The immediate reaction to the Chicago Bears’ decision to draft two defensive players with their first two selections in the 2022 NFL Draft wasn’t kind. Pundits questioned General Manager Ryan Poles’ decision to bypass wide receivers like George Pickens (Georgia) and Alec Pierce (Cincinnati), but after adding a slew of offensive linemen and a quality edge rusher on day three, the narrative around Poles’ first draft has quickly changed.
In fact, the Bears earned an A- from NFL.com for their 2022 draft haul:
While the Bears did not have a first-round pick because of their 2021 draft-day trade to select Justin Fields, they did address the primary needs in the secondary by grabbing two likely rookie starters in Gordon and Brisker. Jones gives the team depth at receiver and a punt return option, even if he might only end up signing one contract with the team because he will be a 25-year-old rookie.
The offensive line was addressed on Day 3, with Thomas possessing the nasty streak and mobility to win the swing tackle spot as a rookie. Jones is a solid pass protector with nice length, and Carter is a potential sixth lineman. Ebner is an electric kick returner. Keeping the sturdy, experienced and athletic Kramer in Illinois will pay off when he starts early in his career. The departure of Pat O’Donnell led Chicago to pick Gill
It isn’t surprising that Poles is receiving praise for this year’s draft. Defense remains a critical part of football, and adding two immediate starters to a secondary that began the offseason with several question marks is a huge win.
In total, the Bears added 11 new players, including four offensive linemen, three defensive backs, an edge rusher, a running back, a wide receiver, and a punter. It’s safe to call 2022 a well-rounded draft.
It’s impossible to fill every team need on draft weekend. And it’s true that the Bears still have work to do at wide receiver. It remains unlikely that Poles will begin the 2022 season without adding another veteran pass-catcher with a proven track record, even if he comes via a one-year deal in the third wave of free agency. Jarvis Landry, for example, remains unsigned and would be a great veteran addition to the wide receiver room.
For now, Poles can bask in the afterglow of a job well done in the 2022 NFL Draft.