4 questions surrounding the Chicago Bears 9th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft

Answering the questions that the Chicago Bears will have regarding their second first-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Annie Barker / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Question No 3: Could the Bears still draft a center despite adding two veteran centers?

Ryan Poles addressed the biggest issue since he took over as the general manager by parting ways with both Cody Whitehair and Lucas Patrick at center. He traded for Ryan Bates from the Buffalo Bills and signed Coleman Shelton from the Los Angeles Rams.

Poles originally signed Bates to an offer sheet two years ago only to see the Bills match their offer. Now he gets his guy two years later after giving up their 2024 5th-round pick. Adding Shelton to a one-year deal further solidifies the position. But some fans are wondering if we are looking at Cody Whitehair/Lucas Patrick's situation at center once again: Different names, the same quality, and the same old problems.

The only center who could be drafted in the first round is Jackson Powers Johnson from Oregon. He was coached by the Bears' tight end coach Jim Dray during the Senior Bowl, so they have very good intel on him. But drafting him at 9th is a total reach. Trading down while adding extra 3rd and 4th-round picks to get him seems more plausible. Still, pairing a rookie quarterback with a rookie center seems very risky, which is why adding two veterans with starting experience made sense.

The other centers that could attract strong interest around the league include West Virginia's Zach Frazier, Sedrick Van Pran from Georgia, Beaux Limmer from Arkansas, Hunter Nourzad from Penn State, and Tanor Bortolini from Wisconsin.

Despite upgrading the position, the Bears could still draft a rookie center who can be developed and take over as the starting center in 2025 since Shelton is only signed through the 2024 season while Bates' contract expires after the 2025 season. If they do not want to draft a center, they could still sign one as an undrafted rookie to be placed on a practice squad. We will eventually find out how much Poles truly value the center position.