INDIANAPOLIS -- Bears general manager Ryan Poles said he'd do his "due diligence" and meet with several of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft.
That due diligence obviously starts with Alabama's Bryce Young. The 2021 Heisman Trophy winner met with Poles and the Bears' staff earlier this week in Indianapolis and gave a positive review of his time with the Chicago brass.
"It was a great room to be a part of," Young said Friday. "We were able to talk ball. We were able to talk about my last year. It was a great staff. It was an honor. There was a lot of knowledge, a lot of wisdom in that room. For me to be able to pick their brain to learn so much was great."
Young understands the criticism of his size but doesn't think it will impact his ability to play at the highest level.
"I've been this size, respectfully, my whole life," Young said. "I know who I am. I know what I can do. For me, [the concerns are] fair. Everyone can speculate and ask when the questions are necessary. I'm going to continue to control what I can control. I'm going to keep working my hardest to improve myself at the position. I'm confident in myself. I know what I can do. I'm just excited to be at the next level."
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While Young gave a positive, stock review of his meeting with the Bears, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud made it clear Chicago belongs to quarterback Justin Fields. He hopes to make his mark somewhere else.
“I mean, no, I don’t want to go there,” Stroud said. “That’s his team. I can do my thing. I can go build my legacy. Me and him are brothers for life.”
Stroud was teammates with Fields at Ohio State. The projected No. 2 quarterback in the class has heard the criticisms of Fields' passing ability and offered a vigorous defense of the Bears quarterback.
"He ain’t no damn running back," Stroud said. "He’s a quarterback. He can sling that rock. I’m gonna stand up for my brother every time, and he’s gonna do great things in his career and I’m excited to play with him [in the NFL].”
On Tuesday, Poles reaffirmed that Fields will be his starting quarterback in 2023. The Bears' general manager has been in constant communication with the soon-to-be 24-year-old quarterback about Chicago's plans and will have to be "blown away" to draft a quarterback and move away from Fields.
Poles saw good things from Fields this past season and is confident that the young signal-caller can make significant strides as a passer in 2023 when given more help.
"Those are those moments that did blow you away," Poles said of Fields and how he plays into the long checklist to draft a quarterback at No. 1. "His athletic ability and ability to create explosive plays were special. Now, what we’ve had discussions about, and I talked about it openly, like, he’s got to take the next step in his game and I’m excited to see that because I think he’s going to."
Poles will spend the next few weeks searching for a trade partner for the No. 1 pick. The Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, and others are expected to be interested in the pick.
The Bears did their due diligence by meeting with Young. They'll attend his pro day at Alabama as well. Then, they'll trade the No. 1 pick -- and the right to draft Young -- to the highest bidder.
It's unlikely that one positive combine meeting with cause Poles to alter his plans. But when it comes to the NFL draft, anything is possible.