2024 NFL Draft

How Bears identify ‘Grizzlies' in the 2024 NFL draft, and why it's important to their evaluations

Ryan Poles discussed the special label for the team's top prospects

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Bears have developed a system, and a special symbol, to help them identify their can’t-miss prospects in the draft. If a player exhibits all the traits they want, regardless of whether that player has a first-round grade or a seventh-round grade, the team puts a little Bears head icon on their tag.

“We call them the Grizzly,” GM Ryan Poles said. “The top Bear.”

When evaluating talent, especially near the top of the draft, it can be difficult to organize a big board of rankings. There are many players with excellent skillsets at various positions of need. Debating which players would help the team the most often comes down to splitting hairs. But affixing that “Grizzly” label helps the team make their decisions. If two guys each have excellent tape, and they each play a premium position, the guy who’s a “Grizzly” will get the nod over the other.

Poles shared a bit of what goes into a prospect earning the special designation.

Watch Ryan Poles' full press conference here.

“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.”

The team wants to pick a Grizzly whenever they can, especially with premium picks. So the tag could play a big role in the team’s decision with the No. 9 overall pick. If they’ve got one Grizzly left with a first-round grade when they’re on the clock, they probably stand pat and draft him. If all the Grizzlies are gone however, they could consider sliding back a few spots to recoup some extra draft capital to add a couple of Day Two Grizzlies.

“We had a good conversation with a Hall of Famer that (assistant GM) Ian (Cunningham) 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.”

The first round of the NFL draft begins Apr. 25 at 7 p.m. The Bears are practically assured to draft Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. Their decision at No. 9– and how many Grizzlies remain at that spot– remain a mystery.

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

Contact Us