The NFL Combine hasn’t even begun, and we’re already seeing reports of who the Bears plan on scouting and speaking with over the course of the week in Indianapolis. None of it should be alarming, either.
CBS Insider Jonathan Jones reported on Monday that the Bears are expected to meet with “most, if not all, of the top quarterbacks,” at the Combine, but added the caveat that these meetings shouldn’t be an indication of what they’ll do when the draft kicks off in late April. That caveat is the most important piece of the report.
In fact, it should be encouraging for Bears fans that Poles is expected to meet with all these QBs, because it means he’s doing his job. If the Bears want to trade away the No. 1 pick in the draft, as is widely expected, they need to know everything about the potential value of that pick before trading it away. That means doing extensive scouting on the players who could be selected No. 1 overall, and why those players would be valuable to another team.
If Poles truly wants to trade away the pick, there’s a chance he could use these meetings as a smokescreen. There are reports that multiple teams have already called Poles to ask about the No. 1 pick, but we don’t really know what the market is for a trade. If Poles doesn’t believe other GMs are offering him fair value for the chance to select whatever QB they want, maybe he makes them believe he’ll keep the pick for himself? Poles publicly supported Justin Fields at his year-end press conference and said the expectation is that Fields will be their starter in 2023, but Poles also left the door open ever so slightly to draft a player like Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud.
“We’re gonna do the same as we’ve always done,” Poles said back in January. “We’re gonna evaluate the draft class, and I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision.”
Sounds like shrewd public negotiation on Poles’ part.
The NFL Combine starts on Tuesday and when it does there will be even more reports of teams meeting with players. Some of it will be teams simply doing due diligence. Some of it will be genuine interest in drafting a player. Some of it will be misdirection. The one thing that’s important to remember is not to put too much stock into any of it.