Bears GM Ryan Poles Sends Clear Message With Day 2 NFL Draft Picks

Ryan Poles Bears

In two days, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles has fortified the trenches.

On the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft, he selected University of Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick.

For his follow-up, Pace turned back to the SEC for two more picks with defensive linemen Gervon Dexter Sr from the University of Florida and Zacch Pickens of South Carolina and remained in the southern region of the country to get the third in standout cornerback Tyrique Stevenson out of the University of Miami.

Three of the four players are seniors and the other is a redshirt junior. All of them have plenty of experience with no fewer than 36 starts (Dexter) in their respective collegiate careers – being battle-tested is key with all three potentially stepping into starting roles.

They are also explosive athletes.

Ryan Poles Rebuilds Trenches, Stacks Secondary for Bears on Day 2 of NFL Draft

Rd. 2 Pick No. 53
Gervon Dexter Sr. – DL – Florida
6-foot-6 | 310 lbs

Dexter recorded just 4.5 sacks over his final two seasons down in Gainesville but did tally over 100 total tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded two fumbles and even snagged an interception in that span. A former basketball player, he is only scratching the surface of what he can – and what the Bears need him to – do.

“Good run defender who can eat up space and plug gaps and hard to move with one-on-one blocks,” said his former assistant coach at Florida, Luis Mcleod, per Chicago sports reporter Daniel Greenberg on April 28. “He has been working very hard on his pass rush.”

Rd. 2 Pick No. 56
Tyrique Stevenson – CB – Miami
6-foot | 198 lbs

For the second year in a row, the Bears took a cornerback that we had mocked to them – and in the same round, no less. But Tyrique Stevenson is a different style of player than last year’s No. 39 overall pick, Kyler Gordon. He is built more like fourth-year corner Jaylon Johnson – who just happens to be heading into the final year of his contract – and figures to contend on the outside, allowing the Bears to put Gordon back in the slot.

Chicago traded the Nos. 61 and 135 picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars to jump up and take him.

There could be some concern with the lack of takeaways meaning poor ball skills. But he recorded seven pass deflections last season and 11 over his final two seasons and is otherwise solid.

“The Chicago Bears are getting a physical press corner in Tyrique Stevenson, who was one of the most impressive defenders at this year’s Senior Bowl,” tweeted Luke Chaney of The Miami Hurricane.

The Bears’ passing defense ranked 17th in yards and 10th in touchdowns allowed last season.

But that is largely because teams ran the ball so easily – they were still 32nd in net yards per attempt.

Rd. 3 Pick No. 64
Zacch Pickens – DL – South Carolina
6-foot–4 | 291lbs

Knowing how brutal his run defense and pass rush – 31st in pressure rate and 32nd in sacks – last year, Poles went right back to the defensive line with South Carolina’s Zacch Pickens who spoke about his versatility saying he can play, “Wherever the team needs me,” per Zach Pearson of Bear Report.

“If I do everything right and I know I will, I can be one of the greats,” Pickens said, per Greenberg. “I’m not holding that back. I’m so for real. If I check all of the boxes and when I do, I promise I’m going to be the best defensive interior tackle.”

Pickens recorded 6.5 sacks and 9.0 tackles for loss this past season, recovering one fumble, and one pass deflection.

Ryan Poles, Bears’ Day 2 Haul Leaves Glaring Hole

Poles certainly seemed to be targeting a certain type of player in this draft and it was not solely based on experience and durability.

Stevenson would be the only exception.

That would still seem to leave a need for an EDGE presence, though the Bears watched two separate runs on the position and went in different directions. As has been the case for much of this cycle, though, there figure to be any number of players available when the Bears next come on the clock at No. 104.

At that point, however, you’re targeting depth and would have to be fortunate to uncover an impact player. There are other avenues – free agency and/or possibly even a trade – to address the issue and should likely be explored even if the Bears draft someone.

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