One of the biggest misconceptions about Ryan Poles’ first NFL Draft is that he didn’t draft for need.
If the Bears didn’t have Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker starting at cornerback and safety last year, who would have been the starters at those positions? Both players were inserted into the starting lineup on their first day. While 2022 third-round pick Velus Jones Jr. never met expectations, there’s no question that wide receiver was also a need. So was the team’s fourth pick, offensive tackle Braxton Jones.
Ryan Poles can talk about taking the best player available all he wants but, looking back, it’s obvious the Bears saw clear needs and used the draft to attempt to fill them.
The confusion regarding those first two picks is a result of perception. Entering the 2022 draft, Bears fans were mostly excited about Thomas Graham Jr. at cornerback and the team had signed veteran slot corner Tavon Young. The team clearly saw it differently as neither Young nor Graham played a snap for the Poles/Matt Eberflus Bears.
So, what does that mean for this year? The Bears will draft for need, but it might not necessarily be the need we’re looking at. At least, not right away.
The public perception is that the team’s biggest need – offensive tackle – will fit nicely with the best players available when they’re picking. But we have no real way of knowing how the Bears view the offensive tackle class. It’s also possible that the Bears think the offensive line scouting talents of Poles and AGM Ian Cunningham will help them uncover some diamonds in the rough later, allowing them to focus on other positions early.