At the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, Ryan Poles said the Bears would use the second and third waves of free agency to address many of the holes on the team.
The first-year Bears’ general manger has stayed true to his word, especially after his first free agent signing, Larry Ogunjobi, fell through due to a failed physical.
Poles has addressed some of his team’s needs, but has done so by signing former undrafted free agents who still have plenty to prove in the league: linebacker Nicholas Morrow, offensive lineman Lucas Patrick, wide receiver Bryon Pringle and fullback Khari Blasingame.
At this point, with most of the top players at each respective position no longer available, it’s unlikely the Bears will make a splash signing.
So that leaves the next big event on the calendar — the NFL Draft.
The first night, which the Bears will not be participating in unless they move up, will take place on April 28.
Poles spent 13 years with the Kansas City Chiefs, starting as the team’s player personnel assistant in 2009 and finishing as the executive director of player personnel in 2021. In those 13 seasons, he worked and learned under three different general managers: Scott Pioli, John Dorsey and Brett Veach.
Pioli, Dorsey and Veach each had their own unique upbringing to becoming a general manager, which influenced their philosophies on how they approached the draft. Poles witnessed those approaches up close, and now the 36-year-old general manager will get his first opportunity as the man calling the shots.
The Bears currently have six draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here’s how they break down:
- Round 2, Picks 39 and 48 (Trade from Chargers for Khalil Mack)
- Round 3, Pick 71
- Round 5, Picks 147 and 149
- Round 6, Pick 184
To get a better understanding as to how Poles may potentially attack the draft, here is a look at all the Chiefs’ draft picks from 2009.
Waiting to draft wide receivers
The Bears have major holes throughout their roster, but this draft should focus on trying to add playmakers for quarterback Justin Fields. A good place to start would be with adding to the wide receiver position. Even though the Bears added Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown, the team would be wise to double dip in the draft.
But if Poles follows his mentors’ footsteps in Kansas City, he might not address the position until later in the draft. Since 2009, in Rounds 2 and 3, the Chiefs have only selected three receivers out of 30 picks on Day 2 of the draft. However, two of the 13 picks in the second round have been receivers: Mecole Hardman in 2019 and Dexter McCluster in 2010. The Chiefs selected Chris Conley in the third round in 2015.
Now, just because the Chiefs haven’t drafted many receivers high that doesn’t mean Poles will do the same with the Bears. The wide receiver room currently features Darnell Mooney, Dazz Newsome, Nsimba Webster, Isaiah Coulter, Pringle and St. Brown. Fields needs weapons and Poles know this. Unlike the Chiefs’ general managers, Poles should highly consider adding a playmaking wide receiver high in the draft.
Beefing up O-line on Day 2
Another position group that still has question marks is the offensive line. The Bears, so far, have focused on addressing the interior O-line. Patrick will be the center, and on Thursday, Bills restricted free agent guard Ryan Bates signed his offer sheet with the Bears, but Buffalo does has five days to match the contract. If the Bills do match the offer, then guard is still a need for Chicago.
There is also uncertainty with tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. Will they be playing at the same positions they ended with in the 2021 season?
The draft could provide some clarification to some of those questions. Since 2009, the Chiefs have taken four offensive linemen in Round 2, with Creed Humphrey being the latest one at No. 63 in 2021.
In Round 3, the Chiefs have drafted three offensive linemen. The team’s first pick in round three last season was tackle Lucas Niang, which was the first time the organization took an offensive lineman in the round since 2012 — tackle Donald Stephenson.
Other than Round 2, the Bears have multiple picks in the fifth round. Of course, this could change come draft time.
The Chiefs have had 16 picks in Round 5, and there was a three-way tie with three picks each for linebackers, defensive backs and quarterbacks. Since Poles arrived in 2009, Kansas City has drafted only four quarterbacks, which is one less than the Bears in that time frame.
(In case you were wondering, here are the five Bears quarterbacks drafted in the last 13 years: Fields, Mitchell Trubisky (2017), David Fales (2014), Nathan Enderle (2011) and Dan LeFevour (2010).)
Currently, Fields and Nick Foles are the two quarterbacks under contract for 2022. Former Bears general manager Ryan Pace drafted one quarterback in his seven seasons with Chicago. If Poles decides to select a quarterback — which will be contingent on what happens with Foles — the fifth round could be the spot to take a chance on one.
- 94 Total Picks Since 2009
- 19 Defensive Backs
- 18 Defensive Linemen
- 15 Offensive Linemen
- 13 Wide Receivers
- 10 Linebackers
- 8 Running Backs
- 5 Tight Ends
- 4 Quarterbacks
- 1 Full Back
- 1 Kicker
- The Chiefs have had six total draft picks six times since 2009, with the last five drafts having six picks.
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