Ryan Poles says trading the No. 1 pick could be an ideal scenario, but the Chicago Bears will ‘investigate everything’ – Boston Herald


As Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles wrapped up a Tuesday morning news conference in a JW Marriott hallway, he described what lay ahead for him during a hectic NFL combine week as “a bit of a dream.”

The Bears own the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, leaving Poles with a wealth of possibilities to better his team. This week is all about collecting information to zero in on the best option through prospect interviews, on-field tests and conversations with other teams that might send a considerable haul to the Bears to acquire the top pick.

Poles said he’s trying to stay level through it all as the Bears embark on a huge couple of months.

“We have flexibility,” he said. “We have opportunity. We can gather all of that information, and I know our entire front office, our entire organization is pumped with the opportunity that we have to do something special.”

Poles agreed the ideal outcome in the weeks ahead for a Bears team that went 3-14 last season might be to trade the No. 1 pick to a quarterback-hungry team that falls in love with a top prospect such as Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis or Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

That would allow the Bears to acquire more picks, add more players to a thin roster — and still potentially add a game-changing player in the first round, perhaps on the defensive or offensive lines, where the Bears have major needs.

But Poles stopped short of saying that’s definitely how he expects it to play out, noting an elite player could change the Bears’ mind.

“We need a lot, and (trading the pick) gives us more opportunity to bring in more players,” Poles said. “It’s a good situation to be in for where our club is.

“But at the same time, when I talk about where guys are on the draft chart, if we have someone that is so high and in a special category that says, you know what, this guy is going to affect our team both from a culture standpoint and also from a gameday standpoint, then that might be the best thing to do as well.

“But in a vacuum, moving back gives you more opportunities to hit more players and continue to add to the core of this team.”

Poles reiterated his statement from January that the plan is for quarterback Justin Fields to be the starter in 2023. He again said he would have to be “blown away” to select a quarterback with the top pick. But he and his staff will do thorough evaluations of the top quarterbacks to be certain they are making the right move.

Poles said he is communicating with Fields along the way about what the Bears are doing — and why — through all of the “noise” circulating on social media. Poles added he hasn’t fielded an offer from a team looking to acquire Fields in a trade.

“I’m excited about where (Fields’) game is going to go, but at the same time when you sit in our situation at (No.) 1 overall, you have to do your due diligence,” Poles said. “You have to investigate everything. You have to spend time with those guys just to make sure we’re making the right decision.”

Coach Matt Eberflus said his staff has been spending its mornings focused on football and its afternoons focused on scouting, first on potential free-agent fits and most recently on draft prospects.

Combine week is an opportunity for Poles, Eberflus and their staffs to sit down with the quarterbacks and other top prospects and get to know what makes them tick. Eberflus said coaches can get a feel for players’ leadership skills, intelligence and ability to think on their feet during the sessions. And Poles said running through film with the quarterbacks is valuable.

“You can really see how they process,” Poles said. “They can tell you why they are doing the concepts. Everyone is taught differently. All the schemes are different. That gives you a little bit of guidance of how much they know about ball and where their ceiling is.”

So what would Poles have to see from Young, Stroud, Levis or Richardson to be “blown away?”

“When you watch it over and over and over and go, ‘Wow, this is different,’” Poles said. “But it’s a collection of anticipation, arm talent, arm strength and accuracy. It’s all of the categories that you look for in a quarterback.

“It’s the person. You need to be a unique human being to play this position in this league with this pressure. And just to be able to keep coming game after game after game and also critique yourself and get better year after year. It’s a huge checklist, but we will go down that and make sure we are doing the right thing.”

If a trade is indeed the route the Bears go, Poles said he should have more direction about when that might occur once combine week is over. He said doing it before free agency starts March 15 could benefit the Bears in certain scenarios, especially if acquiring players from the other team is involved.

“This whole combine event is about collecting information because we’ve still got to get back, we’ve got to put our draft board together, tighten that up from the information that we get here,” Poles said. “And that’s really going to start to allow us to play the numbers game to see what’s possible, what makes sense for us.”


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