How would this prospect fit the Bears? LSU WR Malik Nabers

Could LSU’s Malik Nabers possibly drop to the Bears? Would they trade up for him?

LSU receiver Malik Nabers reacts after his touchdown against Georgia State during a game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

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 head 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.

Shaw Local is taking a look at a number of potential prospects who could fit the Bears’ needs at No. 9. Here’s what LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers brings to the table and how he might fit in with Chicago.

Position breakdown

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen reacts on his touchdown against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif.

In March, 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 includes Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Scott at the receiver position.

Jones has been a high-level kickoff return man, but hasn’t made any impact on offense. Scott, a fourth-round pick last year, 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 2 of the draft.

What Nabers brings to the table

A Louisiana native, Malik Nabers posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with LSU in 2022 and 2023. His 2023 season was truly remarkable. He totaled 89 receptions for 1,569 receiving yards and 14 receiving touchdowns.

Of the top three receivers in the draft [including Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Washington’s Rome Odunze], Nabers is the smallest, but at 6-foot, 200 pounds he’s definitely not small. He could have a tougher time against physical cornerbacks at the NFL level, but overall his size is not a concern. Nabers has an impressive 42-inch vertical jump and he uses it well when catching jump balls over defenders. He also ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. His combination of athleticism and speed is impressive.

Nabers is a big reason why LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels won the Heisman Trophy in 2023. That duo went wild all season long. Simply put, Nabers makes big plays. Remarkably, he had one catch of 20-plus yards in all 12 of the games he played in last season. He was versatile, too, spending about half his time operating from the slot and the other half lining up out wide. He’s also young. He won’t turn 21 until late July.

Will Nabers realistically be on the board at No. 9?

Highly unlikely. Three months ago, maybe. But Nabers’ draft stock skyrocketed over the past few months. The more scouts and analysts dug into his game, the more there was to like.

Some now are making the argument that Nabers should be the top receiver in the 2024 draft. Ohio State’s Harrison has basically held that title since his breakout season in 2022. While Harrison probably remains the favorite to be the first receiver selected, it’s not a sure thing.

All that being said, if the Bears really want Nabers, they will likely have to trade up from No. 9 to get him. It’s possible, but it would come at a cost.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.