GM Ryan Poles Drops Big Hint on Bears’ Plans For Top Pick

Ryan Poles

Getty General manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears looks on prior to a preseason game.

When it comes to the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears are flexible — to say the least.

The opportunities abound at top of the board and general manager Ryan Poles has done his job by openly considering every possibility — from drafting a top defender to drafting a top quarterback to trading down, at least once if not twice.

However, Poles appears to have tipped his hand behind the scenes, at least to a degree, with the standard logic across NFL front offices now being that the Bears plan to multiply their top pick into several selections of value.

“Teams are keeping close tabs on the Bears, who own the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, and the prevailing theme is Poles is very high on value,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Friday, February 3. “Despite in-season trades of linebacker Roquan Smith and edge rusher Robert Quinn, Chicago has just eight picks in the draft and only one in the top 50. Poles will most likely aim to change that.”

Bears Can Draft Defensive Player of Choice Even After Trading Down

Will Anderson Jr.

GettyLinebacker Will Anderson Jr. of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during warmups before a game against the New Mexico State Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 13, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The strategy of trading back makes sense even if Chicago didn’t care about acquiring more draft picks in 2023 and beyond.

The Bears are set under center with quarterback Justin Fields, entering his third professional season in 2023 with two more years plus a team option remaining on his rookie deal. The need at quarterback at the top of the draft is more desperate than usual and this class has at least three prospects who offer realistic hope of growing into a franchise player.

Chicago can probably trade down to No. 2 with the Houston Texans or No. 4 with the Indianapolis Colts and still scoop up a premier pass rusher in Will Anderson Jr. or defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. says is the best player across all positions in this class.

The Bears could also decide to go to an even greater extreme and trade down twice. There is one fewer free agent QB in play with Tom Brady now off the board, making the chance to select a top signal-caller in 2023 even more valuable. Chicago could look to a team like the Las Vegas Raiders or the Carolina Panthers, selecting at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively, for a double trade-down — depending on what those franchises are able to accomplish in the six weeks of free agency prior to draft night.

Each top-five pick the Bears trade is conceivably worth at least one first-round draft selection in return, if not two, and then some. Poles can line the franchise’s pockets with valuable assets over the next couple of years while still drafting a game-ready starter somewhere inside of the top-10.

Bears Need Major Upgrades on O-Line, D-Line and at Wide Receiver

Justin Fields, Bears

GettyQuarterback Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears under center against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 4, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Bears should fear moving off of a top-five selection less than most NFL teams considering the amount of roster holes the franchise has to fill.

Chicago depleted its pass rush via trades over the last 12 months, which makes Anderson and Carter logical choices. Both could also prove to be generational talents at their positions.

However, if the Bears moved down to No. 7 in a double-trade scenario, they would still probably be able to draft offensive lineman Peter Skoronski out of Northwestern, widely regarded as the best tackle in the class.

On the other hand, Chicago might decide it wants a young and proven NFL player to go along with some draft capital, and could reach out to a team like the Cincinnati Bengals about wide receiver Tee Higgins, who is likely to ask for a new contract this offseason and is set to hit free agency in 2024.

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