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Ryan Poles stuck to his board, his philosophy, his plan on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Bears’ first-year general manager took Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon with his first pick in the draft on Friday. He added another playmaker in the secondary by selecting Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker. And he ended Day 2 by adding Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones jr.
Poles shared how the rookies fit what the Bears are trying to create from a culture standpoint.
“They enhance it. They enhance it. They’re passionate about football. They’re tough. They’re team-oriented. They communicate really well. They’re responsible, dependable,” Poles said. “All of those things that we’ve talked about, that we look for. We just want to keep adding so the locker room gets better, the field gets better, the practice habits get better, competition gets better, and I feel like we hit all of those parts with these guys.”
With the Bears heading into the final day of the draft, it will be up to Poles and the rest of the coaching staff to try and find more players that fit their culture while also rounding out the last parts of the roster.
Here are five players the Bears should target:
1. DT Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma
After two days, Winfrey is somehow still on the board. The former 3-tech for the Oklahoma Sooners finished last season with 23 total tackles (11 for loss), 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 11 games. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman wins with his explosive first step off the line of scrimmage.
The Bears could add more depth to their front seven and add a young player to play in a rotation with Justin Jones – who signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the team this offseason.
2. WR Calvin Austin III, Memphis
The Bears may have selected Velus Jones Jr. with their last pick on Day 2 of the draft, but double dipping at the position would help stack the playmakers for Justin Fields.
Austin caught 74 passes for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns last season. And he ended his collegiate career with a good showing throughout the week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Even though Austin is undersized at 5-foot-7, 170 pounds, he does make up for that in speed. The former Tiger ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
3. WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
If you are the Bears, you can never take too many swings at the wide receiver position. Shakir is someone that Adam Hoge and I profiled in our “Making The Case” video series.
The 5-foot-11, 196-pound wide receiver finished his senior season with 77 receptions for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns. Not only did Shakir lead his team in receiving yards but he was also a team captain for the Broncos.
As it currently stands, the Bears have three picks remaining in the draft. If Shakir is somehow still available when the Bears pick next at No. 148, it would make a lot of sense to double dip at the wide receiver position.
4. OL Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
The Bears have yet to address their offensive line through two days of the draft. Yet, there is still a vacancy at the right guard position and the tackle positions are currently occupied by players going into just their second season in Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.
Kinnard was a three-year starter at Kentucky and played primarily at the right tackle position. At 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, Kinnard does play with physicality and the demeanor that Poles is looking for in his offensive linemen.
A reason Kinnard may still be available is because teams are deciding whether or not he will still play at tackle in the NFL. The Bears could take Kinnard and move him inside to their right guard position if they feel it’s a better fit for him moving forward.
5. P Matt Araiza, San Diego State
Alright, I’ll finally get on the “Punt God” bandwagon.
The Bears currently have picks 148, 150 and 186. If Araiza is still available when the Bears are on the clock with their last pick, why not take a punter who averaged 51.2 yards per punt attempt, which was a NCAA single-season record.
Even though the Bears are putting a lot of faith in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, there is a good chance the offense will still have difficulties next season, especially early on. Araiza can swap the field position and allow the revamped Bears defense to play the field position game.
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