Ryan Poles understood the angst of Chicago Bears fans going into the 2022 draft. Justin Fields needed help. That often comes in the form of quality weapons. With Darnell Mooney his only proven option on the roster, it made sense in the minds of everybody that Poles would grab a receiver with one of his two 2nd round picks last month. Needless to say, there was plenty of surprise when that didn’t happen. Instead, the GM waited until the 3rd round before grabbing Velus Jones out of Tennessee.
Poles explained after the draft that his decision-making was simple. In his mind, the board didn’t reflect the necessary value to take a receiver in the 2nd round. Not compared to the two players Chicago did select in cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker. He wasn’t going to reach at another position just because of need. The GM’s job was to get the best players possible onto the roster. There would be opportunities to help Fields down the line.
That still leaves some unresolved questions.
The most interesting is which receivers Poles would’ve taken had they been available when the Bears picked. Some clarity came on that front courtesy of Jeff Hughes from Da Bears Blog. From what he heard, Chicago had five receivers with high grades on their board going into the draft. Sure enough, all five were selected before the end of the 1st round. After that, nobody else at the position came close.
“The truth is that while many were calling this draft deep at wide receiver, the Bears (and several other clubs) didn’t particularly agree with that assessment. They rated Wilson, Williams, and Olave highly, the latter being their top player at the position. They liked the polish of Dotson and thought Burks might have the highest upside in the class. But they knew they were not in play for any of those players, and saw the gap between that group and the next group as cavernous.”
It isn’t a huge shock Olave and Burks were atop their board. Fields played two years with Olave at Ohio State, and they formed a devastating combination. Reuniting them in Chicago would’ve been the easiest decision in the world. As for Burks, his strengths as a receiver might remind many of 49ers star Deebo Samuel with his after-the-catch skills and unique versatility. That was a big reason the Bears eventually went for Jones.
Ryan Poles has no regrets about his approach.
He feels confident the Bears added two immediate starters for the defense in Gordon and Brisker. At the same time, Jones will be a factor on offense from the start, even if he doesn’t play the role of a traditional receiver. His ability to take short passes or even hand-offs for long gains was a staple at Tennessee. It is almost certain to be something offensive coordinator Luke Getsy looks to exploit in his offense this season.
The truth is Ryan Poles has his eyes on the long view. He knew there was no way he could rebuild the Bears’ roster in one off-season. Not with little spending money and only five draft picks. This process was always going to take time, and it was inevitable that certain position groups would have to suffer. That wide receiver was one of them is due to unfortunate circumstances.
Namely no 1st round pick and not enough cash to throw around.
It is still possible the Bears might find a way to fortify the position before the season begins. Crazy things happen all the time. Still, it looks like the team will rely on a run-first approach on offense combined with a quick passing attack to protect Fields as best they can. Then in 2023 when they have far more resources to work with, they’ll go hunting for more firepower.