the Colts. In exchange, the Bears receive: Picks 4, 35, 103, 2024 first-round pick, and 2024 second-round pick.

With that fourth overall selection, Chicago addresses a hole on the defensive line with Carter.

Chicago can feasibly get back an early second-rounder and a host of other picks from the Colts, who’ll be in a bidding war for No. 1 overall. In the process, the Bears only fall three spots, and they still get to add Jalen Carter, arguably the best prospect in the draft. I’d say that’s a win. Carter’s brand of ruthless disruption is a dire need on Chicago’s interior.

The 33rd Team: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama) - TRADE!

AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

The 33rd Team has the Bears coming away with an absolute steal in the first round. Not only do they trade the No. 1 pick to the Texans (who take Bryce Young), but they trade back a second time with the Colts (who take their QB in C.J. Stroud).

And even after two trades, Chicago lands arguably the best prospect in Alabama’s Will Anderson at No. 4.

Chicago has built up a stockpile of additional selections by trading down twice, and the Bears still get the guy they would have taken at No. 1 in Anderson.

CBS Sports: DT Bryan Bresee (Clemson) - TRADE!

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CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has the Bears trading back from No. 1 — but it’s not the Colts. Chicago trades with the Panthers, where they acquire the No. 9 pick, two 2023 second-round picks, a first-round and third-round pick in 2024, a 2025 second-round pick and Lavish Shenault.

Bresee is a freaky specimen who can disrupt from any position up front. He’s the exact type the Bears desperately need. In the trade back, Chicago lands this pick from Carolina along with two 2023 second-round selections, a first-round and third-round pick in 2024, a 2025 second-round pick, and Laviska Shenault.

Sports Illustrated: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft Bible has Chicago trading back with the Colts, who move up to land Bryce Young at No. 1 overall. Meanwhile, the Bears get a draft haul, including the fourth overall pick, where they select Carter.

Blessed with rare athleticism, a lightning quick first step and violent hands, the Bulldogs defensive tackle makes a living in the opponents’ backfield.

Sporting News: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer has the Bears staying put at No. 1 — although he mentions they should look to trade back. With that top selection, Chicago addresses the pass rush with Anderson.

The Bears, picking first overall for the first time since 1947, shouldn’t need to consider QB with the passing and running ceiling of big-armed Justin Fields. The ideal scenario is trading down for extra first-down selection power with a team looking to jump the Texans for a particular franchise QB. If the Bears stay, they should look to get familiar defensive pop.

Getting this cornerstone pass rusher and active all-around playmaker is great call. Anderson would give them a new Khalil Mack after also saying goodbye to Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith on the second level.

NBC Sports Chicago: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

NBC Sports Chicago‘s Glynn Morgan believes Chicago is most likely going to trade away the No. 1 pick. But on the off chance they don’t, he has them taking Anderson.

I’m fully convinced there is a 90+ percent chance the Bears will trade away the first overall pick for more draft capital. There are so many areas of concern for Chicago that it might be considered gross negligence to not secure more draft picks by trading down. However, if by some happenstance Chicago chooses to take a player No. 1 overall the best non-quarterbacking playmaker would be Will Anderson. He is a defensive catalyst who can alter the landscape of any game at any moment.

Athlon Sports: EDGE Will Anderson Jr. (Alabama)

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Athlon Sports‘ Bryan Fischer also has Chicago staying put at No. 1 — although they’ll listen to offers — and selecting Anderson.

The Bears will be listening for just about any offer they get but if they stay put atop the draft, Anderson will land in the Windy City after being the best defensive player in college football the past two years by a wide margin.

Yardbarker: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia)

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Yardbarker‘s Seth Trachtman has the Bears staying put at first overall, although he notes the option of trading back with some needy teams. At first overall, Chicago selects Carter to be that dominant three-technique.

With Justin Fields establishing himself this season, Chicago can fill their other many areas of need with the first pick or trade back. Carter has a chance to be an elite interior pass rusher at the next level and recorded three sacks and 30 tackles in 12 games for the Bulldogs heading into the National Championship.

247 Sports: DT Jalen Carter (Georgia) - TRADE!

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

247 Sports‘ Brad Crawford has the Bears trading back with the Colts in exchange for a draft haul, including the No. 4 pick. With that selection, Chicago takes the best remaining defensive prospect: Carter.

Widely-considered Georgia’s top prospect, Jalen Carter could have a Travon Walker-like rise during the evaluation process after the season. He’s another versatile pass rusher whose production should increase with more snaps this fall. Take a look at last season’s film and you’ll quickly notice No. 88 standing out amongst his peers, which is saying something considering the Bulldogs’ wealth of first-round talent on that side of the football. Kelee Ringo is another first-round lock for the Bulldogs and Nolan Smith, too.

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