The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column: Bears 2024 draft grades

Photo Courtesy of Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune
New Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze and quarterback Caleb Williams pose for photographs at Halas Hall on April 26.

After a couple of nights of sleep to avoid the during-draft hype, it is time for your sports editor to grade the Bear’s most important draft in a long time. After an exciting offseason that already included resigning Pro Bowl corner Jaylon Johnson, adding Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen, Pro Bowl running back D’Andre Swift (somehow), tight end Gerald Everett, safety Kevin Byard and Simone Biles’ boyfriend, the Bears turned to the draft last Thursday. 

After somehow convincing the Panthers to give up assets that even the Madden franchise mode simulator on the hardest difficulty wouldn’t request for last year’s No. 1 overall pick, it was Chicago with the No. 1 selection in 2024. 

Before we jump into the five Bears selections, I’d like to make it very clear that I am not Bleacher Report who hands out an A+ for a bunch of guys, because that just isn’t realistic. A+ drafts are the 2012 Seahawks grabbing Bobby Wagner, Russel Wilson, Bruce Irvin and J.R. Sweezy or the Ravens getting Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Jermaine Lewis in 1996. With that being said, let’s grade the 2024 Bears. 


Round 1, Pick 1 – Caleb Williams (QB, Southern California): A

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The Bears made the first pick easy on Thursday night, going with the nearly unanimous selection to go No. 1. Williams has been a star since attending Gonzaga College High School in Washington D.C., with an elite arm, elite pocket presence and the unique ability to play-make at a high level in the most extreme circumstances. 

My only bone to pick with the 22-year-old? His teams underperformed every year in college. Williams’ freshman season at Oklahoma ended six consecutive Big 12 championships for the Sooners. After following Lincoln Riley to USC for his next two seasons, they brought in the No. 6 and No. 7 recruiting classes but finished No. 10 and unranked in the final CFP polls with no conference championships. 

The pressure to deliver winning football is immense, especially for a fanbase eager to return to the big stage. His talent and potential are undeniable, so if he gains a little humility and X-factor ability in the clutch, I think Caleb will be the franchise guy for years to come.


Round 1, Pick 9 – Rome Odunze (WR, Washington): A+

How the Atlanta Falcons left his guy on the board for the Bears still has me perplexed, but regardless, it’s a slam dunk. After having no certified route runners on the roster a year ago, the Bears add Williams from Los Angeles, and then arguably the best in the draft. 

After 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, Odunze led the nation with 1,640 yards and added 13 touchdowns in 2023. I love getting Caleb a receiver to grow with and this is my favorite pick of their draft.


Round 3, Pick 75 – Kiran Amegadjie (OT, Yale): D+

This one had me stumbling. It’s a guy who would’ve been available in the next round and screamed reach to me. He’s coming off an injury and is unbelievably raw, having played at an Ivy for his collegiate career. He could prove me wrong, but he’s a third-round, undeveloped, depth pick for a rebuilding team — weird. 


Round 4, Pick 122 – Tory Taylor (P, Iowa): B-

I enjoyed this pick. Special teams are important, and way too many of these guys go undrafted. That being said, the fourth round for a rebuilding team annoyed me a little because it felt like real talent could’ve been grabbed by Ryan Poles here. Still, the No. 4 punter in the country in terms of average yards per punt is bringing an absolute boot to Chicago to strengthen the special teams unit. 


Round 5, Pick 144 – Austin Booker (Edge, Kansas): B

This is one of the types of players I would’ve liked to see Chicago pursue more heavily in the third and fourth rounds. Six-foot-five and 240 pounds coming off the edge to attack opposing quarterbacks. He only started one game in college but still racked up 56 tackles, eight sacks and two forced fumbles, showing a glimpse of what he can do if he gets consistent. 


Bears Complete Draft Grade: A-

It was a very, very solid draft for Poles, and it seems like he’s finally getting comfortable in his job. He has been fortunate to have players and trades land in his lap the last two years, and he hasn’t done too much questionable afterward. He has built a solid roster that should compete to be .500 this year and have Bears fans obnoxiously crying “Super Bowl” next offseason.


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About the Contributor
Ben Fader
Ben Fader, Sports Editor
Hello, I’m Ben! I’m a junior at Illinois and assistant sports editor at The Daily Illini. I’m majoring in journalism and minoring in communications and recreation, sport and tourism. This is my third year with The Daily Illini, and I can’t wait to produce some amazing work. Feel free to contact me at my email below with questions or concerns, or if you just want to talk sports!
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