Brad Biggs’ NFL mock draft: Top half of 1st round — where Bears have 2 picks — could be a wild ride

This is not the year for suspense when it comes to the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

Signs have pointed to the Chicago Bears using that selection on USC quarterback Caleb Williams for months, and that’s expected to come to fruition Thursday when the draft kicks off in Detroit.

But the top half of the first round could be a wild ride. One general manager predicts that scenario, noting the number of teams in the market for a quarterback, including a handful sitting just outside the top 10.

There could be a whole lot of “deal or no deal” early in the round as teams jockey for position. We take a final shot at figuring out what promises to be a fascinating draft for Bears general manager Ryan Poles in mock draft 4.0.

1. Bears (from Carolina Panthers): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The Bears have a better roster for a quarterback set to go No. 1 than there has been in a mighty long time. Wide receivers DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, tight ends Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett and an offensive line that should be improved will put Williams in position to avoid some of the bumps in the road encountered by many rookie quarterbacks — including some in the recent Bears past.

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Suspense begins with the second pick and much has been made about a crowded list of visits by QB prospects last week, but most signs have pointed to the Heisman Trophy winner Daniels for a while. Still, first-year GM Adam Peters has done an excellent job of masking his intentions and this will be interesting.

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Maye has excellent size and mobility and a strong arm, and some of his uneven tape with the Tar Heels can be attributed to the talent around him at times. Some believe he profiles a bit like Justin Herbert and there’s no question the makeup is there as well. There’s just not a lot to surround a quarterback with in New England right now.

4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Cardinals own 11 picks with six in the first three rounds, so they don’t really need to add more draft capital. That means they probably would have to be blown away to trade out of this spot. They can stay put and get the first non-quarterback and top receiver in the class.

5. Los Angeles Chargers: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

This is an ideal trade spot for a team lurking for Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, but the Chargers can’t move down very far and still have their pick of offensive linemen. Jim Harbaugh built up his powerful team at Michigan in the trenches. If the Chargers don’t get a trade offer that makes sense, they can feel good about selecting a lineman who should be a pillar for seasons to come.

6. New York Giants: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Giants approached the offseason by adding Drew Lock and saying enough positive things about Daniel Jones to make you believe he’s going to get another shot. But they’ve also done a lot of work on QBs in this class, and they can shake things up by grabbing McCarthy here if they don’t want a dangerous wide receiver.

7. New York Jets (projected trade with Tennessee Titans): Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

With Nabers still on the board and the Jets eager to provide QB Aaron Rodgers with an explosive playmaker, they can shoot up three spots and grab the LSU star. There are some character concerns about Nabers, but he’s so talented, some personnel officials maintain there’s a chance he comes off the board before Harrison.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Byron Murphy II, DT, Texas

The Falcons need an edge rusher, and a wide receiver or offensive tackle could be tempting. But it’s a thin class of defensive tackles and they can get the best of the bunch in Murphy. Coach Raheem Morris came from the Los Angeles Rams, so he knows what a disruptive interior player can do for a defense after working with Aaron Donald.

9. Bears: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

This feels like a spot where the Bears will either grab Odunze, who had a super-productive career at Washington, or select Murphy. One of them likely will be available if Poles passes on a trade-down scenario. Odunze could quickly emerge as a future star with Caleb Williams and essentially replace Keenan Allen in the future.

10. Titans (projected trade with Jets): Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Titans have to continue a total overhaul of the offensive line. They used a first-round pick on Peter Skoronski last year and signed center Lloyd Cushenberry in free agency. Adding Fuaga is the natural next step.

11. Minnesota Vikings: Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

The Vikings acquired another first-round pick with the idea they would be moving up to grab a quarterback. Surely GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is working on that, but the situation has to be right. They could be comfortable adding talent and reassessing the market for Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix later on. Fautanu is a little on the short side for a tackle (6-3 3/4) but should be a top-flight addition.

12. Denver Broncos: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

The Broncos are short on draft capital and really need a quarterback. If they can’t put together a move for one to transition from the Russell Wilson era, they can fill another serious need by getting the top cornerback on the board.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

The Raiders are another team in quarterback limbo and one to watch for Penix or Nix if they don’t get one of the top four. They also need help on the offensive line and can get some protection here with Latham.

14. New Orleans Saints: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

The Saints have aging Ryan Ramczyk at right tackle and can add youth on the opposite side by getting Fashanu, completing a run of four offensive linemen in a span of five selections.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Cornerback is probably the biggest need, scanning the team’s roster. The Colts could go that way or select Bowers, who would be a friendly target for QB Anthony Richardson.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

GM John Schneider has been pretty open that the Seahawks have needs in the trenches. If they go in a different direction, Verse is the kind of rugged defender who would be an interesting match for new coach Mike Macdonald.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Cornerback hasn’t been talked about as a strength in this draft, but the premium on the position always tends to push them up draft boards. Mitchell could go in the top half of Round 1 as he has a great combination of athletic traits and is physical.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Wide receiver isn’t the greatest need, but the Bengals didn’t re-sign Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins is playing on the franchise tag. Adding Thomas to Ja’Marr Chase could set up QB Joe Burrow for the future.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

Losing DT Aaron Donald to retirement puts a massive hole in the middle of Sean McVay’s defense. It’s not a great draft for interior lineman, but the Rams can start rebuilding their pass rush by getting the twitched-up Turner.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

The Steelers have to get better up front and Guyton is a tall, rangy right tackle who moves very well for a big man. Russell Wilson and Justin Fields were sacked way too much last season, so the Steelers have to improve their pass protection.

21. Miami Dolphins: Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

The Dolphins need pass-rushing talent with their veteran options coming off serious injuries last season. Provided Latu’s neck injury from the beginning of his college career checks out, he’s a skilled technician coming off the edge and plays with a high motor.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa

The Eagles have a knack for landing offensive linemen a year before they need them, so that’s a possibility here. They were torched in the secondary last season and can address that issue with the versatile DeJean.

23. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Vikings from Cleveland Browns via Houston Texans): Adonai Mitchell, WR, Texas

The Bills need to find help for QB Josh Allen after trading away Stefon Diggs. They will be lurking later in the round for a move, and jumping up four spots here helps them get a big target who is a polished route runner.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

It has been an odd offseason in Dallas as the Cowboys had way more losses than additions in free agency. They’ve been hit particularly hard up front on offense and need youth. Mims is a massive and long right tackle who should be able to help immediately.

25. Green Bay Packers: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

The Packers have a history of being proactive in building depth on the defensive line, but if they choose to address the secondary, McKinstry could be the pick. He is a smooth performer but doesn’t have high-end speed.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State

The Bucs’ greatest need is improving the pass rush, and Robinson has had a good offseason with a strong showing at the combine. He can provide them with pressure off the edge.

27. Cardinals (from Texans): Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois

The Cardinals should really improve their roster in this draft, and one missing element is a disruptive interior player. Newton can achieve his goal of moving into Round 1 after returning to school last fall.

28. Vikings (projected trade with Bills): Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

There’s a lot of debate about whether Nix will go in Round 1. The Vikings don’t have a second-round pick, but in this trade-down scenario, they get some draft capital back and still get a quarterback. The advantage to adding a QB at the end of Round 1 versus Round 2 is getting the fifth-year option in the rookie contract.

29. Detroit Lions: Ennis Rakestraw, CB, Missouri

Cornerback looked like a potential need even before veteran Cameron Sutton went on the run from the law and was released by the team before he finally turned himself in to authorities. As a cornerback who will do the work in run defense, Rakestraw fits the mold of the kind of player coach Dan Campbell seeks.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

How many times have we been here before, saying the Ravens need to get Lamar Jackson help on the outside? McConkey isn’t a vertical stretch guy but he’s super crafty and smooth and the kind of player who could really help Jackson.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Graham Barton, OL, Duke

The 49ers will need to replace Trent Williams in the near future. Barton played left tackle at Duke and some believe he’ll ultimately be best on the interior. He’s a smart, tough player, the kind Kyle Shanahan likes, and the 49ers can add him and figure out how he will fit later.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

If an offensive tackle slides to the end of Round 1, it’s the kind of pick you could see Andy Reid pushing for. But the Chiefs need to brace for WR Rashee Rice missing some time after his arrest on assault charges in Texas. Worthy is an absolute speed merchant and would be able to stretch the field for Patrick Mahomes.