Finding balance in the
Force buzz surrounding the NFL this time of year is key.
On the one hand, you can’t trust everything coming out right now, as the opportunities for subterfuge are plentiful leading up to the NFL Draft. But on the other hand, there are times when morsels of truth slip through. Admittedly, trying to catch all of those is a challenge. But when it comes to Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Poles, I think he opened a window into what he is looking for in his first-ever draft as a GM.
The Bears Will Be Drafting to Satisfy Justin Fields’ Needs
Does Poles need to build out the entirety of the Bears’ roster? Absolutely. But he also has an obligation to try and do right by quarterback Justin Fields and the rest of this offense. To this point of the offseason, Poles’ efforts have been mostly fruitless. Particularly at the receiver position and along the offensive line. Adding Lucas Patrick was a heady move, as signing a versatile interior lineman with the ability to start at two positions improves the offensive line and maintains flexibility heading into the NFL Draft. Bolstering the bottom of the receivers depth chart with Byron Pringle is a nice touch, too. As was taking a flier on Equanimeous St. Brown, a receiver whose full potential remains untapped as he enters his fifth year in the league.
With that in mind, it is comforting to know that Poles knows as well as we do what this offense needs:
#Bears GM Ryan Poles: "You could say [Justin Fields] needs receivers, receivers, receivers, but he needs blocking too and he also needs balance in terms of running the ball efficiently."
— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) April 26, 2022
Of course, we’ve known these to be top-tier Bears needs going into the offseason. And yet, game-changers at either position groups haven’t been brought into the fold. So while that was disappointing, we’ve long known in the back of our minds that the NFL Draft would provide an opportunity to take one more swing at those spots. It would surprise me if the Bears left this weekend’s draft without adding intriguing prospects along the offensive line and at wide receiver.
These Positions Are Deep, But Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
Poles made it a point to underscore these positions as being deep ones in the upcoming NFL Draft…
#Bears GM Ryan Poles says OL, DL, DB & RB look like positions that will have depth in Day 2 & Day 3 of the draft. Says running back is particularly deep even if it's not a top heavy position.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) April 26, 2022
… BUT I’m more inclined to read this as a tip that Poles is lining up receiver options on Days 2 and 3.
What better way to declare your intent by intentionally throwing everyone off your path?
And in addition to possibly tipping his hand by not mentioning the one obvious position group that is generally viewed as deep, he also found himself underscoring positions the Bears figure to be active in adding via the draft. After they plug holes at receiver. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears take swings along the offensive line, at defensive line spots, in the secondary, and even a late-round running back.
Using PFF’s big board, let’s take a brief moment to examine the depth, particularly in the trenches:
• There are 32 offensive linemen prospects checking in between 35 and 200 on the big board. In other words, we could see the Bears target a top-100 overall prospect at the position with that 71st overall pick when they go on the clock in Round 3. But they could also circle back to add depth with Picks 148, 150, or 186.
• If the Bears can execute a trade-back (or two), there is a sweet spot of defensive line options who could be had in the picks between 80-200. There are 22 interior defensive linemen and edge defenders ranking between 80-200 on PFF’s big board.
• The same can be said about the defensive backfield, where there are 24 cornerbacks and safeties who PFF rank between 70-200 on their board.
In the end, I think Poles gave us an inkling as to where he thinks he can make some hay on draft weekend. Soon, he’ll get the opportunity to execute.