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Ryan Poles defends going defense with Bears’ first two draft picks

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons look back on a busy first round at the 2022 NFL Draft with a round of Which Doesn't Belong and Why.

Most people thought Bears General Manager Ryan Poles was going to prioritize helping quarterback Justin Fields in this year’s NFL draft. But Poles made defense his top priority.

After the draft, Poles said the two defensive players he selected with the Bears’ first two picks -- cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker -- were far and away the top two players on the board when they made those picks.

“This year, where we sat, to me, there were two good starting-level defensive players,” Poles said. “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.’ And then you’re kicking yourself a year or two later when the guy’s an All-Pro.”

The Bears did take receiver Velus Jones with their third pick, and they drafted four offensive linemen on Day 3. But if Gordon and Brisker don’t make a significant impact in the secondary as rookies, there’s going to be plenty of second-guessing about why Fields isn’t being given a better chance to take a big step forward in Year 2.