Ryan Poles: It would have been ‘huge mistake’ to draft WR in Round 2
A week before conducting his first draft as Bears general manager, Ryan Poles had a meeting with the most important player in his building: quarterback Justin Fields. The two watched tape of potential draft picks together during the weekend of April 23.
A week before his first draft as the Bears’ general manager, Ryan Poles had a meeting with the most important player at Halas Hall: quarterback Justin Fields.
The two watched tape of potential draft picks together during the weekend of April 23-24.
‘‘I want to be able to communicate with my quarterback, so he understands from me kind of the direction we are going in and what we are looking at,’’ Poles said late Friday. ‘‘He’s the trigger man — like, he has the ball in his hands. He should be a part of that.’’
In the modern NFL, he absolutely must be. It’s a credit to Poles that he’s embracing that idea.
But if Fields offered input on the top receivers in the draft, it didn’t matter much in the end. The six best ones were gone among the first 18 picks of the first round, and the Bears didn’t pick until the seventh pick of the second. One more receiver — North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, to the Packers — went before Poles drafted Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon with the No. 39 pick. By the time Poles took Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker nine picks later, Alabama’s John Metchie III and Kentucky’s Wan’Dale Robinson were gone.
Poles passed on Georgia’s George Pickens, Baylor’s Tyquan Thornton, Cincinnati’s Alec Pierce and Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore twice in the second round Friday. They were drafted before the start of the third round.
Poles remained unapologetic Saturday. He never was going to draft a receiver, be it Friday or Saturday, just to say he did.
‘‘Where we sat [in Round 2], there were two good starting-level defensive players,’’ he said. ‘‘And I would have made a huge mistake for this organization to say: ‘Let’s leave them there, let someone else take them, and we’re going to go to offense where they’re not on the same level.’ And then you’re kicking yourself a year or two later when that guy’s an All-Pro [because], ‘Yeah, I just did what I needed at the time.’
‘‘So it comes back to discipline and doing things the right way. And I felt like that’s going to be a decision that we’re all happy with.’’
Technically, the Bears gave Fields help in the draft. Six of the 11 players Poles drafted play offense. Four are blockers, one is a receiver and another plays running back. It’s impossible to argue, however, that the Bears’ offense got substantially better.
The Bears took only one offensive player in the first 167 picks of the draft: Tennessee’s Velus Jones, who appears to be a return man/receiver, in that order. Tackle Braxton Jones, a fifth-round pick, played at the FCS level at Southern Utah. The rest of the offensive players were picked in the sixth round or later.
Poles undoubtedly will look at veteran receivers who are cut as a result of the draft or during training camp.
As opposed to a year ago at this time, Fields is the present — and future — of the franchise.
When Poles watched film with Fields, he was impressed by how easy he was to talk to.
‘‘Justin is, like, a really good listener,’’ he said.
But Fields needs help. The Bears need to hear that loud and clear.