Thursday, April 18, 2024

Future Draft Flexibility Is Ryan Poles’ Best Long-Term Asset


The NFL Scouting Combine is less than a week away, as the Chicago Bears, led by general manager Ryan Poles, continue to map out their plans for the current offseason. There are multiple rumors surrounding the team when it comes to their plans for the 2024 NFL Draft, as they hold the first and ninth overall selections. Although Poles has a chance to select several potential generational talents with Chicago’s picks, he must also value the high chance of acquiring future first-round selections via tradebacks.

Bears Have The Potential To Trade Back Multiple Times And Still Get The Prospects They Desire

Two of the most significant storylines surrounding Chicago at the moment are tied to the quarterback position. The first is tied to the current starting quarterback, Justin Fields, who is expected to be traded in the next few weeks to a team in need of a starting signal-caller, that doesn’t have the draft resources to do so. Additionally, there are questions about who Poles and his front office will draft at the quarterback position with the first overall selection.

Most draft analysts believe that Chicago will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams first overall, as many pundits see him as the best passing prospect to enter the draft since Patrick Mahomes. It’s because of the potential talent that the same analysts believe that the Bears can get a massive haul of draft picks, along with a proven veteran player, if they trade back with another team. Several prominent NFL insiders believe Chicago could get multiple future first-round selections even if they trade back one spot with the Washington Commanders.

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Likewise, with Fields, there are rumors that because of the number of teams interested in trading for the third-year quarterback, the Bears could receive a first-round pick in return if a bidding war ensues. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons are two franchises that have shown sizeable interest in acquiring Chicago’s current signal-caller. If Poles can obtain a first-round selection for fields, it would give his team three picks in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Holding the first, ninth, and potentially an additional selection in the first round of the draft, the amount of flexibility Poles would have would be historic. Chicago’s general manager could choose two players who are potentially the best at their position and still utilize the third pick to trade back to acquire more picks in 2024 or for future drafts. This, in turn, would give the Bears a chance to have multiple first-round selections in consecutive years.

Poles and the Bears are currently without a second-round pick, which is why a potential Fields trade becomes extremely vital over the next few weeks. Chicago could move their quarterback for a second or a first, giving the team one more high-level pick in April’s draft. Getting a second in return for Fields, who enable the Bears to not be forced to trade back off of one of their first-round selections if the player they absolutely can’t pass up is still on the board when they are on the clock.

Having three first-round picks could set the Bears’ franchise up for draft success for several years. For example, if Chicago trades back from one of their first-rounder picks, they would likely have two selections next year, allowing them to trade back again, continually picking up selections for the draft the following year. The level of flexibility would be invaluable as a talent roster can not only be built but sustained for years to come despite salary cap restrictions.

The League Is Filled With Teams In Dire Situation Due To Poor Draft Flexibility

Having draft flexibility and deep stock is something that gives Poles an advantage over other NFL general managers, given the current state of other teams. Some franchises are in a terrible position due to being extensively over the salary cap limit, and others do not have draft selections to help rebuild their roster due to trading selections away. Over the past two years, Poles has worked extensively to put the Bears in a position where they have valuable resources related to salary cap space and draft selections.

The reason why Chicago has the first overall selection is due to trading the first overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers, who were the worst team in the NFL in 2024. Carolina is in a terrible situation as they can’t build around second-year quarterback, Bryce Young, as they are without their first-round pick in 2024 and their second-round pick in 2025. The Panthers will have a difficult time providing Young with top-level talent despite having several prominent positional needs on offense.

On the other end of the spectrum, the San Francisco 49ers are in a dire situation from a salary cap standpoint, as they will be forced to trade or release several talented players to get underneath the salary cap. Having to unload talent hurts even more for the 49ers as they have been without a first-round selection the last two seasons due to trading up for Trey Lance in 2021 and will select 31st this year. Having high-level picks helps offset the loss of veteran players or allows a team to still stay healthy from a salary cap standpoint by not having to sign talent to costly contract extensions.

The Panthers and the 49ers demonstrate how a bad team and a great team can be in dire situations due to not having draft flexibility. Although fans and the media are focused on who the Bears take first overall, there should be a focus on whether or not a trade back to acquire a future first-round selection is possible due to the flexibility it would provide the franchise for the next several years. If the best possible outcome unfolds over the next few months, Poles could go down as one of the best general managers in Chicago sports history.


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Feb 21, 2024 2:04 pm

I agree with the concept of future draft flexibility. But going through the process outlined: trading Fields, drafting quarterback. The Bears, writers and fans can still screw this up pretty badly. Trading Fields, without absolute certain knowledge that they have a decent (not even “generational franchise” quarterback) is gambling the next 5 years or decade, on everything turning out “just the way they hoped (or prayed, or planned). Whomever they draft (presuming they draft a quarterback) can turn out great. But “great” is still only Trevor Lawrence today. “Good” can turn out like Justin Fields today. Any of these quarterbacks… Read more »

Feb 21, 2024 10:24 am

Chicago Bears Fantasy GM: Washington receives #1 overall pick. Chicago Bears receive #2 overall pick 2nd Rd pick, 1st²⁵,3rd²⁵ & Jonathan Allen then Chicago trades with the Giants. NY receives #2 pick Chicago receives #6, 2nd, 1st²⁵,2nd²⁵ &
Kayvon Thibodaux. In total Chicago trade acquisitions Pick #6, 2nd, 2nd, 1st²⁵, 1st²⁵, 2nd²⁵,3rd²⁵,Jonathan Allen DT & Kayvon Thibodaux DE

Feb 21, 2024 9:31 am

Simple plan: trade down to 3, get extra picks, take Daniels at 3 and sit him behind Fields for a year. Use extra picks to build team. Most likely NE will still suck next year and the first round pick you get from them will be very high…this way you get best of both worlds. Top QB prospect and extra picks. BTW…Daniels won the Heisman last year not CW. Guy has gotten better each year he has played. CW regressed last season.

Feb 21, 2024 9:19 am

@ tgena…go somewhere else where they enjoy your ignorance. Maybe packers site. Cheeseheads might think you’re funny.

Feb 21, 2024 8:39 am

In any pro sport with a salary cap the franchises that dominate do it with superior scouting and coaching. It gives them the advantage in finding hidden gems and having the time and patience to see they reach their full potential.
Moral of the story….never trade your picks unless it’s for more picks.

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