Grading the Chicago Bears 2024 NFL Draft Class

Today, we’re discussing what each player brings to the table, how they fit into the picture at Halas Hall, and assigning grades for the pick.

The 2024 NFL Draft is in the books and the Chicago Bears should be feeling pretty good about the haul of picks that will now call Soldier Field home. It’s a new era of Bears football led by rookie quarterback Caleb Williams, but he’s not alone in a very strong draft class by Ryan Poles and Co.

Today, we’re discussing what each player brings to the table, how they fit into the picture at Halas Hall, and assigning grades for the pick.

Round 1, Pick 1 (via Carolina): Caleb Williams | QB | USC

The trade with the Carolina Panthers for last year’s No. 1 pick in the draft will go down as the most significant trade in the history of the Bears franchise if things work out here, and I have a feeling that they will. Like I said last week, you can (or don’t) use any one-word label you would like, but make sure it describes him as the most talented quarterback prospect to step foot in Halas Hall.

Unlike in previous attempts to get the quarterback position right in Chicago, Williams has been the Bears starting quarterback since Justin Fields was traded last month. There’s no Mike Glennon or Andy Dalton here to steal reps from him in training camp. There won’t be any waffling back and forth. Williams is the guy, and Ryan Poles has built him an offense that stacks up with the best of them on paper.

Williams will have growing pains, even with the litany of weapons he’ll be surrounded with. Still, he brings something to the table on day one that other Bears quarterbacks of the past have lacked: efficiency on third and fourth down during two-minute drills and when the game is on the line late.

Williams threw 14 interceptions in three years of college football. As ESPN’s Courtney Cronin pointed out recently, from 2022 to 2023, Williams had a stretch of 199 passing attempts in which he didn’t throw an interception on third and fourth down attempts. His touchdown-to-interception ratio on those downs was 16-0, and Williams had a 46-1 touchdown touchdown-to-interception ratio inside the red zone.

Not only does Williams have the numbers that justify the hype, but he’s also been a breath of fresh air as a person throughout the pre-draft process, draft night, and the days that have followed, fully embracing his new role in Chicago and quickly asserting himself as the face of the franchise. I know that Bears fans are traumatized by the quarterbacks of yesteryear, but this feels different. It feels like Ryan Poles may have finally cracked this one.

Grade: A+

Round 1, Pick 9: Rome Odunze | WR | Washington

As the picks between one and the Bears’ next pick at nine played out, I wondered if Chicago could land Rome Odunze, the big-bodied, polished receiver from Washington, to add to this offense that would now officially be led by Caleb Williams. The football gods were on the Bears’ side on Thursday evening in Detroit, and it shook out perfectly for the Bears, who were able to land their guy.

Make no mistake, Odunze was their guy at No. 9. Ryan Poles said as much after the first round ended.

"I was nervous that he wasn't going to be there at 9," Poles said. "Our simulations, it was about a 50/50 shot if he was going to be there. But as it started to unfold, [assistant general manager] Ian [Cunningham] had to hold me back from not trying to trade up and do something crazy to get him. But it ended up working out really well."

The Tennessee Titans selected JC Latham, a tackle from Alabama, with the No. 7 pick in the draft, which worked out well for the Bears. The Atlanta Falcons, who had previously signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal, surprised everyone by choosing Odunze’s college quarterback, Michael Penix Jr., at No. 8. As a result, the Bears were able to select Odunze, who was an AP First-Team All-American and a Biletnikoff Award finalist last year. Odunze caught 92 passes for an FBS-leading 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Odunze can line up anywhere on the field as a wide receiver and finishes contested catches as well as any receiver in the class. He plays big, can run after the catch, changes gears well within his routes, and has a top gear that creates separation over the top for the deep ball.

Speaking of the deep ball, Odunze had an FBS-best 21 receptions on throws that gained 20-plus air yards in 2023. Pair that with D.J. Moore, who had the third most such receptions in the NFL last year, and we’ve got a recipe for a vertical offense that we’ve never seen before in Chicago.

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 75: Kiran Amegadjie | OT | Yale

The Chicago Bears have said that they’re comfortable with Braxton Jones at left tackle, and he’ll be the starter at that position going into camp, but if he doesn’t take the next step this season, it might be his final season as the starter.

Enter Hinsdale, Illinois, native Kiran Amegadjie, whom the Bears selected with their third-round pick on Friday. Amegadjie started at left tackle at Yale as a junior and said he’s most comfortable at that position despite having played some guard.

The Bears offensive line is set this season, but Amegadjie should win the swing tackle job from Larry Borom in training camp at a minimum, and like I said, if Braxton Jones falters, Amegadjie will be there to step into that role. I like that Poles is committed to having depth along the offensive line, and this group is as strong as it’s been in a long time in Chicago.

The 6-5 326-pounder started a total of 24 games, with ten games in 2021 and 2022, until he had a quad injury that required surgery. Due to the injury, he was only able to play in four games last season. Amegadjie played as a left tackle and was named First-Team All-Ivy League for two consecutive years. He allowed no sacks on 411 pass-blocking snaps. In 2021, he played as a right guard and started ten games. He was selected as Honorable Mention All-Ivy League that year.

"You love the tools that he has," said Bears general manager Ryan Poles. "His pass pro is really good. Love his length, hand usage. And a big man that we believe is going to continue to get bigger and more explosive, so it should really increase the competition on our offensive line and make everyone better."

Grade: B

Round 4, Pick 122 (via Philadelphia): Tory Taylor | P | Iowa

At first blush, the idea of drafting a punter with a fourth-round selection—especially when you only had four picks entering the weekend—seems like a reach. Still, when you consider 1) the Bears have reached the point where they can invest an asset like that into a position like a punter, and that’s a credit to the job they’ve done building this roster, and 2) Tory Taylor was hands-down the best punter in college football last season and a significant upgrade at the position for the Bears, the pick feels a lot better.

Taylor totaled an FBS record 4,479 punting yards and a 48.2-yard average. He replaces Trenton Gill, whose 38 yards in net average punting last season ranked dead-last in the NFL. Taylor has a 46.3-yard career punt average, which is an FBS record.

Caleb Williams reached out to Taylor after the selection on Saturday. He joked that he won’t be punting the football in Chicago anywhere nearly as often as he did for Iowa last season, and I love that exchange and confidence.

Still, when it is time to punt the football, having a punter who can boom the football and help both sides of the ball by winning the field position battle is a huge asset, making the acquisition cost worth it.

Grade: B

Round 5, Pick 144 (via Buffalo): Austin Booker | EDGE | Kansas

The Kiran Amegadjie and Tory Taylor selections got a boost in value when Ryan Poles traded back into the fifth round to land the pass rusher that most anticipated the Bears landing over the weekend. Poles sent a 2025 fourth-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for their 2024 fifth-round pick that Buffalo owned via the Ryan Bates trade.

Austin Booker is a player that I saw as a fit for the Bears in the third round. His small sample size in college made it possible for Chicago to circle back in the fifth and snatch the high-ceiling pass rusher from Kansas.

Booker had limited playing time in college but made the most of it with eight sacks and 12 TFL last season. The Bears were impressed by his high pressure rate and believe he has room to improve by gaining more weight and experience. Although he likely won't compete for a starting role in his rookie season, he could play in a rotational position behind Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker. If he develops into a reliable pass rusher while learning from them, he’ll eventually be a starter opposite Sweat.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler on the Bears selection of Austin Booker:

“Chicago only had two Day 3 choices, and I’m not going to pick the punter (Tory Taylor). The Bears used a 2025 fourth-round pick to trade back into this draft (at No. 144) and scoop up Booker, who easily could have been drafted on Day 2. Although he isn’t ready for a meaningful role as a rookie, Booker has the promising pass-rush savvy to be a steal when we look back at this selection in two or three years.”

Grade: B+

Overall, this Bears draft class grades out as an A-. It’s the best class we’ve seen in years, with high-end premium talent at the top in Williams and Odunze, a day-one starter at punter in Taylor, and two high-ceiling developmental selections on each side of the line in Amegadjie and Booker. Take a bow, Ryan Poles.

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