The Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and as things currently stand, they're not expected to take a quarterback in that spot. However, they could change their mind, and if that happens, C.J. Stroud has a message for the franchise: Don't draft me.
It's not often you hear a top draft prospect tell a team not to draft him, but that's exactly what the former Ohio State quarterback did during his media session at the NFL combine on Friday. Stroud was asked about being drafted by the Bears and he made his stance pretty clear.
"I don't want to go there," Stroud said Friday, via PFT.
If you're wondering why Stroud is so adamantly against playing in Chicago, it's because Justin Fields is currently the starting quarterback for the Bears and Stroud is close friends with Fields.
"That's his team," Stroud said of Fields. "I can do my thing. I can go build my legacy. He texted me [Thursday] morning. Me and him are brothers for life."
Fields was the starting quarterback for two years at Ohio State (2019-20), and after he left, Stroud took over as the starter. The two quarterbacks were teammates at OSU in 2020 with Stroud serving as the backup QB for Fields.
Stroud was watching Fields in 2022 when the Bears quarterback became just the third QB in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season.
"I was proud of him," Stroud said. "There's so many times when you get knocked down, but I feel like a true man's character is when you get knocked down, you get up. And he's got up every time, and he's stepped up to the plate, and he hasn't blamed anybody; he hasn't pointed no fingers; and he hasn't done anything. As a human, that just shows you what type of man he is and what type of family he comes from."
The good news for Stroud (and Fields) is that Bears general manager Ryan Poles sounds content with the idea of moving forward with Fields as his starting quarterback.
"That's the plan, right now," Poles told reporters on Tuesday. "Like I said, we're going to do our homework on this [quarterback[ class and if something changes, and again, I will just use this same statement: We will have to be blown away to say, you know, I think this is best for our organization... Justin did some really good things -- I'm excited about where is game is going to go."
As for Stroud, who is the self-proclaimed best player in college football, he could end up being the first quarterback taken.
"For me, if you put on my film, I think I've been the best player in college football two years in a row," Stroud said, via ESPN.com. "Honestly, I haven't touched my potential yet."
The Texans (No. 2 overall pick), Colts (No. 4) and Raiders (No. 7) are all looking for a quarterback and it wouldn't be surprising at all if Stroud ends up being selected by one of those three teams. In our latest mock drafts here at CBSSports.com, three of our four draft gurus have Stroud going to the Texans with the No. 2 overall pick. You can see their full mocks by clicking here.