One of the running jokes about Ryan Pace during his time as Chicago Bears general manager was the strange affinity he seemed to have for players from Georgia during the draft. This led to people saying that Pace found his next top draft choice whenever a Georgia player made a big play during a season. The truth is he isn’t the first Bears GM to have such a tendency. Several of his predecessors did something similar. Hence, it is interesting to think about where Ryan Poles may place his focus.
- Jim Finks loved players from Notre Dame (6 picks)
- Jerry Angelo loved players from Florida (6 picks)
- Phil Emery loved players from Boise State (2 pick)
- Ryan Pace loved players from Georgia (4 picks)
This isn’t easy to answer because Poles hasn’t even made a selection yet as GM. He hasn’t had enough time to offer any sort of tell about where he might have preferences. The best one can do is go off what the Kansas City Chiefs did from 2016 to 2021. The span Poles served as director of college scouting and then director of player personnel—a time when he had a significant voice in the front office.
Were there any interesting consistencies? Yes, to a degree.
In that span, the Chiefs made a total of 39 draft picks. Keep in mind this was between two different general managers in John Dorsey and Brett Veach. All told, they drafted two players each from five different programs. Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Mississippi State, and Tennesee. Not much favoritism to pull from that. It starts to separate a little bit in the pick values used on those players.
Of those five schools, Mississippi State got the heavy favoritism. Both picks were 2nd rounders, one on Chris Jones in 2016 and the other on Willie Gay Jr. in 2020. None of the other schools came close in terms of overall value. The fact those picks happened under both GMs says Poles likely played a central role in them happening. It isn’t definitive evidence but could be notable.
Ryan Poles could have some fun options from Mississippi State
The big name that would be an absolute home run for Poles is offensive tackle Charles Cross. Big, athletic, physical, and well-rounded from a technical standpoint. He is everything this team could want in a long-term left tackle. Unfortunately, expectations are he’ll land in the top half of the 1st round. There are other options though, both at positions of need for the Bears.
Mississippi State CB Martin Emerson (@MartyMargg1) is an elite zone cornerback. He has great size at 6’2” and really good length. High football IQ and is a very patient player. Teams like Alabama never threw to his side of the field. 1st round upside. #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/zhtc9UEWfq
— Jack Borowsky (@Jack_Borowsky) April 14, 2021
Cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. is the more prominent of the two. He’s 6’2 with length and athletic ability. Nobody questions his toughness. Few corners loved to play more physical than him, and he had one of the best coverage ratings in the SEC over the past two seasons. His lack of interceptions will likely drop him to the second day of the draft.
Then there is Makai Polk.
Don’t bother looking for much draft buzz about him. It isn’t there. Even so, the young receiver made the most of his only season at Mississippi State after transferring from California with 1,046 yards and nine touchdowns. A school record. Polk is 6’3, premium size for an NFL receiver, and has enough speed to make defenses nervous. He also isn’t afraid to take a hit. His three best games of the year were all on the road.
Makai Polk : 8 catches for 61 yards & 2 TD's (79 catches for 781 yards & 8 TD's this season) pic.twitter.com/5oJJJwq9qS
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) November 13, 2021
Again, this is all speculation. Ryan Poles may have a favorite school he never really had a chance to draft from during his time in Kansas City. This is another part of what makes the entire process exciting. People will get to see how the young GM thinks. Where he feels the best talent can be found. Maybe even that first pick in April will offer a clue.