Washington’s Odunze might have what it takes to fill Bears’ need for third wide receiver

While Caleb Williams to the Bears at No. 1 overall in the NFL draft feels like a formality at this point, what the Bears do with their second draft pick at No. 9 overall is up in the air. It will depend heavily upon what the teams ahead of them do.

With the No. 9 draft pick, general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus could look to fill needs at receiver, edge rusher or offensive tackle. Those are three premium position where the Bears still need to improve. They also could look to move up or down the draft board through trades.

Let’s look at a one of the prospects who could fit the Bears’ needs at No. 9 in the draft. Here’s what Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze brings to the table and how he might fit in Chicago.

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze (16) runs past Stanford safety Kendall Williamson, right, during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/John Hefti) The Associated Press

Position breakdown

The Bears made a major addition to the wide receiver position when they sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Chargers in exchange for receiver Keenan Allen. The 31-year-old Allen is coming off a 1,200-yard season last year (which he did in only 13 games). Even 11 seasons into his NFL career, Allen is playing at an extremely high level.

Allen will join returning star receiver DJ Moore, who surpassed 1,300 receiving yards in his first season with the Bears last year. The Bears lack a clear No. 3 receiver. The roster now includes Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Scott at the receiver position as well.

Jones has been a high-level kickoff return man but hasn’t made any impact on offense. Scott had an up-and-down rookie season in 2023. It seems likely the Bears could target a receiver either with the No. 9 overall pick or with a pick on Day Two of the draft.

What Odunze brings to the table

Odunze led all FBS players with 1,640 receiving yards in 2023. He did it on 92 catches with 13 touchdowns and only three drops all season long. He also returned one punt for a touchdown and scored one rushing touchdown. He earned First-Team All-America honors and helped the Huskies to an appearance in the national championship game. He was also a team captain last season.

At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Odunze has ideal size for the receiver position. He played primarily out wide and didn’t line up in the slot often. He excels at making tough catches and has excellent body control to go up and grab contested passes. His ball skills are elite. Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. simply had to loft a pass in Odunze’s direction and more often than not Odunze came down with the catch.

Odunze excelled in track during high school, winning a Nevada state championship in the 200 meters in 2019. He ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He also recorded a 39-inch vertical jump.

The only knocks against Odunze are that he can be more detailed in his route running and he has room to improve as a run blocker.

Will Odunze be available at No. 9?

This one feels like it’s 50-50. Of the top three receivers — including Odunze, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and LSU’s Malik Nabers — Odunze feels like he might be the most likely to drop to nine. But it will also depend heavily on a few other factors.

The biggest factor is the quarterback position. Will four QBs be selected within the top eight? If so, that probably will help push a receiver to the Bears at No. 9. The same could be said for offensive tackles or edge rushers.

At the same time, the top three receivers all might be gone within the first six or seven picks. For the Bears — who are trying to elevate one of the NFL’s worst passing attacks — an ideal scenario might be watching a receiver drop to them, but it’s certainly no guarantee.

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