Ryan Poles

Why Ryan Poles, Bears don't feel need to trade down, add more picks in 2024 draft

Ryan Poles wants to focus on adding elite talent, not having more swings at potential lottery tickets

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears will open the 2024 NFL Draft by selecting USC quarterback Caleb Williams as the No. 1 overall pick and then go back on the clock eight picks later at No. 9.

The Bears only have four total picks in the 2024 draft and have zero selections between No. 9 and No. 75. Conventional wisdom dictates that Ryan Poles will look to trade down from nine and add draft capital. But the Bears' general manager doesn't feel a pressing need to secure more picks.

The Bears' fast-improving roster -- one that should compete for a playoff spot this fall -- has Poles in a position where he doesn't feel the need to try to find extra bites at the apple.

"Things shift and change as you go along. It’s gonna be hard to make this team now. It’s gonna be really hard to make this team," Poles said Tuesday during his pre-draft availability at Halas Hall. "That doesn’t mean you don’t want more shots later. We’ll always welcome a lot of picks. But it doesn’t force you to panic about the situation we’re in right now with how many picks we have. So it fits our roster, but it also fits kind of like what we just talked about — the current status of this draft and then, moving forward, what next year looks like as well."

Watch Ryan Poles' full press conference here.

With three or four quarterbacks expected to go in the top 10, the Bears should be in an excellent position to get an elite wide receiver, pass rusher, or left tackle at No. 9.

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze has a lot of fans inside Halas Hall, but Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II and tackles Joe Alt, JC Latham, and Taliese Fuaga also impressed during the pre-draft process.

No matter how the board falls, the Bears feel confident they will get a blue player who will deliver an immediate impact to a fast-improving roster.

"They’ve got to impact the football team from a skillset standpoint, but we always are gonna look at some key things when we talk about passion for the game, coach-ability, dependability, resilience," Poles said when asked about what he's looking for in a player at No. 9. "Those things are gonna be consistent from the first overall pick to a seventh-round draft pick. We want guys that have that. We have an indicator we put on their tag. We would put a Bear head on their tag to, call them the Grizzly, the top Bear, they have those traits, so we’re always looking to hit those. And obviously, the earlier in the draft, you want to have those.

"The other thing too is we had a good conversation with a Hall of Famer that Ian knows and he says you want the guys in that first round to be the cover of your album. You want those to be where everyone can look to that player and be like, alright, what he’s made of is what we want to be a part of. So, that’s important to us."

Regarding what position the Bears might target at nine, Poles is open to any of the three premium positions the Bears need.

"The nice thing is, from the work that we’ve done, I feel pretty good about just being flexible," Poles said. "That’s why we did that project with kind of some premium positions with O-line, with D-line, receiver and all that feedback was outstanding. It gave you a real good feeling like there’s different championship-caliber teams that have built their teams in different ways. And it really solidified just those premiums positions are important. So those three are there, it matches up with this draft pretty well."

There is minimal debate about the Bears' need at wide receiver and offensive tackle.

The Bears have two elite receivers in DJ Moore and Keenan Allen but have no depth behind them. Allen is also in the final year of his contract, so finding a long-term answer at No. 2 receiver should be high on the priority list.

Braxton Jones has shown growth at left tackle, but the Bears could immediately upgrade Williams' blindside protection if they can land Alt or another top tackle.

The big debate comes on the defensive line and whether or not the priority should be at edge rusher or defensive tackle.

The Bears need to add a top-tier edge rusher opposite Montez Sweat. But they are also looking for a disruptive three-technique who can be the "engine" of head coach Matt Eberflus' defense.

While the Bears hope that 2023 second-round pick Gervon Dexter will take a leap in 2024, Poles is open to drafting another defensive tackle with a high pick.

"We’ve talked about inside and outside," Poles said. "Both are multipliers. Generally speaking, I would say the inside guy has the shortest path to the quarterback, so therefore, like if you have, we both have lived with really good elite players that are inside, and it changes everything, and it opens up a lot for other teams as well. Yeah, having that interior rush is probably a preference when you have an outside guy. It makes it really difficult to scheme up."

Poles has turned the Bears' roster over in two years. He has added elite players in DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Tremaine Edmunds, and Sweat while retaining star cornerback Jaylon Johnson and drafting potential stars in right tackle Darnell Wright, slot cornerback Kyler Gordon, and safety Jaquan Brisker.

He'll soon add a potentially "generational" quarterback in Williams and a blue player of his choosing at No. 9 should he stay put.

He should. The Bears can ace a potentially transformational draft by adding Williams and one of Odunze, Alt, Muphy, or LSU's Malik Nabers at No. 9.

That's too rare an opportunity to pass up for a few extra picks. The state of Poles' fast-improving roster has him confident that four picks is enough to deliver what the Bears need.

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