Bears GM Ryan Poles needs to swing a big stick in the second round of draft

Still with major needs at offensive tackle, defensive end and 3-technique after the initial waves of free agency, Poles likely will need to parlay picks No. 53, 61 and 64 into two or three starters or immediate contributors for a needed boost in 2023.

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LSU defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (99) is “one of the most underrateed players in this draft,” according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.

LSU defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy (99) is “one of the most underrateed players in this draft,” according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr.

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Bears general manager Ryan Poles’ approach to free agency — patient, prudent or perhaps overcautious — surprisingly left the Bears with three major holes in their rebuild: offensive tackle, defensive end and three-technique defensive tackle.

They can only address one of those with the No. 9 pick in the NFL Draft on April 27. That puts a little more pressure on Poles to find Day 1 starters or contributors at key positions in the second round.

The Bears in effect have three second-round picks — No. 53 (acquired in the Roquan Smith trade), No. 61 (acquired from Carolina in the deal for the No. 1 overall pick) and No. 64 (the first pick of the third round, but normally a second-round pick — the NFL stripped the Dolphins of their first-round pick for tampering, so there are only 31 first-round picks this year).

The second round arguably is the most crucial part of the draft for Poles. The No. 9 overall pick is a higher risk that Poles can’t afford to miss. But the player pool is much smaller at that point. Day 3 (the fourth through seventh rounds) is hit-and-miss.

But the second and third rounds are a sweet spot where many general managers do most of their best work. Even Bears GMs who have subpar batting averages in the first round have high percentages in the second round — including Jerry Angelo (Matt Forte, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman), Phil Emery (Alshon Jeffery) and Ryan Pace (Eddie Goldman, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Cole Kmet, Jaylon Johnson).

Poles is already off to a good start. He did not have a first-round pick in his first draft as the Bears’ general manager last year, but his two second-round picks are promising — cornerback Kyler Gordon (No. 39) and safety Jaquan Brisker (No. 48) were Week 1 starters. Gordon had an up-and-down season — typical for a rookie cornerback — with the arrow pointing up at the end, including an interception in two of his final three games. Brisker was consistently productive, had four sacks (a team high) and looks like a future stalwart on defense.

Poles doesn’t currently have a pick as high as the ones he used to get Gordon and Brisker — and that remains a bit of a void in the Bears’ otherwise enviable draft bounty. Poles had to give up his own second round pick (No. 32 overall) to get Chase Claypool from the Steelers (instead of No. 53, the second-round pick he received from the Ravens in the Roquan Smith trade). And he had to settle for the Panthers’ lower second-round pick (No. 61) instead of their higher one (No. 39) in the deal for the No. 1 overall pick.

But with three picks in the second-round range, Poles has enough capital to move up — possibly to the late first round and more likely to the early second round. But still with many holes to fill off a 3-14 season, he might prefer quantity over quality. It figures to be a big war-room decision for Poles — is one player better than two, or three, at this point of the rebuild?

A lot of it will depend on need. With Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter’s draft status apparently rehabilitated after he was arrested for speeding and reckless driving in relation to a fatal car accident, the Bears don’t figure to have a shot at either of the two most revered defensive players in the draft.

Alabama defensive end Will Anderson is expected to be the first non-quarterback taken. Carter, after individual meetings with several NFL teams following the resolution of his legal issue (12 months probation and a $1,000 fine), is picked to go to the Seahawks at No. 5 in many updated mock drafts, or the Lions at No. 6.

With Anderson and Carter out, the Bears are expected to draft an offensive tackle at No. 9 — likely Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr., Tennessee’s Darnell Wright or Georgia’s Broderick Jones.

If that ensues, the defensive line will be a priority in the second round. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the Bears taking LSU defensive end B.J. Ojulari at No. 53 and LSU defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy at No. 61 in his two-round mock draft published Tuesday.

But Kiper said if the Bears want to move up, they’ll have some good options, including Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald, Georgia Tech defensive end Keion White, Tennessee defensive end Byron Young and Auburn edge rusher Derick Hall.

Kiper has McDonald going to the Chiefs at No. 31 overall in the first round; White to the Rams at No. 36; Young to the Packers at No. 45; and Hall to the Eagles at No. 52 — one pick before the Bears.

But, at least for defensive linemen, it does not appear that moving up assures the Bears of getting a much better player. Kiper’s most enthusiastic endorsement, in fact, was for Jaquelin Roy — the player he has the Bears getting at No. 61. And Roy sounds like a Matt Eberflus type of player.

“He’s one of the most underrated players in this draft,” Kiper said. “Roy can really get after the quarterback. His technique, his pass rush technique is there. He hustles. He’ll chase. He’s stout against the run. I think he’s the guy rising from what I hear. It just depends on which pass rusher [the Bears] identify.”

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Albert Ruddy produced more than 30 movies, from the “Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” to “Cannonball Run II” and “Megaforce,” nominees for Golden Raspberry awards for worst movie of the year.