Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles didn’t hold back during his media session at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday. He was blunt about the team’s need to change the body composition of its offensive linemen; the need to put quarterback Justin Fields in a position to succeed; and his affection for wide receiver Darnell Mooney. But let’s dig deeper, shall we? Let’s look closer at what Poles said Tuesday and try to find some breadcrumbs that might reveal who the Bears could be targeting with their first selection—No. 39 overall—in the 2022 NFL draft. Poles, an offensive lineman by trade, appears hyperfocused on getting Chicago’s big uglies rebuilt… literally. “We’re going to change it up a little bit just in terms of the style,” Poles said. “A lot of those guys, and the message has been clear—we’ve got to change body types a little bit. We’ve got to get lighter, we’ve got to get quicker.” This seems like a good place to start, right? Poles wants lighter, more athletic offensive linemen than what his review of Bears film has revealed. This doesn’t bode well for big-bodied power-based players like Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom moving forward. Jenkins was Chicago’s second-round pick in 2021 and Borom was viewed as a fifth-round steal. Both played well in spurts last season and prior to Poles becoming the Bears’ general manager, it appeared they had the tackle spots locked up for 2022. That’s not the case anymore. The bad news for Jenkins and Borom is that the 2022 NFL Draft has several offensive tackle prospects who fit Poles’ desired prototype. Take Central Michigan’s Bernhard Raimann, for example. The former tight-end-turned-offensive tackle is a lean 305 pounds, and he plays offensive tackle with the feet and movement skills of a player who at one time was running routes and catching passes. He’ll be a day-two player and will rank high on the Bears’ wish list. Boston College’s Zion Johnson is more than just a prospect from Poles’ alma mater; he, too, fits the profile of a super athletic and well-built interior offensive lineman who can play virtually any position, and he’ll immediately level up every critical trait of that position. Johnson may end up being a first-round pick by the time the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around, but if he’s on the board at No. 39, he’d qualify as a dream come true for what Poles is looking to accomplish in his first year on the job. Circling back to Jenkins for a minute; Poles sent a cryptic and potentially ominous message to the team’s young offensive linemen, and it certainly felt like it was directed at Jenkins first and foremost. “I think there’s some young talent that just needs to be pressed,” Poles said. “That’s part of our job is to create competition and bring the best out of them. We’ll do that and we’ll see if the cream rises to the top. Especially with the O-line play a lot of times—and I don’t want to speak for the coaches—but it’s gonna end up being the best five to roll out there.” The best five. Not the five with the highest salary-cap figure or the five who have first- or second-round pedigree. Instead, it’ll be the five offensive linemen who Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus identify as fitting their new model for the position group. And it sure feels like some of those guys are going to be added through free agency and the NFL draft. To be fair, Poles did offer a few kind words for the Bears’ current offensive line depth chart. He said that Chicago has “some good offensive linemen” and that it’s about making sure everyone is in the “right spot.” Still, it’s obvious significant change is coming up front, and it’d be smart to bet that Poles uses the 39th pick on a potential new starter.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022