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Bears pick Washington WR Rome Odunze at No. 9


After selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams at No. 1, the Bears further bolstered their offense by choosing Washington receiver Rome Odunze at No. 9.

The 6-3, 215-pounder appeared in 40 games with 30 starts the past four seasons for the Huskies, catching 214 passes for 3,272 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Last season Odunze was named AP First-Team All-American and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award which honors the nation's top receiver after establishing career highs with 92 receptions, 1,640 yards and 13 TDs. His 1,640 yards led all FBS receivers and were the most in Washington history.

As a junior in 2022, Odunze was named AP Third-Team All-American after catching 75 passes for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns.

During a Zoom call with Chicago media Thursday night, Odunze was asked what type of receiver the Bears are getting.

"They're getting a versatile receiver," he said. "I think I do a lot of things well on the field, honestly, from playing outside, playing inside, catching contested balls, creating separation. I feel like I do all these things at a high level. And I'm looking to come and make that immediate impact, find my role within the team with great receivers like Keenan Allen and DJ Moore already there. Just finding my role within that and creating avenues for the offense to have success." ranks Odunze as the third best player in the draft, with analyst Lance Zierlein writing: "A team captain with good size and elite ball skills, Odunze consistently dominated his competition. While most receivers look to open separation windows with speed or route running, Odunze seems to relish jump balls and contested catches. He shines in all aspects of ball skills, including positioning, body control, hand strength, timing and mid-air adjustments. He was a decorated high school sprinter, so speed should not be an issue in the pros. He's a high-volume target on the next level that play-callers can utilize to mismatch finesse cornerbacks. Elite ball skills are often the secret sauce for top NFL receivers, so it should not surprise if Odunze is a Day 1 starter who becomes a top-flight WR1."

Odunze is the second star receiver the Bears have added this offseason, following the March 14 acquisition of veteran Keenan Allen in a trade with the Chargers.

With the 9th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bears select Washington receiver Rome Odunze. Take a look at photos of Odunze in action. (Photos via AP)

With Allen and DJ Moore, the Bears are the only NFL team with two receivers who both compiled at least 1,200 yards last season. Allen finished 11th in the league with 1,243 yards, while Moore was sixth with a career-high 1,364 yards.

Odunze hopes to learn from Allen and Moore.

"They've been veterans in the league, been doing well for themselves for a long time, so soak up all the information that I can and learn from them and hopefully go out there and make some plays too," Odunze said. "I just came from a wide receiver trio that was able to have a lot of success at my college, so I think we can just do the same exact thing, but at the next level.

"When you look at Keenan's game, how complete it is, when you look at DJ Moore, how he's able to compete in the league at a high level for a long time now, the possibilities are endless of what I'm able to learn. That's why I say I'm going to go in there and soak up all the information I can and learn as much as I can from them, because they're already two very established, very elite receivers in the league."

Odunze is confident the Bears are on the right track and is eager to help them continue to ascend.

"Chicago has continued to develop, continued to get better as a team and the goal for them I know already is the Super Bowl," Odunze said. "We're going to make strides towards that, to have that success, and we'll build brick-by-brick to go accomplish that."

Odunze grew up in Las Vegas and was named the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Bishop Gorman High School after catching 54 passes for 1,222 yards and 15 TDs. He was also named All-State in track after winning the state title in the 200-meter race.

As a kid, Odunze was a big Devin Hester fan, telling reporters he wore No. 23 when he played youth football.

"He had this tape on YouTube that I played back-to-back," Odunze said. "I don't know how I stumbled upon it, but he had this tape to a Lil Wayne track, and I probably watched it over 100 times of him returning kicks, returning kicks in the Super Bowl. That just really inspired me."

RELATED: Follow's Draft Central for the latest news, information and more on all the Bears' 2024 draft picks.

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