Should GM Ryan Poles trade up? Which WR can select the Chicago Bears? 4 questions heading into the NFL draft. – Chicago Tribune

The NFL draft begins Thursday night and, boy, do the Chicago Bears have a rebuilding job ahead of them. But without any first-round picks and only six selections to work with, new general manager Ryan Poles will have his work cut out for him.

As the draft draws near, our team of Bears writers weighs in on four timely topics.

Brad Biggs: A non-starter.

The Bears need volume. They’ve got needs across the board on both sides of the ball, so bundling multiple picks to move into the first round worth much of a discussion. They’re much better off using both of their second-round picks or even sliding down a little and adding more selections. Of course, that would require finding the right trade partner.

Colleen Kane: Probably not the best option.

We don’t know Poles’ draft tendencies yet, so a trade up is certainly possible. But listening to some of his comments over the last couple of months, it would seem a trade back down could be more likely. Poles only has six picks to work with this year, one of which he acquired from the Los Angeles Chargers in the Khalil Mack trade.

When asked how his assessment of what he could get on Day 2 of the draft played into the Mack trade, Poles said, “It puts us in the range of really good players. And at the same time, that also allows us to maneuver a little bit. Because we don’t have a ton of picks, so if there is a way to create more, we’ll be open to that. ”

Poles’ cautious approach in free agency has left him with many holes to fill. It also indicated he has a meter for when and when not to be aggressive, and perhaps that will extend to the draft.

Dan Wiederer: Improbable.

As it stands, the Bears have only 63 players presently under contract and are working to build their roster up to 90 in the coming weeks. They have needs across all three phases and at just about every position, and enter draft week with only six picks – two second-rounders, a third, two in the fifth and a sixth. It’s far more likely Poles will trade down in either Round 2 or Round 3, adding picks to his collection, than it is that he would make an aggressive move up.

Draft weekend is always unpredictable and full of hope. That’s the charm of the whole extravaganza. So for a few more days it’s fine to dream of the Bears vaulting upward with Poles making sure his first draft pick as a GM comes in the first round. But prepare for Thursday night to be uneventful at Halas Hall, a tracking experience in the team’s draft room as Poles and his staff ready themselves for a momentous Night 2.

Biggs: George Pickens.

He had some injuries at Georgia, but when he was on the field, he was a big-play machine. He’s got a chance of going in the back end of the first round, so in terms of really intriguing targets, how about North Dakota State’s Christian Watson? He’s 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and was timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.36 seconds. Add in a 38 ½-inch vertical jump and Watson is a dynamic athlete who could emerge as a top playmaker.

The Bears will not find a polished future No. 1 wide receiver in the second round. But they could find a player with the skills to develop into that type of producer down the road.

Kane: John Metchie III.

Metchie, a 5-foot-11, 187-pound receiver from Alabama, is coming off a torn ACL in December and also played through injuries in 2020. Some draft analysts think those injuries and durability concerns could mean he’s available to the Bears at their second or third picks at Nos. 48 and 71. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes Metchie could be a “great value pick” if he drops after he totaled 96 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games before his knee injury.

Bears coach Matt Eberflus played for Alabama coach Nick Saban for a season in college at Toledo, so I wonder if he puts extra stock in an evaluation like this from Saban: “This guy is the epitome of what you look for in a wide receiver. He is tough. He plays hurt. He plays physical. He gets open. He makes catches. He makes plays. He never complains. ”

Georgia wide receiver George Pickens is another intriguing receiver who might come at a value after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL. I’m interested to see if the Bears think either is worth the risk.

Wiederer: John Metchie III.

Metchie is likely to be available for the Bears with either of their two second-round picks and could even slip into Round 3 in a receiver class loaded with talent and depth. Coming off a December ACL tear, Metchie’s medical chart will be incredibly important for the Bears to scrutinize. (He also had ankle surgery after his sophomore season in 2020.) And he may need to ease back into practice later this summer at a rate that contending teams in need of receiver help might not have the patience for. But the Bears are in patient mode right now, building for the future more than they are pushing to win right away. So they’d have a luxury in blending Metchie into their offense at whatever rate makes most sense.

Metchie is only 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds. And his speed and athleticism isn’t extraordinary. But as Ryan Poles looks for players with proven playmaking ability, Metchie checks those boxes with a Sharpie. He has shown an advanced understanding of how to feel out defenses. His route running is crisp. And last season he had 96 catches, 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns before missing almost three quarters of the SEC Championship Game plus Alabama’s two games in the College Football Playoff.

ESPN senior draft analyst Todd McShay appreciates Metchie’s grit.

“Metchie does all the dirty work,” McShay said. “Over the middle. On third downs, when you have to rely on a receiver, he finds a way to separate and get open. He made a lot of tough catches and I think he’s a lot better after the catch than people give him credit for. ”

Biggs: Offensive and defensive lines.

That’s especially true if you are putting stock in what GM Ryan Poles has said – and what he’s tried to accomplish so far.

Maybe there is a receiver in the second round the Bears feel like they have to grab, but Poles has spoken on the record about upgrading the offensive line and thus far the only move (beyond depth signings) has been signing center Lucas Patrick. The biggest move Poles attempted to make was signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi before that deal was nixed. That’s enough to lead me toward the trenches when looking at what Poles could do. From there, I think the Bears look at their draft board and determine what stands out most – a wide receiver or a cornerback. Both are real needs. There’s likely going to be a greater supply of available receivers at that point.

Kane: Wide receiver and cornerback.

However, there is a possibility Poles, a former Boston College offensive lineman, might disagree with me. Shortly after the Bears introduced Poles this winter, he spoke of his priorities for building around quarterback Justin Fields, indicating that starts with the offensive line.

Speaking of the Cincinnati Bengals’ offseason plan last year, Poles said he might have gone with offensive tackle Penei Sewell rather than wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase at pick No. 5, even though the Bengals’ choice also worked out. So we could see Poles target an offensive lineman on Day 2, given they still have a need for a starting guard to replace James Daniels, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and could have questions at either tackle spot.

But the Bears also have big needs at wide receiver and cornerback. The good news is the Bears have two second-round picks and a third-rounder to address those needs.

Wiederer: Sing it with us now. Get. Justin. Help.

The mission to catalyze Justin Fields’ development is ongoing. And this week that means a first-time general manager must work to plug holes in his offense, both up front on the line and at receiver. After all seven rounds of the draft are complete and Poles and his staff have combined through the flea market of undrafted free agency, the Bears should be hoping they have united with a handful of potential starters on offense. They need to be aggressive in landing a playmaking receiver or two for Fields to throw to. Increased offensive line stability is never a bad thing either, with Poles certain to consider possible upgrades at tackle or on the interior of the line.

Biggs: Focused on clearing out cap space and roster spots for the future.

The Bears were bargain shoppers in free agency and that did not come as a surprise. They’re hopeful a handful of players signed to short-term contracts will emerge as good fits moving forward and earn second contracts.

The Bears will have some big contracts coming off the books by 2023 – and they’ll also be whole with draft capital. Poles didn’t inherit a rehab project for a weekend warrior. It’s going to require time, some shrewd moves and then development by the coaching staff. The Bears will certainly be able to attract free agents after the draft with the pitch that they will be able to compete for playing time. There’s still a lot of work to do and judging the roster work to this point is a little premature.

Kane: Just the beginning.

Poles’ biggest offseason moves so far were trading Khalil Mack to the Chargers and opting not to sign defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a $ 40.5 million deal because of a failed physical. Poles has made some interesting short-term signings of players with something to prove, including linebacker Nicholas Morrow, wide receiver Byron Pringle and slot cornerback Tavon Young. And he will make some key additions in the draft and likely sign more free agents in the months to come.

But for a Bears team in need of talent, there is a long way to go. Poles has been clear that getting the roster the way he wants it – given salary-cap restrictions and limited draft capital this year – is going to take time. And while patience may not come easily for Bears fans looking for big changes from the Ryan Pace era, Poles’ work will be better judged in about 13 months when he has been through two free agencies and drafts.

Wiederer: Nondescript. But necessarily so.

Poles inherited a roster that had aged and declined and was lacking top-tier talent in too many areas. His stated goal from the outset was to rebuild through the draft as much as possible while avoiding the temptation to seek out high-priced free agents or other convenient quick fixes. That’s why this becomes such a critical week.

Since taking over at Halas Hall in January, Poles’ biggest transactions have been the players he has gotten rid of (Khalil Mack, Eddie Goldman, Tarik Cohen, Danny Trevathan) or opted not to re-sign (Allen Robinson, James Daniels and Akiem Hicks). A big swing at defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi wound up being a foul tip after the Bears backed out of a three-year, $ 40.5 million deal because of unexpected results from Ogunjobi’s team physical. One of the Bears’ most notable roster additions to this point this offseason? Receiver Byron Pringle, who signed a one-year, $ 6 million deal. Ho-hum, right? Even worse, Pringle was arrested this weekend in Florida for reckless driving. Not exactly the kind of headlines a rebuilding team wants to be making with one of its most prized new additions.

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