LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles would rather avoid calling what he has done with his team’s roster a rebuild.
Whether he likes calling it constructing a team or a rebuild, the Bears are heading into Poles’ first NFL draft badly in need of players and short on draft picks.
“Regardless of how you use whatever term that is, we just continue to add talent,” Poles said Tuesday. “And young talent, older talent, whatever it takes to make the best team possible.”
Poles likens what he has done with the roster so far to what he and his wife see when watching home-improvement shows on television.
“You might have to redo some countertops over here, some fresh paint over there,” Poles said. “Some rooms are good. You don’t need to touch them. So that’s kind of the thought process there. That’s not a rebuild.”
Areas in need of help are the receiver corps and the offensive line, as the Bears could stand to provide quarterback Justin Fields more assistance in his second season. Their defense needs help in the secondary and also on the defensive line after trading Khalil Mack.
The Bears have six picks in the draft, with none in Thursday’s first round after trading one away to move up and select Fields last year. They also have no fourth-round pick for the same reason and lack a seventh-rounder. They own picks Nos. 39 and 48 in Round 2, 71 in Round 3, 148 and 150 in Round 5 and 186 in Round 6.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but at the same time that’s why I was hired,” Poles said, adding his goal is to construct the best roster possible.
As a result of the pick shortage Poles inherited from former GM Ryan Pace, he’ll likely look for chances to trade down for more picks.
Some positions where the Bears appear weak are spots that Poles sees as being deep with talent in this draft.
“I would say the O-line depth is pretty good,” Poles said. “Some good depth at the DBs, there’s a couple good defensive linemen, the running back class may not be top heavy, but there’s like a ton — it’s crazy how many running backs there are.”
College players opting out due to COVID-19 and maintaining eligibility is part of the reason Poles sees for so many running backs being available.
“That’s why it took so much time to get the (draft) board set, not only at the top but at the bottom,” he said. “There are a lot of players on this board.”
The bottom line for Poles as the Bears approach this draft is what GMs in the league have said for decades: They’ll take the best available player.
It doesn’t matter if they have particular position needs to complement their quarterback as he’d be helped by a better overall roster.
“I think any time you just improve the team overall, you’re helping all of the players out,” Poles said. “That can look different. You could say he needs receivers, receivers, receivers, but he needs blocking, too, and he also needs balance in terms of running the ball efficiently and getting that done up front and then you can do some play-action pass stuff.
“Then you can do different things: turnovers, maybe a returner to flip the field to score more points. So it’s all connected. That’s really why the mindset is to get the best players on this team as possible. If I get too lopsided and be like, ‘I’ve got to do this specific thing,’ I think that’s where you lead into big mistakes.”
It’s mistakes that led to the Bears going 6-11 last year, and in this situation where they’re rebuilding — or reconstructing.
NOTES: Veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn and running back Khalil Herbert were named the veteran and rookie winners of the team’s Brian Piccolo award. The award has been given out since 1970 in memory of the late Bears running back. … Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey, the daughter of founder George Halas, was in attendance at the Piccolo announcement. Her son, board chairman George McCaskey, had said during the March owners meetings that over the winter his 99-year-old mother had a “medical issue” that needed to be resolved.
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