CJ Stroud and Justin Fields spent just one year together at Ohio State. That doesn’t diminish what the Buckeye brotherhood means to Stroud as he embarks on an NFL career.
Widely projected to go in the top 10 of the 2023 draft, Stroud was recently asked about the possibility of being drafted by the Chicago Bears. The two-time Heisman Trophy finalist defended his former Buckeyes teammate while making it clear he has no interest in playing in the Windy City this year and taking Fields’ job.
“I don’t want to go there. This is his team,” Stroud told reporters when asked about the idea of replacing Fields in Chicago. “I have to do my thing and I have to go build my legacy. He texted me yesterday morning. Me and him are brothers for life.”
Stroud wasn’t done rooting for his fellow Buckeyes, noting that Fields became a bigger runner last year because he was under constant pressure.
“You have to make plays with your feet and he’s not a damn runner,” Stroud said. “He’s a quarterback. He can throw that rock,”
The Bears own the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, and there has been plenty of speculation about what the organization will do with it. Chicago GM Ryan Poles said earlier this week that keeping Fields is “the plan right now,” but also noted that the club is doing its homework on this year’s QB prospects. Naturally, several teams are interested in the top pick if the Bears decide to trade.
“We have flexibility where if there are opportunities, if we can turn it into a lot of players helping us, we can do it,” Poles said. “Whether it’s holding or being really selective with certain people, we can do that, too. I know my expectation, our expectation, is that we move the needle to be more successful. We can win some of these close games and bring them in. guys who can impact this football team.”
Fields, who will enter his third NFL season, took a noticeable step forward in 2022, throwing for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns. The former No. 11 overall pick added 1,143 rushing yards and eight rushing scores, becoming just the third QB in NFL history to surpass the 1,000-yard mark. So Chicago might be more inclined to keep their young QB instead of restarting with a rookie.
FOX Sports NFC North reporter Carmen Vitali recently looked at five potential trade partners for the top pick. The Indianapolis Colts were the top contender based on the carry they could offer in exchange for the first overall pick.
“This scenario would probably give Chicago the best balance sheet of a sizeable return while securing a franchise turnover prospect,” Vitali said. “Even though it’s only three spots, I figured the Bears could push for a future first-round pick in 2024 along with a second- or third-round pick this year and a Day 2 or 3 pick the next.”
While speculation surrounding the Bears will likely continue leading up to the draft, history shows that moving the first pick is extremely rare. In fact, the No. 1 pick has been dealt just twice in the last 26 years. It last happened in 2016, when the Los Angeles Rams traded up to No. 1 to select Cal’s Jared Goff. The previous instance was in 2001, when the Atlanta Falcons moved up from No. 2 to select Michael Vick first overall.
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