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Perfect Bears 2022 NFL Draft plan: How new general manager Ryan Poles can support second-year QB Justin Fields

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The Chicago Bears reportedly hired Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles to serve as the organization’s new general manager. Poles inherits a roster that finished 6-11 this season and features quarterback Justin Fields.

There are a myriad of ways that the first-time general manager could look to upgrade the roster in short order. Chronologically, the team will go through free agency before arriving at the 2022 NFL Draft. Despite mutually productive careers in Chicago, it feels as though the team will finally part ways with wide receiver Allen Robinson and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks this offseason — both of whom are free agents. 

According to Spotrac.com, the Bears have roughly $34.4 million in salary cap space this offseason, which ranks No. 10 in the league. There are not a wealth of options to increase that number in 2022. In all likelihood, the team will make a concerted effort to sign offensive guard James Daniels and, presumably, safety DeAndre Houston-Carson. Offensive linemen Germain Ifedi and Jason Peters, wide receiver Jakeem Grant and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols could be candidates to re-sign. None of those moves should impact or prohibit the team from doing anything else in free agency. 

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The primary objective should be surrounding Fields with the offensive talent necessary to build his confidence and achieve success. The blueprint could entail adding a wide receiver, offensive tackle and/or center. 

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In terms of free agency, some of the centers potentially available in free agency include the BuccaneersRyan Jensen, RavensBradley Bozeman and PanthersMatt Paradis. Jacksonville’s Cam Robinson, New Orleans’ Terron Armstead and New England’s Trent Brown are some of the tackles available. The wide receiver list is probably well-known in the Windy City by now: Los Angeles’ Mike Williams, Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin and Green Bay’s Davante Adams, to name a few.

As for the draft, here are some prospects the Bears could select to bolster those positions: 

Round 2: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Pickens would probably be a first-round choice had he not suffered a torn ACL in the spring. He was out of sight and out of mind before returning late in the season and making some pivotal receptions during the Bulldogs’ national championship run. Pickens is a long pass catcher who is capable of climbing the ladder and making plays for his quarterback. Fields needs support to have a chance at success in this league. Darnell Mooney is essentially the only contributor slated to return at the position, so it could be a wholesale change. 

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Round 3: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

Walker is still a bit raw and he struggles with balance as a result of leaning in his stance. There are some consistency issues that need to be cleaned up, but the Nittany Lion turns 22 years old in February. There is plenty of time to work on his technique and capitalize on the athleticism. There is hope that Teven Jenkins returns and occupies one of those five starting positions.

Poles is coming from a Kansas City organization that underwent offensive line construction last season. All five starters were replaced through trade, free agency and the NFL Draft. There is experience building that unit.

Round 5: Dylan Parham, IOL, Memphis & Danny Gray, WR, SMU

The reasoning used for the first two selections applies to the team’s fifth-round picks as well. Parham has a chance to make a name for himself and rise at the Senior Bowl next week. He has a lot of support in the scouting community and could absolutely capitalize on the opportunity to showcase his talents against Power Five products in Mobile. Parham is a savvy player with plus skills to communicate and pick up stunts and twists. 

Gray is one of the more underrated prospects in this draft class in my opinion. He shows good range, soft hands and an ability to track the football down the field. The Dallas native has great speed and has been highly productive over the past two years. Gray will have his opportunity to impress at the Senior Bowl as well.

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Round 6: Joshua Ezeudu, IOL, North Carolina

Ezeudu continues the mission to supply depth to the offensive line. If one of those two Day 3 offensive line selections pan out, then Chicago has struck gold. At day’s end, all five draft choices were used on the offensive side of the ball. 

For more NFL Draft coverage, watch and subscribe to our weekly YouTube show as part of the Pick Six podcast feed!  You can also indulge in our weekly updated mock drafts


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