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A Few Good Men Not Enough for Bears

The rebuild being undertaken by Ryan Poles required numerous new players and he found them in the draft  but is it  possible he gave up too much quality by seeking out greater quantity?

The Bears entered the draft with numerous needs because of the decision to completely rebuild, even if they prefer to call it something else.

Overhaul is probably as good a word as any if they dislike rebuild.

The obvious holes were wide receiver, guard, cornerback, safety, tackle and defensive tackle.

Their real problem was the entire roster, as it had begun to decay under former GM Ryan Pace, and new GM Ryan Poles was saddled with gutting it to start over.

In his first effort, Poles wanted to remain true to his draft board and also preserve the integrity of his picks.

Quantity took precedent over quality in some cases because of this rebuild, rehab, overhaul or reconstruction.

Pace left him with a handicap: No first-round or fourth-round pick because of the trade up for Justin Fields. So in essence Fields is a draft pick from two different classes. Fields is but one player, however.

When the overhaul began, it required losing unwanted starters. So virtually any position Poles drafted would be a helpful, whether in the long term and or simply to get a body in a starting spot.

Here's how Poles and staff grade out for handling his first draft.

Meeting Needs: C-

The greatest needs were wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line, safety and defensive tackle. They drafted no defensive tackles but did get one edge rusher in Round 5 at 174, a former wide receiver-turned-defender Dominique Robinson. When the player himself suggets he's "very, very raw," there are warning signs.

The need at safety was brilliantly addressed with Jaquan Brisker from Penn State at 48 in Round 2. He could start immediately and be the best pick they made because they had no starting player to line up  alongside Eddie Jackson in back. Both Dane Cruikshank nor DeAndre Houston-Carson are lifetime safety backups.

The need at starting left cornerback was met at 39 with Washington's Kyler Gordon, one of the best cornerbacks in the draft.

After Round  2, it becomes uncertain how well they met any real needs.

Third-round pick Velus Jones was projected in many mocks or web big boards as fourth-round material at wide receiver and they took him in Round 3. He has the speed/strength combo to be a big-time player but only had one season in six at college when he actually delivered, and he is 25 years old.

There is more involved with playing receiver than athletic ability, otherwise Kevin White would have been in Canton by now instead of hanging on to a practice squad job with 26 career catches.

Because the Bears added no drafted defensive tackle, they may need to sign Larry Ogunjobi to another contract if he can pass a second physical. The defensive line, as it now looks, would be hard-pressed to execute Matt Eberflus' one-gap front.

Upgrading Roster Talent: C

Jones does upgrade their receiver corps, but he was the only receiver selected and they needed more. So they had to hit receivers hard in unrestricted free agency, but those usually are players who max out on a practice squad.

They have a receiver group rivaling the Packers for worst in the NFC North. Considering the Packers drafted both Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs it's pretty even now between those receiver groups because the Packers sent their best receiver, Davante Adams, to Las Vegas but the Bears still have theirs, Darnell Mooney.

Bringing in more offensive linemen will improve competition for roster spots and starting spots and the Bears drafted four. However, they didn't draft a guard, per se. They selected center Doug Kramer and three tackles in Zachary Thomas, Braxton Jones and Ja'Tyre Carter but say each could play guard. It's not the same as drafting a player who focused on guard, but could work—could being the key word.

All were chosen 168 or later, and players taken at this point in the draft or later can never be counted on as certain contributors.

Sticking to the Draft Board: A

There was no way Poles was budging from his draft board in his first draft, especially when many errors had been made in the previous regime. If it meant they had to go without a second-round receiver, then they did. They had Gordon and Brisker so highly graded they weren't about to ignore them at that point or trade down.

"Obviously, I would fire away at all of them if I could," Poles said taking offense first. "It really comes down to the preparation. It coming down to the board and where guys are valued, and this year where we sat to me there were two good starting level defensive players (Brisker and Gordon).

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"And I would have made a huge mistake for this organization to say, 'you know what, let's just leave them there, let someone else take them, and then we're going to go to offense where they're not on the same level.' Then you're kicking yourself a year or two later when that guy is an All-Pro. Yeah, I just did what I needed at the time."

Acquiring More Picks: B

Poles would receive even better marks for this except for one flaw: Although he started with six picks and eventually managed to tie for the draft's most selections made with 11, eight of the picks came at 168 or later. Poles had admitted he didn't like the gap between 71 and 148, but he made the gap even bigger by initiating three trades that created a gap of 71 to 168.

The best place for making trades was with No. 48. It should have yielded a few middle rounders but apparently Poles decided the talent Brisker had was too great to pass on simply to get another mid-round pick, if he even had been given the opportunity for a trade down.

Decision-Making: C+

It will be interesting to see whether Minnesota's Andrew Booth, the 42nd pick, is more productive than Gordon. Many had Booth graded higher.'s big board put Booth No. 26 and a first-rounder but the Bears passed on him. 

Could it turn into another Jaylon Johnson-Trevon Diggs situation. Pace could have taken Diggs and he took Johnson, who is pretty good. However, Johnson has one career interception while Diggs, selected one spot later, has 11.

Both Brisker and Velus Jones need to make Poles look like a genius because he took a safety at 48 while passing on wide receivers Alec Pierce, George Pickens and Skyy Moore. 

All three could turn out to be standouts. The cutoff in recent years for rookie receiver productivity has been the end of Round 2, with the exceptions of Amon-Ra St. Brown and Darnell Mooney. If that's still the case, and all three blossom immediately while Jones struggles, there will be plenty of second-guessers out.

Velus Jones needs to deliver because in the third round they could have also solved some of their offensive line issues instead of waiting for fifth-round blocking quality. Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas were both still available at 71 when Poles took Jones.

Overall: C+

It looked like a blah draft for the Bears coming in, and throwing numbers at their issues will have to suffice for now. Poles is counting on another effect from this group.

"I truly believe when you increase the amount of competition, you get the best out of everybody," Poles said. "It also gives us a high hit rate of players to bring on to the roster that can really impact our team and develop, as well."

Eleven drafted players addresses competition, this much is certain.

If they find a few gems it their later picks, they could make Poles' first draft as much about quality as quantity.