Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles and Rome Odunze.

The Chicago Bears are sitting on a gold mine with the No. 1 and No. 9 overall picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The entire football world knows what the Bears will do with the No. 1 pick (a gift from the Carolina Panthers in a 2023 trade): select USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

But what should the Bears do with the No. 9 pick?

We can assume that at least three quarterbacks will be off the board, with Williams (obviously), LSU’s Jayden Daniels, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy all strong possibilities to be top-8 picks. We can also assume that Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers will be off the board.

It’s less certain who else will be gone before the No. 9 pick, but Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt, Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner, UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, and Florida State edge rusher Jared Verse will be in discussion as potential selections before the Bears’ pick. And they’re all players that have been linked to the Bears at No. 9 (or in a trade-down scenario from No. 9).

Additionally, while the Bears are third in draft capital value, they only have four picks in this draft after making trades (which included acquiring star defensive end Montez Sweat, star wide receiver Keenan Allen, and potential starting center Ryan Bates). So, it’s easy to see Chicago general manager Ryan Poles wanting to acquire more picks.

Two Bears fans here at The Comeback, Matt Clapp and Robert O’Neill, put ourselves in Poles’ shoes to discuss what the organization should do with the No. 9 pick.

Matt Clapp: It’s finally almost here, Rob, after a few very long months in the Bearsverse. The (exhausting) quarterback debate is over, but the debate on what the Bears should do at No. 9 will continue until draft night (Thursday, April 25). Honestly, this pick just feels like an incredible bonus to me after getting Caleb Williams, and it would be hard for me to be upset with what Ryan Poles chooses to do. Still, it’s a very important pick and opportunity. And if Williams is anything close to what we hope he is, the Bears probably aren’t picking in the top-10 again for a long while.

Robert O’Neill: I can’t believe we’re finally here. It feels like it’s been years since the season ended and months since Justin Fields was traded. I definitely agree it feels like a bonus pick, because if you were going to have two top-10 picks in a draft, this is sure a good one, as it feels very top-heavy. A lot has been made about the Bears only having four picks, but two of them being in the top-10 certainly helps things, as does having a definitive QB1 on the board to select with one of them. The ninth pick should certainly be interesting, though.

Matt: Indeed. And I feel like there are so many routes Poles could go. There are obvious big-picture needs at wide receiver and at defensive end. Maybe Poles feels the same way about offensive tackle and defensive tackle too, for example.

Does he think Braxton Jones is a “franchise” left tackle, and one he wants to give a lucrative contract extension in the near future? Does he — along with defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus — think Gervon Dexter is a true long-term starting answer as the coveted three-technique defensive tackle in this defense?

The answer to these questions could very well be yes, but the reality is that we’ll enter draft week not knowing how they feel for sure. And if the answer to either question is no, that opens up more potential prospects in play at No. 9, as well as in a trade-down scenario, of course.

Robert: Taking a tackle is definitely intriguing, especially if someone like Joe Alt makes it to No. 9. We saw the impact Darnell Wright had last year, and having two tackles through the rest of the decade to protect your franchise quarterback is intriguing.

However, I think they have to take a wide receiver. D.J. Moore was awesome in his first year with the Bears, and I’m thrilled he’s there. If Keenan Allen stays healthy, he has a chance to have a big year as well. But Allen is on a one-year deal and the receiver depth behind he and Moore isn’t great. There are three wide receivers that mostly everyone has agreed throughout the process are top-10 picks: Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze. I think Harrison and Nabers will be taken before the Bears pick, but Odunze should be there. If Odunze is there at No. 9, he should be the pick.

Matt: Yeah, this is ultimately where I land too. It would be really hard for me to truly be “upset” with whatever Poles chooses here. But if Odunze is still on the board, I’d make that pick in a heartbeat, and I’d be — at least mildly — disappointed if the Bears passed on him.

My personal Bears big board would be Williams, Harrison, Nabers, Odunze in that order; heck, I think you could argue those are the four best prospects in general (Daniel Jeremiah would agree). To get two of them would be an absolute dream draft. As you alluded to, having Odunze join Moore and Allen? Amazing. You can be sure that Odunze would learn quite a few tricks from those star, savvy veterans.

And what an incredible situation for Williams to walk into, which is the big win in it all. After Justin Fields was largely failed with the situation around him in years one and two, it would be huge to put Williams in position for proper development — and potential success — immediately.

Robert: So, earlier you mentioned a trade-down scenario. Let me ask you this: What pick does Harrison have to fall to for you to consider a trade-up situation, moving No. 9 and presumably one of the team’s two 2025 second round picks? Personally, if Harrison is still there when the Los Angeles Chargers are on the clock at No. 5, I think it’s at least worth a phone call.

Matt: Yep, I completely agree. I think Poles has to at least explore trading up, especially if he has concerns about the likelihood of one of these wide receivers making it to No. 9 – and even more so if he highly prefers Harrison or Nabers, of course.

And yeah, the chances that all of the wide receivers make it to pick No. 5 seem to be increasing, with four quarterbacks potentially going in the first four picks.

Sure, dipping into future draft capital yet again would leave us feeling uneasy, but they do have two 2025 second-round picks, and they don’t appear to have many immediate needs; I view it as more of a quality > quantity situation over the next two years. We aren’t hearing many people complain now that the Houston Texans traded up from No. 12 to No. 3 last year to select Will Anderson after drafting C.J. Stroud at No. 2. Who’s going to complain about giving up a 2025 second-round pick (and perhaps a bit more, but probably not substantially so) to secure an elite wide receiver prospect?

It’s not just about adding a special prospect at a premium position; it’s about putting Williams in the best position to succeed. I’m all about going all-in to help your young quarterback. If you accelerate his development and if he’s looking anything like the quarterback NFL evaluators think he can be, everything else will get much easier in the coming years- and while on a rookie contract for a while. Even if it’s just moving up one or two spots to secure Odunze or Nabers, I absolutely think it’s worth it in this situation.

Robert: You hit the nail on the head when you said it’s about putting Williams in the best position to succeed. The Bears inexplicably didn’t do this with Fields until they acquired Moore, instead having him throw to Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, and plenty of other underperforming wide receivers in his time with Chicago. It’s paramount to learn from that mistake and not repeat it. There was a time where I thought that someone like Dallas Turner or Laiatu Latu could have been the pick here, but if you look across the NFL, the good, great, and elite teams all have multiple quality options at wide receiver.

Matt: And I’m fine if they want to address defense at No. 9. That’s likely to be the first or second defensive player taken in this draft, and they’ll absolutely need to upgrade the pass rush over the next two years, hopefully sooner than later. You don’t trade down just to trade down, especially if you love a player at No. 9 and have any concerns about that player not being there at a later pick. And, again, you might not get a chance at another blue-chip prospect — let’s say they have a particular defensive prospect graded as such now — anytime soon if the team is ascending. But I’d definitely feel better to add draft capital if they choose to go the defensive route, then pick one of the EDGE defenders or a defensive tackle like Byron Murphy II or Jer’Zhan Newton after a trade down.

Robert: While I think we both have our preferred options, it’s nice that No. 9 feels like a situation where the Bears can’t screw it up, as there should be plenty of solid options on both sides of the ball. This could be a legacy-defining draft for Poles and could alter the course of the franchise. It’s nice to have some optimism.

Matt: Agreed. It will be really interesting to see what Poles chooses. I can’t wait to find out.