There are several team-building strategies that teams deploy in the NFL Draft. Some of them, like taking the best player available rather than reaching based on need, has been accepted as the most effective way to build a roster. Ryan Poles has proven to have a strong understanding of this, but his ability to look ahead to the future is arguably an even more impressive approach to the draft.
Many expected D’Onta Foreman, whom the team signed to a one-year deal earlier this offseason, to step in and fill the void left by David Montgomery. However, their commitment to him was modest, and the team added a similar player to the running back room with their selection of Roschon Johnson in the fourth round. On top of already being a superior pass-blocker, the University of Texas product gives the team flexibility in deciding whether to sign Foreman to a new deal next offseason.
They added another offensive playmaker later in the fourth round with the selection of Cincinnati receiver Tyler Scott, who is a carbon copy of Darnell Mooney. The Bears are in a similar spot at the receiver position where both Mooney, a former fifth-round selection, and Claypool, who struggled to make an impact after Chicago traded for him ahead of last year’s trade deadline, are in a contract year. If the Bears decide to let one or both of them walk, they have a player capable of providing a similar impact waiting in the wings in Scott.
While their selection of Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson in the second round doesn’t fall in the same category as the selections mentioned above (since adding another cornerback was a priority), it is still a pick that shows their forward-thinking mindset. Jaylon Johnson is entering a contract year and could demand more money than the Bears’ front office is willing to spend based on his lack of ball production. If Stevenson proves he belongs and Kyler Gordon takes another step this year, they may be willing to let him hit the open market.
Poles deserves a great deal of credit for their timely draft selections, but Assistant GM Ian Cunningham also deserves his fair share of praise. Both men come from winning organizations in the Chiefs (Poles) and Eagles (Cunningham), and they both seem to have a firm understanding of what it takes to build a perennial contender. Their ability to target their glaring weaknesses while looking ahead to the future is nothing short of impressive. That is what good teams do.
Praising the Bears brass for critically thinking may seem like praising a quarterback for taking a check down on second and two. However, Chicago’s shot-callers, unfortunately, do not have an extensive history of doing the right thing. Having a front office that knows how to build a roster the right way is like a breath of fresh air.
Will every move pan out? No, absolutely not. A few of their selections will be working blue-collar jobs in five years; that’s just the nature of the NFL. It is virtually impossible to bat a thousand in the draft. With that said, they seemed to have put the franchise in a good position for the future, and it’s okay to be excited about where the team is going.
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