While fans debate which wide receiver the Chicago Bears should draft, the trench guys running the team just could go in a different direction. Matt Eberflus indicated as much in his interview with Cris Collinsworth, released last week:
“Ryan (Poles) and I are really clear on our vision for the football team,” Eberflus said. “He’s an ex-offensive lineman so we believe in the line play, we think that it starts up front and we believe in that. We believe in the physical punch that it takes from the offensive line running off the ball and same thing on defense. So that’s going to be a very important part to us in terms of determining who we are, what our identity is as a football team.”
It could be pre-draft manipulation, but that doesn’t really seem to be the new coach’s style. It seems more likely than not they’re going to beef up the offensive and defensive lines.
As Eberflus said, Poles is a former offensive lineman. Have you ever heard of a former offensive lineman who doesn’t think building up the offensive line is one of the two most important factors in having a successful offense? Flus was a linebacker. How many linebackers gush about the importance wide receiver play? These are trench guys and you can bet that they won’t tolerate fielding a team that is weak at the line of scrimmage.
And both have connections to Chris Ballard, who has drafted lineman or linebackers with 24 of the 45 picks he has made since taking over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Bears need another wide receiver and will surely draft at least one, but it seems likely that they’re going to emphasize building at the line of scrimmage first. While receiver is an immediate need, Flus and Poles have both made it known — through their words and actions — the immediate needs aren’t necessarily the most important.
“We’re going to do what is best for the football team this year, but also in the future. Make sure we’re setting ourselves up, you know, the right way,” Flus told Collinsworth. “We have a young quarterback, we have a young offense, we got a lot of young pieces on our football team and we want to make sure we’re doing it right not only for this year to win a lot of football games and to take the team as far as we can and all the way, but also into the future so we have sustained success going into next year and the year after that.”
In an ideal world the Bears would be able to trade back and acquire at least one — if not two — more picks on Day Two or early on Day Three of the draft. That way they could fill both the needs at wide receiver and in the trenches. But if they can’t, look for them to prioritize trench players.
Tyler Smith of Tulsa is a popular option for the Bears given his raw talent, and reportedly nasty demeanor. Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green is another option early in the second round, as is Washington State’s Abraham Lucas Third round options could include Darin Kinnard of Kentucky or Cole Strange of Chattanooga.
The team also figures to be at a sweet spot for potential interior defensive linemen. Houston’s Logan Hall, UConn’s Travis Jones would be strong picks with either of the second-round selections. Oklahoma’s Perrion Winfrey or Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal also figure to be in the mix either early in the second round or after a trade back.
Poles and Eberflus are both trench guys. You can expect that their first priority is to make what they love a strength of the team they’re leading.