Tag Archives: Darnell Wright

Ryan Poles Issues Telling Statement on Bears’ Plans for NFL Draft Day 2

The Chicago Bears came away with the potential final piece of their offensive line taking University of Tennessee tackle Darnell Wright in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft but they still have a glaring need for some reinforcements along the defensive line.

To get some, Bears general manager Ryan Poles is willing to be mobile.

Bears GM on Day 2 of NFL Draft: ‘We Might Have to Maneuver’

“I think that’s going to play into, based on the numbers that we have, we feel confident that there’s going to be opportunity there,” Poles told reporters from Halas Hall. “We might have to maneuver a little bit and see what we can do. And I’ve seen that before where you try to move and you strike out once the pairing doesn’t make sense. And the guy or guys fall to you which is always a good experience too. But, yeah, we might have to move a little bit and see what happens. But I feel good about it.”

Players such as Keion White of Georgia Tech or Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame would seem to be nice fits. LSU’s BJ Ojulari is undersized but the Bears showed interest in Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith who ultimately wound up with the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 30.

The Bears’ next slot is not until pick No. 53.

That is a long time to wait – 22 selections – with such a glaring need and a run on the position happening near the tail end of Round 1.

Poles pulled off a trade back, dropping just one spot after swapping picks with the Philadelphia Eagles and picking up a 2024 first-round pick in the process. He noted during his availability that other teams were looking to trade up to No. 9. But, perhaps in a show of just how highly he thought of Wright, Poles also indicated he was uncomfortable with just how far they would have to fall back in that or any other potential deals, so Wright it was with the 10th pick.

Ryan Poles Avoided Common Issue

To that point, ESPN NFL insider Dan Graziano reported that, during his conversations with league personnel, multiple teams had fewer first-round grades than he is used to hearing.

“Before the draft, I like to ask teams how many first-round grades have you given out this year, how many guys in your first round,” Graziano said on ESPN’s ‘Get Up’ on April 28. “This year we were hearing some 10s, and 11s, and 12s.”

Bears Asst. GM Sends Strong Message About Jalen Carter, Draft Plans

Now, though, Poles will have to get creative to fill at least one more key need.

Day 2 should bring plenty of surprises with the Bears also possessing picks Nos. 61 and 64. Perhaps Poles packages two or all three of those to make a move up for a coveted prospect.

Darnell Wright Sends Message to Justin Fields

Wright came across as very thoughtful in his answers but he made no bones about how confident he is in his ability.

“You see on tape, I’m big and I’m strong, Wright told reporters in his first press conference via Zoom. “But I don’t think people realize, once they really get to see some more of me, they’ll see how athletic I am. I can play on both sides if needed…I can play probably anywhere on the line. My athleticism will speak for itself, and I just want to get better and better with my technique.”

But his best line was about quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields tied for the league lead in sacks taken last season with 55 and has taken 91 sacks over his first two seasons.

“That’s my only plan.,” Wright said. “That’s what I’m there for…to keep him clean,” he said. “Amazing, amazing quarterback. And the things he does, we’re going to have a great team….protecting him, that’s my job.”

Justin Fields Reacts to Bears Selecting Darnell Wright No. 10 Overall

And just like that, the Chicago Bears finished their facelift of the offensive line, taking Tennesee offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. They had the No. 9 overall pick. But general manager Ryan Poles flipped it to the Philadelphia Eagles for No. 10 and a 2024 fourth-round pick.

Philadelphia took Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter, whom many had mocked to the Bears if he was available when they came up on the clock. Instead, they took the 6-foot-5, 333-pound Wright, the consensus top-rated right tackle in this class. And, for what it’s worth, quarterback Justin Fields certainly seems to be on board with the pick.

Bears’ Rookie Darnell Wright: Protecting Justin Fields ‘My Only Plan’

Given his plug-and-playability, Wright figures to round out a remade Bears offensive line that will feature Cody Whitehair back at guard and 2022’s starting right guard Teven Jenkins shift over to the left side as Nate Davis replaces him.

Asked about the responsibility of protecting Fields who led the league in sacks taken last season, Wright was very matter-of-fact in his response.

“That’s my only plan.,” Wright said in his first press conference via Zoom. “That’s what I’m there for…to keep him clean,” he said. “Amazing, amazing quarterback. And the things he does, we’re going to have a great team….protecting him, that’s my job.”

Wright also spoke on his relationship with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and offensive line coach Chris Morgan.

Darnell Wright Sounds Off on OC Luke Getsy

“I was at the Senior Bowl and Luke was…a part of it,” Wright remarked. “And it’s funny, he’s the offensive coordinator of the Bears. It’s like a full-circle moment a little bit. It’s crazy. It means a lot that I already have a relationship a little bit with that guy.”

Wright, a four-year starter in college, was voted the American team’s offensive line practice player of the week during his time down in Mobile.

“Bears GM Ryan Poles values size/length on the OL,” tweeted Albert Breer of The Monday Morning QB. “Passing on Peter Skoronski = surprising. But going w/Darnell Wright fits his history/background.”

It’s not just his work on the practice field, either.

Wright has been described as a plug-and-play option at right tackle where the Bears tried to get by with a combination of Larry Borom and Riley Reiff last season.

Wright revealed that he had a top-30 workout with the Bears but he also had a private workout with Morgan.

“Coach C-Mo, I knew he liked me a lot. I knew Poles liked me a lot. And you never know. You can try to say, ‘I think they’re going to pick me’. But, then again, Coach C-Mo, we just actually got off the phone. And he was saying, ‘Man, it was so hard not to just call you and tell you…we were going to pick you’.”

Morgans’ affinity didn’t stop him from putting Wright “through the wringer” in their private workout.

“They brought me in and he also came and he worked me out. He kicked my a***, I’m just going to be honest. He wanted to see what I was made of. It was hard but I didn’t quit,” he said detailing the frenetic pace of the workout. “I think he respected that.

“He just wanted to see if I would quit, and I just wouldn’t quit. …They’ll definitely see what you’re made of a little bit in that little session.”

So what did the Bears see that fans hope to next season?

Darnell Wright Points to His Tape

Wright compared the NFL Draft Combine process to speed dating and said that when the Bears gave him the choice between put-put golf and darts, he chose the latter.

But he’s more than content to point to his tape when asked about the type of player he is.

“You see on tape, I’m big and I’m strong. But I don’t think people realize, once they really get to see some more of me, they’ll see how athletic I am. I can play on both sides if needed…I can play probably anywhere on the line. My athleticism will speak for itself, and I just want to get better and better with my technique.”

“We talked about [what he can do better], I’m not going to tell you everything we talked about. But we talked about a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of stuff that I need to work on, and there’s a lot of stuff that I do really well. And I think it’s rare that you get to go somewhere that you really get to get coached by somebody that you really like, that you feel like could really take your game to the next level. And that’s what I feel like C-Mo can do for me…Coach C-Mo is going to be perfect for me.”

Wright said that Morgan told him that it would be hard but that he “never shies away from hard”.

Explosive EDGE Prospect Sounds Off on Bears’ Interest

The Chicago Bears could be ready to address the NFL’s worst pass rush in 2022 with a highly-touted EDGE rusher.

“Ahead of the #NFLDraft, @GeorgiaFootball EDGE Nolan Smith tells me the #Bears and #Eagles have been the two teams that have shown the most interest in taking him,” tweeted Heavy Sports NFL insider Matt Lombardo on April 26.

The 2023 NFL Draft just one day away. Most of the smoke around the Bears has been around offensive linemen. Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. and Tennessee’s Darnell Wright have been the most consistently linked in recent days. Defensive linemen were also a primary focus. To be specific, seemingly on the interior where Jalen Carter could be the pick at No. 9 overall as well.

Smith would be an interesting choice at No. 9. He is coming off an injury-shortened season that saw him record 3.0 sacks and 7.0 tackles for loss. He made eight appearances before suffering a torn pectoral muscle. Smith measured 6-foot-2 and weighed 239 pounds at the NFL combine. He tallied 9.5 sacks total over his previous three seasons. But made waves during the festivities in Indy.

“Smith posted a blazing-fast 4.39 40-yard dash,” noted Mark Schofield of SB Nation. ”When you added in the 41.5-inch vertical that he posted, it added up to a bit of NFL Combine history…Smith became the heaviest player in Combine history to post a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, along with a vertical of more than 40 inches.

“Both his vertical, and his 40-yard dash, were the fastest of the defensive linemen who tested on Thursday. He also posted the third-best broad jump of the group, which measured in at 10’8.”

Nolan Smith’s Fit in Bears’ Defense

He is built more like a 3-4 EDGE than one who puts his hand in the dirt like the Bears’ linemen do.

That could be more than enough cause to focus on another prospect. But Smith has also garnered some lofty comparisons to another freakish athlete that rushes the passer.

Dallas Cowboys star Micah Parsons.

And the NFL’s second-leading sack artist (tied) last season was Haason Reddick of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Smith compares favorably to Reddick who stands just 6-foot-1.

“He has always been viewed as a project who possesses rare speed and athleticism for an edge defender,” wrote Mitch Kaiser of Pro Football Focus. “The Georgia edge rusher developed more pass-rushing moves and became dominant against the run. We would love to see this progression continue into the NFL, as he has the physical tools to become an elite defensive player, whether he’s coming off the edge or slotted at linebacker.”

Teams also spend more time in sub-packages than base defense these days. This should allow for plenty of creativity in unleashing Smith were he to be the Bears’ choice.

Steelers Reached Out About Another Trade

The Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers came together on a deal bringing wide receiver Chase Claypool to Chicago. The cost was a second-round pick that lands in prime position at 32nd overall.

Note: There are only 31 picks in the first round this year. The Miami Dolphins forfeited their selection after it was found they had impermissible contact with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.

Claypool recorded just 140 yards on 14 receptions (29 targets) after being traded to Chicago.

“The playbook was completely different, the weather wasn’t the greatest. It was an adjustment but I think knowing those things we’re going to be just fine next year,” Claypool told Rachel Steinberg of Independent on April 26. “Sometimes it can take a shorter time or a longer time, but now I think having a full off-season with the Bears and then being able to play a full season with them is going to be a really great opportunity.”

The jury is still out on what looks like a win for the Steelers early on.

Now, according to ESPN draft insider Todd McShay, Pittsburgh has reached back out to Chicago and general manager Ryan Poles.

“I’ve heard Pittsburgh has contacted multiple teams, including the Bears (No. 9) and Titans (No. 11), about trading up for an offensive tackle,” reported McShay. “The Steelers need a long-term answer as protection for Kenny Pickett, and there are three potential cornerstone left tackles in this class who will be available in that range.”

The Bears have needs of their own along both lines. So whether or not they seek to make a deal remains to be seen. But that also means there are a number of directions they could go a still be successful.

Chicago Bears Draft Buzz: Expert Picks, Latest Rumors, Vegas Odds

The Chicago Bears go on the clock in the 2023 NFL Draft in just three days and the rumors are swirling. What they will do with the ninth overall pick remains unclear. But there has been plenty of smoke around several key rumors including one that bucks current conventional wisdom.

Bears Draft Rumors: Latest Buzz on Chicago’s Plan for No. 9 Pick

The Experts’ Expectations

NFL.com senior draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah appeared on ‘The Season with Peter Schrager’ on April 20. He delivered a rather surprising revelation.

“Somebody told me don’t sleep on Bijan Robinson with the Chicago Bears at No. 9,” Jeremiah said.

The Bears did let 2022 starter David Montgomery leave in free agency. Meanwhile, Robinson led the Big 12 with 1580 rushing yards and had 18 touchdowns for the Longhorns last season. He added another 314 yards and two scores catching 19 passes out of the backfield en route to winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top back. Robinson was also named a consensus All-American.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Robinson amassed 2707 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns over his last two seasons in Austin. But the Bears already have Khalil Herbert who proved to be serviceable as a fill-in starter last season. They also signed D’Onta Foreman away from the Carolina Panthers this offseason.

Still, it would be the highest a back was taken since Saquon Barkley was selected second overall by the New York Giants in 2018. None of the four runners taken in the first round since then have been taken before pick No. 24 and no back was drafted in the first round last year.

Jeremiah has also joined ESPN’s Louis Riddick in saying that Tennesee offensive tackle Darnell Wright is a good fit.

There is another option that is gaining steam, according to ESPN draft expert Todd McShay.

Of course, a trade back would almost certainly take the Bears out of the running for the current betting favorite to land in Chicago with the ninth overall pick.

The Sharp Money

Wright closed last week tied as the consensus market favorite to be the Bears’ pick at No. 9. The other option is unquestionably the draft’s most polarizing prospect in Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter.

Carter has been called the most talented prospect on the board but a string of questionable decisions – one of which involved the loss of two lives – has put red flags next to his name. At No. 9, it is a wonder if the Bears general manager Ryan Poles would be comfortable taking a player who seems like such a high risk.

The Bears have had Carter out for multiple visits, however, and the talent of the 6-foot-3, 300-plus pounder is undeniable.

Chicago needs help in enough places to make it nearly impossible to nail down even a specific position group even this close to the draft. To that point offensive linemen Peter Skoronski of Northwestern and Paris Johnson Jr. of Ohio State are also popular guesses.

Per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Poles has “zeroed in” on Justin Fields’ former college teammate.

“Knowing the scouting tree that Poles is coming from, I’d think it’ll be Paris,” an AFC exec tells Breer. “It’s the size, the length, just having a pass-blocking left tackle, it matches up.”

Breer notes that the Bears’ board is Johnson and Skoronski – presumably in that order — and if both are gone then Poles will turn to the defensive line. That could mean that, if all three are available, Carter is still third in his eyes.