You couldn’t open a mock draft from January ’til April without seeing the Bears grabbing a receiver in Round 2.
And when the Bears were unable to bolster the position with a difference maker via trade or free agency, it made even more sense as to why seemingly every mock draft was connecting the Bears to any and all receiver prospects. Everything was pointing to the Bears drafting for need.
But the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone. And although some paths to select a pass-catcher arose, the Bears ultimately passed on the opportunity. Why? Let Poles explain (via The Athletic):
“It comes down to the board and where guys are valued,” Poles said Saturday after the draft concluded. “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 to offense where they’re not on the same level. And then you’re kicking yourself a year or two later when that guy’s an All-Pro.”
This is a reasonable explanation. And it’s something Bears fans are all too familiar with having gone through the Ryan Pace experiment. After all, we’re only two years removed from the Bears taking an offensive player at a position of need (TE Cole Kmet) over defensive players who ranked higher than him on pre-draft boards (S Antoine Winfield Jr., CB Trevon Diggs) who have gone on to receive Pro Bowl recognition. In other words, with his second round selections, Poles has – in essence – made sure to not make the same mistakes with his process that his predecessor made. That counts for something, right?
And, let’s give the picks this perspective: Kyler Gordon (chosen with the 39th pick) and Jaquan Brisker (48th) were ranked 36th and 38th overall on The Athletic’s top-300 consensus big board, which takes into consideration rankings from 82 different experts. The five receivers who went in the second round after the Bears made their picks were 91st (Wan’Dale Robinson, 43rd to NYG), 62nd (John Metchie III, 44th to HOU), 155th (Tyquan Thornton, 50th to NE), 46th (George Pickens, 52nd to PIT), 77th (Alec Pierce, 53rd to IND), and 50th (Skyy Moore, 54th to KC) in the rankings. So it’s not as if the Bears didn’t get value at the position. It’s just that they got the value at alternative positions of need
There were (and still are) needs to get Fields help in the pass-catching department. No one denies this. But it seems to me that Poles was essentially weighing the value of drafting two players who were higher on his board (regardless of position) than others who play a position of need, but weren’t as high on the board. The approach of taking the best player available is the one Poles appears to have taken. All things being equal, the Bears could have (and have) done worse.
Will he regret skipping out on a Round 2 receiver? It depends on how he approaches addressing help at the position in the weeks, months, and years to come.