2024 NFL Draft

Ryan Poles' reaction to Falcons drafting Michael Penix Jr. was priceless

Thank you, Falcons

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I don't think anyone predicted the Falcons taking Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft --- not long after signing Kirk Cousins to a nearly $200 million contract.

But spectators weren't the only ones in that camp. Ryan Poles didn't expect that, either.

"No," Poles said if he expected the Falcons to take Penix Jr. "I'm just happy it worked out that way," he said with a smile.

That got a good laugh out of the press room.

In reality, Poles was gripping his seat, hoping Rome Odunze would fall to them with the No. 9 pick. When did Poles and the Bears feel confident he would fall to them at the No. 9 pick?

"Once we got to like No. 7 we started feeling pretty good that he might make it," Poles said.

Needless to say, once that No. 8 card was submitted, the Bears had Odunze in their hands. But that wasn't before Poles felt the pressure, skeptical of his chances of Odunze falling to the Bears at the No. 9 pick.

Poles mentioned his right-hand man, Ian Cunningham, had to hold him back from trying to trade up.

"Ian and I sequenced a board all the way across and Rome was extremely high on that list," Poles said. "That's why I was nervous that he wasn't gonna be there at No. 9. Our simulations, it was about a 50-50 shot if he was going to be there. But as it started to unfold, Ian had to hold me back from not trying to trade up and do something crazy to get him. But it ended up working out really well."

Poles covets Odunze as a person and a wide receiver. He admires his "work ethic" and "blue-collar way" of going about his business on the football field. Odunze fits well as a big-bodied, deep threat alongside DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, known more for their all-around abilities and route running.

Odunze, after arriving in Chicago from Detroit on Friday, mentioned his appreciation of Poles' nerves to secure him in the draft.

"I'm happy he had that, you know, sweat to come get me," Odunze said of Poles. "You always want to be somewhere where you're wanted, right? I want to be here, they want me to be here. I think that's a good connection to have."

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