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Bears Get No.1 Overall Pick After Loss to Vikings in Season Finale

Chicago Bears (Photo: NFL)

The Chicago Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft following a 29-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in their season finale.

Chicago, originally holding the No. 2 pick entering Week 18, leapfrogged the Houston Texans in the draft order after the Texans defeated the Indianapolis Colts 32-31. The Bears needed a loss coupled with a Texans win to clinch the top spot.

A dramatic fourth-quarter sequence concluded with a 28-yard touchdown reception by Texans tight end Jordan Akins on a fourth-and-20 pass from Davis Mills, followed by a successful 2-point conversion, propelling Houston to their third win of the season and a final record of 3-13-1.

Despite the victory, it dropped Houston to the No. 2 spot in the draft order. Texans head coach Lovie Smith, who previously coached the Bears from 2004 to 2012, acknowledged the consequences of winning in his postgame comments, affirming that their game plan for Week 18 was to compete and secure the victory.

“This is an option that I had,” Smith stated. “So, you’re saying, ‘Hey guys, play in this last game, all that you’ve been working for your life, you play to win, forget that. Lose the game on purpose.’ Like, that will be a hard one to get by.

They won’t expect me to say that. I didn’t. What we work on each week, our game plan, has been to win the game. It’s kind of simple as that. That’s what we follow through on the day.”

Chicago concluded their season with a 3-14 record, enduring a franchise-worst 10-game losing streak.

Quarterback Justin Fields missed the finale due to a hip injury sustained the previous week against Detroit, finishing his second season just 64 yards shy of the single-season quarterback rushing record. The Bears led the league in rushing offense but ranked last in passing for the 2023 season.

Following the game, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus focused on upcoming exit interviews with players rather than dwelling on securing the top draft pick.

However, he expressed full confidence in general manager Ryan Poles to strengthen Chicago’s roster during the offseason. Alongside securing the No. 1 pick, the Bears possess seven additional draft selections and significant salary cap space exceeding $108 million.

“High confidence, no question,” Eberflus affirmed regarding Poles. “The first thing of a personnel manager is the ability to pick players, and he can do that.

Chicago Bears Against Broncos (Photo: Armando L. Sanchez)

The place where he came from, he has shown that this year already, and we look at the guys the same way. We like long, lean, fast, physical players. That’s certainly — we’ve both have been a part of that in our past, and we’re excited about getting that going.”

Enhancing the defensive and offensive lines tops Chicago’s offseason agenda. The Bears recorded the fewest sacks per game (1.3) among all NFL teams and pressured opposing quarterbacks on just 20.9% of dropbacks, ranking 31st in the league.

Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter is projected to go No. 2 to Chicago, followed by Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson and Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson. These prospects are potential solutions to bolster Chicago’s pass rush.

Chicago also faces urgent needs at wide receiver. Darnell Mooney, the team’s top receiver with 493 yards and two touchdowns, suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11.

Mooney, along with Equanimeous St. Brown, Chase Claypool, and Velus Jones Jr., are the only receivers currently under contract for the 2023 season. St. Brown recently signed a one-year extension with the Bears.

“Whoever we [get] needs to make an impact now,” remarked Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker in response to Chicago’s top draft pick.

“Whoever comes in, we’re going to turn things around, so have his mentality right. Whoever we get, hopefully it’s somebody great. It’s time to turn it around.

Really don’t want to be on the side of having the number one pick, but since we’re here, it’s that time to make the team better, get the organization better and change this thing around.”

The Bears find themselves in a pivotal position to potentially trade back. Currently, Chicago is not among the early draft picks targeting quarterbacks, a group that includes Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Carolina.

In 1947, Chicago drafted Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) halfback Bob Fenimore at No. 1, and he played one season with the Bears, appearing in 10 games.

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