Chicago Bears Top 3 from Ryan Poles and Ian Cunningham’s pre-draft press conference

LAKE FOREST – General manager Ryan Poles and assistant general manager Ian Cunningham addressed the media Tuesday afternoon at Halas Hall for their annual pre-draft press conference.

Unlike any draft in franchise history, the Bears are in sole possession of the No. 1 overall pick and are in need of a franchise quarterback.

Polen and Cunningham spoke for about 18 minutes. Here are the three main takeaways from the press conference.

Caleb Williams will be the No. 1 overall pick

The first question for the Pole was whether he plans to make Caleb Williams the Bears’ next quarterback. Poland started his answer with “So unfortunately” and then started smiling as he continued answering the question. Cunningham started grinning too.

“It’s one of those things that I think everyone should watch on Thursday
and figuring it out, but I feel really good about our process and where we are and where we’re going,” Poles said. “So yeah, we know what we’re going to do, but everyone will have to wait until Thursday to go there.”

A good comparison to describe Polen and Cunningham at that time is with children going into their parents’ closet, finding their unwrapped Christmas gifts, and then being asked a few days before the holiday if they had any idea what Santa would get for them. . Everyone knows it, and the smiles Poland and Cunningham showed on Tuesday were a clear giveaway.

What the Bears did want to know about Williams is how he would interact with current members of the Bears roster at a private dinner during Williams’ 30-year visit. As expected, Williams checked all the boxes and Poland received positive feedback from his players about the future No. 1 overall pick.

“Really intelligent guy,” Poland said. “Came across as a very good teammate, easy to talk to, down to earth. We talked about this process over the whole Hollywood thing. He is all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team. That is the most important thing for him, besides success. So I think the most important thing is whether he fits into our culture and what we’re trying to do, and all signs were that he does. That was positive.”

There are just two days left before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls Williams’ name with the first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Bears are comfortable with limited depth capital

The Bears currently have just four picks in the 2024 NFL Draft: No. 1, 9, 75 and 122.

For most teams, that would be seen as a negative, especially if an organization had plenty of holes on the roster to fill. While the Bears have the fewest picks of any team in 2024, they still don’t feel the need to add more picks.

“I feel really good about where we are right now,” Poles said. “If that happens, that’s great. “If we have less, we have to do everything we can to achieve what we want to achieve and improve our football team.”

Poland is clearly not putting any emphasis on the limited opportunities he currently has in this draft, and that’s due to the current status of the roster. This Bears team has come a long way from the roster the Poles inherited in 2022.

“Yes, things change and change as you go along,” Poles said. “It’s going to be hard to make this team now. It will be very difficult to form this team. That doesn’t mean you won’t want photos later. We always welcome many choices, but there is no need to panic about the situation we are in now with the number of choices we have. It fits with our roster, but it also fits a little bit, as we just talked about, with the current status of this design and its progress, as well as what next year looks like.

Three positions are still the greatest need

Since Poland became general manager in 2022, the organization has won just 10 games in total. Clearly there is room for improvement, but the Poles can look at where the squad started and where it is now and feel good about the progress.

“The job was never done, but we had those conversations and it does put a smile on your face when it comes to the work we did,” Poles said. “I feel like we’ve done a good job of getting the squad where it is. I feel really fortunate about some of the things that have happened that have allowed us to build a roster, maybe a little bit more efficiently than if everything was a little bit flat. It’s something to be proud of, but of
while the work is not yet done. I’ve talked about it on paper before. In this competition you have to play and win matches. That’s what it comes down to, but we took the time to, for a second, not long, but we are proud of where we come from.”

Polen and Cunningham can be proud of their progress, but still understand that this roster has some holes that need to be addressed. Poles identified three premium position groups Tuesday afternoon: offensive line, defensive line and receiver.

Based on the research and drills the Bears did in the pre-draft process, Poland said he thinks he can be “flexible” with those premium positions.

“There are several championship-caliber teams that have built their teams in different ways,” Poles said. “Really, I think it has strengthened those premium positions
are important. I’d say those three are there and fit this design quite well.

Poland was asked about the defensive line and the trade-off between the importance of an outside edge rusher and a defensive tackle.

“We talked about inside and outside,” Polen said. “Both are multipliers. In general, I would say the insider has the shortest path to the quarterback. So when you’ve done that, we’ve both lived with really good, elite players inside, and it changes everything, and it opens up a lot for other teams as well. So yes, having that inner rush is probably a preference. When you have an outside guy, it becomes very difficult to make plans.”


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