It didn’t take first-year Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles long to make some significant changes after the franchise hired him to succeed Ryan Pace in January.
Poles, who played offensive line at Boston College from 2003 to 2007, spent 12 years in various executive roles for the Kansas City Chiefs before Bears chairman George McCaskey and a committee of four others chose him to be the seventh GM in team history.
It didn’t take long for the 36-year-old Poles to begin re-shaping the team, as he shipped All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack off to the Los Angeles Chargers less than two months after getting hired, while also letting several of the team’s veterans go, including gadget back Tarik Cohen, linebacker Danny Trevathan and nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
Apparently, Poles also made swift and significant changes to the team’s scouting process, according to one NFL insider.
ESPN Insider: Poles Overhauled Scouting Procedure
In his September 14 column, ESPN insider Dan Graziano revealed an interesting bit of information he learned when he visited the team’s training camp this summer.
“One reason the Bears are more optimistic internally about this season than people are outside their building is that new general manager Ryan Poles expects to get significant Year 1 contributions from his first draft class,” Graziano wrote, adding the draft was an immediate area of focus for the new Bears general manager:
“Poles told me in training camp that one of his first priorities when he got the job was to overhaul the organization’s scouting procedure in a way that aggressively targeted specific scheme-fit players they believed could contribute right away, and he came away from the draft believing he’d done so. The Bears might not be a contender this year, but … they could be better than you think.”
It’s a small sample size, but based on the team’s 19-10 Week 1 win against the San Francisco 49ers, the players Poles selected in the 2022 draft look like they are set to contribute in a big way.
Bears Had 4 Rookies Who Made Decent Contributions Week 1
Chicago had three rookies start on opening day against San Francisco who played every single snap in the game: safety Jaquan Brisker, cornerback Kyler Gordon and offensive lineman Braxton Jones. Fifth-round rookie defensive lineman Dominique Robinson didn’t start and played only 28 snaps, but he made the best of his time on the field.
On draft day, Poles stood out from his predecessors by trading down for more picks (he finished with 11 total selections, the most the franchise has had since 2008) and he also re-tooled the team’s scouting department.
“Any time you have more ammunition, the better, in terms of getting hits,” Poles told The Athletic in May about why he traded down so much.” That was kind of the thought process.”
It’s early, but it sure seems to have worked. On opening day, the Bears had 15 rookies on their roster, six of which were undrafted.
Among other changes Poles made to the scouting department upon his arrival include promoting scout Chris White to assistant pro scouting director, also promoting area scout Breck Ackley to assistant college scouting director. He also added Tom Bradway and Ryan Cavanaugh as area scouts and Ryan Weese as a scouting assistant.