When Ryan Poles took over as general manager earlier this year, he pledged to rebuild the Chicago Bears from the ground up, and take advantage of the NFL Draft.
Gone are Allen Robinson, Andy Dalton, and Khalil Mack.
This past weekend, he made good on the promise. Despite having no first round selections, the Bears wheeled and dealed to end up with eleven picks in total, choosing defensive backs and offensive linemen to go along with a running back, wide receiver, and a punter.
Coach Matt Eberflus praised his new boss, “Being able to add all those picks was just outstanding. What stood out the most to me was the cooperation and the teamwork. If you just sat back and watched Ryan’s staff when the trades are coming in and we’re on the clock and the way they work to see if they were good trades, bad trades, and Ryan made a decision to do what he did or made a decision not to do it was just outstanding with the help he had, which is really good.”
It was great. It was very enjoyable. I really enjoyed talking to the guys once they got picked. That was really enjoyable. We had some good conversations with those guys. How exciting it is for their families. I mean, you’re changing guys’ futures and those guys have worked hard to get to this point, and, man, you could hear their families in the background sometimes, and that was a thrill really to hear that.”-Matt Eberflus on his first draft.
Poles explained the process, “So we got together as a group and went over players a while back there. Right around after the combine I think it was. So we had those conversations, and we would stack players, and Matt I would just keep funneling players and stacks of guys to Matt. Sometimes we go to different positions and say, ‘this guy versus this guy.’ We just worked through that over and over and over again. Yeah, I mean, he is a defensive guy at heart, so when we take defensive players, he is pumped about it, but he is also really excited when we take offensive players because he knows the balance that you have to have on a football team. Yeah, we’re aligned with guys at both sides of the ball.”
The Bears selected University of Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon with the 39th overall pick before taking another secondary player in Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker at number 48 overall. Chicago went for offense with the choice of wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. at pick 71 overall in the third round.
Gordon told the media, “I’m definitely going to bring a lot of energy. I want to be live and popping!”
The offensive line may be the team’s weak link, but the defensive secondary was not far behind. The Bears chose to go with two DB’s. Poles addressed that, “It really comes down to the preparation. It coming down to the board and where guys are valued, and this year where we sat to me there were two good starting level defensive players. And I would have made a huge mistake for this organization to say, you know what, let’s just leave them there, let someone else take them, and then we’re going to go to offense where they’re not on the same level. Then you’re kicking yourself a year or two later when that guy is an all pro. Yeah, I just did what I needed at the time.”
On Sunday, the Bears started with three picks, and finished the day with eight total picks – (5th round, #168) Braxton Jones , a 6-5 offensive lineman from Southern Utah State, (5th, 174) Dominique Robinson, DL, 6-5, 253 pounds, from Miami (OH)
Poles on Robinson: “This guy is long. He is flexible. He can dip, and he is fairly new to the position, but you saw the flashes. And an old mentor of mine told me when it comes to defensive players, grade the flashes. You can develop that. If you do it once, you can do it again. We all saw that, and I’m excited to see what kind of player he turns into.”
In the sixth round the Bears selected Zach Thomas art #186, 6-5 OL from San Diego State, Trestan Ebner, a 5-11, 206 pound running back from Baylor (6th, 203), and Doug Kramer, a product of Hinsdale, IL and the University of Illinois at #207, a 300 pound offensive lineman.
In the final round these were the selections.
Ja’Tyre Carter OL 6-3 311 7 226 Southern
Elijah Hicks DB 5-11 200 7 254 California
Trenton Gill P 6-4 219 7 255 North Carolina State
I can’t tell you how many times the phone rang, but it was a lot.”-Ryan Poles on draft day.
Final thoughts from Eberflus, “We’re getting closer. We’ll obviously have OTAs, and we’ll figure out more pieces to the puzzle, where guys line up and what they can do, what their skill sets are once we get going there. It’s going to be a process all the way through training camp. This was a great step in the right direction for sure.”