Ryan Poles’s first draft as Bears General Manager featured a night at Halas and lots of trades. Chicago Bears Blog

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago BearsRyan Poles, general manager, slept in Halas Hall Friday night as Ryan navigated through his first draft weekend.

Before beginning Saturday’s Day 3 marathon, which featured Rounds 4-7, Poles asked each of his scouts to walk in front of the board with a notepad and write down three players they were most intent on drafting. The star was placed next to each name. Chicago was the winner of most of the players from that wish list when it came to making decisions: Chicago won the fifth round twice and the seventh round three times.

Poles had made four trades to turn three draft picks in to eight. The Bears now have their largest ever haul of 11 players since 2008. They have acquired four defenders as well six offensive players and one punter. Poles’ aggressive approach with trades aligned with what the 36-year-old said during the pre-draft process — he wanted to give the Bears more chances to find talent that would stick.

Poles was a master of patience and discipline when it came to selecting players. Although it was tempting to sign a wide receiver as a second-year quarterback, Poles kept his hands off of that temptation. Justin Fields, Poles didn’t allow a run of wide receiver picks to sway him back into the first round. The Bears traded their pick in the first round to the New York GiantsIn order to draft Fields at No. 11 in 2021

Poles didn’t pick up the phone to work a trade on Thursday. He says he didn’t field any calls, either.

And when a host of receivers and offensive linemen were available in the second round, Poles didn’t waiver in his approach. The GM was particularly impressed with the offensive line and said that he believed he would find the right spot to address it, especially since he had pre-drafted the position.

Chicago's cornerback was named Washington because it stayed true to the draft board. This is where the Bears had the highest-valued players. Kyler GordonAt No. 39 and Penn State safety Jaquan BriskerAt No. 48.

Poles and his staff conducted countless simulations in order to determine what the draft would yield. Sometimes, the defense was doubled in the second round. But the general manager didn't think Gordon would be available, as he had not allowed a touchdown in 696 coverage snaps while at college.



Here are some highlights from CB Kyler Gordon’s time with Washington Huskies.

“There’s actually one time we ran it through and he was there, and we said just ignore him, just act like it’s not there,” Poles said, reflecting a belief Gordon would be drafted by the time the Bears picked. “So when it actually happened, it was a really cool moment, and we’re excited about adding a guy that I believe is going to be a starting-caliber corner.”

Brisker is also considered by the Bears to be a potential starter opposite. Eddie Jackson.

Though building out the supporting cast around Fields remains an incomplete task and a priority, aiding Chicago’s secondary was as important for a team executing a multi-faceted rebuild.

“I’m an offensive line guy,” said Poles, who played the position at Boston College. “Obviously, I would fire away at all of them if I could, but it really comes down to the preparation. It really comes down the value of guys and how they are treated by the board. And where we sat, there were two good starting-level defensive players, and I would have made a huge mistake for this organization to say, ‘Let’s leave them there, let someone else take them, and we’re going to go offense where they’re not on the same level,’ and you’re kicking yourself a year or two later when that guy’s an All-Pro.

“I just did what I needed at the time, so again it comes back to discipline and doing things the right [way], and I felt like that’s going to be a decision that we’re all happy with.”

Chicago added three defensive backs, including Cal safety in the seventh round. Elijah Hicks, to a defense that ranked 27th in opponents’ yards per attempt and was dead last in passer rating allowed last season. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Bears' 31 passing touchdowns in 2021 tied the record for most in their history. A cornerback was the closest defender on 27 of these 31 TDs (the highest in the NFL),

The Bears finally found the offensive line on Day 3. They brought back four prospects.

While fifth-to-seventh-round offensive linemen usually begin their NFL careers with a considerable learning curve, the Bears hope the experience these players have will accelerate their development: offensive tackle Braxton Jones started all 11 games at Southern Utah last fall; San Diego State’s Zach Thomas has 32 career starts between left tackle, right tackle and right guard; Illinois’ Doug KramerAt center, he had 45 career start and Ja'Tyre CarterSouthern was his four-year starting point.

Third round receiver Velus Jones Jr. His six-year college football career was limited in offensive production. However, Chicago fell in love his 4.3 speed in hopes that he would be lined up outside in the slot and used in the return.

The same applies to Dominique Robinson, a former wide receiver-turned-defensive end who candidly described himself as “really raw” while still in the early stages of learning how to rush the passer.

“I think there’s only upside with this kid, which is what we’re betting on and what we invested in,” Bears area scout Brendan Rehor said.

Poles explained that it is common for draft picks to be drafted, particularly in the later rounds of the draft, using a three year timeframe. The general manager joked that he’d like to know “tomorrow” if the Bears’ hit rate was as successful as he hoped for but knows that isn’t realistic.

The Bears now must address the needs that weren’t met during the draft. The draft ended with only one receiver (and a running back). Trestan Ebner, who could earn some slot reps), Poles wouldn’t rule out signing a veteran receiver to aid the offense.

“If that’s the route we need to go, then we will,” Poles said. “If we feel comfortable with our group, then we’re still going to look for talent. We always do.”

The Bears hope that the talent that was drafted and available in college free agency will help them build a roster that is consistent with their long-term goals for the franchise. For now, it’s a start and step in the right direction.

“What I told our group and everyone in this organization, we’re just gonna keep pounding and pounding and pounding, knowing that we can’t fix everything in one year, but we can sure just keep chipping away and improving,” Poles said.

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