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NFL Combine Notebook: What the Houston Texans and other teams are saying about the Chicago Bears' No. 1 pick

Will DeWitt Avatar
February 28, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Scouting Combine is a prime opportunity for coaches, general managers, scouts and other front-office personnel to gather as much information as possible to help shape their offseason. 

With Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears leaning towards trading the first overall pick, there are a plethora of options at their disposal. 

What teams may be interested in swapping picks with the Bears? 

I had the opportunity to walk between a handful of podium interviews on Tuesday.

Here’s what I heard from some key figures around the league who could have an impact on the Bears’ plans. 

Nick Caserio, Texans GM 

Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • The team decided that the new staff — other than HC DeMeco Ryans — is staying back in Houston to continue building their scheme.
  • He admits he knows the Texans will add more to the quarterback position and mentioned it could be in the draft and/or free agency. But their goal is to build an entire team. Caserio went on to say that it’s not just about one player. It’s about building a team. 
  • When asked about this year’s draft class, he said there are a number of “good” quarterbacks in this draft that can help teams. He didn’t share what traits are most important to him, but did explain that the challenge is to build the offense around the quarterback. Caserio pointed to Philadelphia as a good example of building an offense around a player for the work they’ve done with Jalen Hurts.
  • When asked again about quarterbacks in the draft, he said it’s not one size fits all. It’s about what you value. Then it’s up to the team to set the player up to perform. And not to ask the quarterback to do things he’s not suited for. 
  • On the possibility of the Bears trading with a quarterback-needy team that can jump the Texans: Caserio said they can’t control it and must focus on themselves and the pick they have. Said they’ll have a group of players that they’d feel comfortable taking with the second pick and if one of them is selected before they’re on the clock, they’ll still have other options to feel good about.

Analysis: It feels like a strange decision to keep the new coaching staff back in Texas to work on schematics when they have a chance to speak to these prospects one-on-one. It makes sense that Caserio was very non-commital to the quarterback class and decided not to mention a single one of them by name. Lying season is in full effect, too. The comments about being comfortable with another team jumping them in the draft felt very much like “front office speak.” But hey, thanks for tempting the rest of the league to give Bears GM Ryan Poles a phone call.

Josh McDaniels, Raiders HC

Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Raiders, who currently own the seventh pick, will look at everything in terms of addressing the quarterback position after releasing Derek Carr with the goal of bringing in a young player at the position that will be a Raider for a long time. 
  • McDaniels mentioned that he is excited to sit down with a good chunk of the quarterbacks in this draft throughout the week. He adds that he is looking for a leader at the position.
  • He went on to say that the requirements for the QB are changing. There’s no “one size fits all.”

Analysis: McDaniels made it felt that he desires a young quarterback to build around. With speculation surrounding the Raiders potentially bringing in a veteran in free agency, this window remaining open is something worth keeping an eye on.

Terry Fontenot, Falcons GM

Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Falcons are keeping “all options open” for a quarterback after releasing Marcus Mariota. Fontenot said this “could be at the eighth pick, or somewhere else in the draft.”
  • He reiterated that he doesn’t want to put them in a box when it comes to making the decision. No matter what, it was clear that Atlanta wants to add to the room. 
  • Like the Bears, the Falcons have a ton of cap space at their disposal this offseason. Fontenot is wanting to be cautious in free agency and to avoid reckless spending.  He went on to say it’s all about the right kind of people that possess the right intangibles.
  • Another tidbit that mirrors what is ahead of the Bears: Fontenot said that there’s a reason a team could have a lot of cap space … “It means you have a lot of work to do.”

Analysis: The Falcons are another team that could shake up the NFL Draft if they make a strong push for one of the quarterbacks. It genuinely felt like all options are open for Atlanta, and free agency could have an impact on whether or not they make a big-time move. Also, the nuggets regarding their approach to free agency and that there’s a lot of work to be done are a great perspective on the type of offseason that is in store for the Bears, too.

Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo‐Mensah speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Vikings GM 

  • Adofo-Mensah said that this offseason is not just about who they bring in — it’s also about reshaping their vision of who the Vikings are and how they need to become more competitive.
  • He went on to praise the team’s new defensive coordinator, Brian Flores. He is excited about how he can build the defense. Lauded his ability to scheme a defense, develop players and make the right personnel decisions. 

Analysis: It’s always wise to keep your ears open when the general manager of a division rival is speaking. Even though I didn’t catch a ton, it was hard not to believe Adofo-Mensah when he spoke about Flores and his ability to not only develop their current players but also the fact that he will be a big help when making decisions as to who the Vikings bring in. Minnesota stressing the importance of retooling its defense should be something Bears Fans keep tabs on as Chicago spends the offseason trying to set up their offense to take leaps forward.

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