INDIANAPOLIS – Ryan Poles will have his fingerprints all over this upcoming draft when it’s all said and done.
The second-year Bears general manager has the No. 1 overall pick and it appears to be for the taking if a team offers the right trade package. To get better insight on all the different scenarios and options going through Poles’ mind, CHGO Bears sat down with Poles for an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Here are the top five takeaways from the interview.
Bears want to surround Fields with talent
Since Fields entered the league in 2021, he has faced plenty of obstacles. One of the most prominent being the lack of quality players to help the Bears’ quarterback on offense. As a consequence, Fields has been incapable of showing what he could be as a complete quarterback.
Poles knows this, but now he is in a position to give Fields some much-needed help.
“Yeah, that’s always in your mind. We’re really … We focus on player development a lot,” Poles said. “So who you are today shouldn’t be who you are tomorrow. So we want to pour into Justin (Fields) and allow him to be the absolute best version of himself. So there is are part that he has to take care of. There is a part that we need to take care of as a coaching staff to develop and then as a front office to put talent around him and continue to add talent around him so that he can be successful. So we want to see that process through.”
What could Fields do with a true No. 1 receiver? How about an offensive line that will give him time to go through his reads? Those are questions that weren’t answered in Fields first two years in the NFL.
In the next few months, Poles can finally ‘pour’ into Fields to see his full potential.
Poles still needs to look into rookie quarterbacks
Poles has made it apparent that if he didn’t look into the 2023 quarterback draft class that he wouldn’t be doing his due diligence as a general manager. He’s right. Poles needs to be honest with himself — even though he does have a talented quarterback like Fields currently on the roster.
“Again, I always say this in this situation, we just need to feel comfortable with this class that it could be good,” Poles said. “But are we really comfortable from moving on from him (Justin Fields). But at this point, and we still have to go through that group, that would be no right now, but we got to meet with all these players and sit down and have those conversations.”
Those conversations will allow Poles and his staff to get to know the person and give them an opportunity to further evaluate these quarterbacks.
Probably too soon to get deal done
On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on ESPN 1000 that the Bears would be willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick this week if the price was right.
That would make for an even more entertaining week, but it doesn’t sound too much a possibility.
“I think it’s a little bit too soon, but it won’t be too far after if it does happen that way,” Poles said. “You know I think the big thing to understand is, and I talked about it earlier today, is the way we set values, you know, for players and where they fit based on what they do and how they would impact our team. So we want to set that up, but you really don’t know until you get after the combine because there is a medical component too.”
Even though Poles may not make any big headlines this week, it doesn’t sound like it will be a long wait until he does make a decision.
Keeping home-grown talent
With the No. 1 overall pick and the most cap space in the NFL, Poles has a lot on his plate to think about over the next two months.
What can’t be forgotten, though, are the few core players the Bears currently have and the potential to offer contract extensions. This goes for Jaylon Johnson, Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney.
“Yeah, that is part of our philosophy is to retain home-grown talent,” Poles said. “When and how that happens, you know, we’ll work through that this week and when we get back. But that is a belief of ours is we want to keep as many guys homegrown because we know everything about them. We know their strengths, weaknesses, where they need to go physically, mentally. So I’m excited, you know, when we do have the opportunity to bring some of those guys back. I think we wil be better because of it.”
Happy for Roquan Smith
A day after Poles end of the season press conference, Roquan Smith got his new contract that he was longing to acquire from the Bears. The Ravens signed Smith to a 5-year, $100 million deal – which made Smith the highest-paid off-ball linebacker.
Even though Poles and Smith couldn’t work things out in Chicago, the general manager is still comfortable with how things ended and still enjoys seeing Smith succeed.
“I’m happy for him,” Poles said. “Was it a $100 million that deal 20 APY. So I’m fired up for him. I think it worked out for everybody.”
Smith went to social media to demand his trade quest in August. That didn’t bother Poles and had no impact on his overall decision. He mentioned he doesn’t get emotional but instead stays “level headed” and lets the tape and value system lead him in the direction that is best for the Bears.