Bears GM Ryan Poles Reveals He Almost Did ‘Something Crazy’ in Round 1 of Draft

Ryan Poles

Getty General manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears admitted he almost traded up in Round 1.

The Chicago Bears didn’t make any trades during Day 1 of the 2024 draft — but according to general manager Ryan Poles, he considered moving up from No. 9 to snag the receiver that ultimately fell to the team anyway in Rome Odunze.

After selecting quarterback Caleb Williams first overall, many thought the Bears would trade down from nine, including The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, who wrote on X that Chicago was “very open for business” with its second pick in the draft.

That didn’t happen. If fact, after Round 1 was over, Poles revealed he almost traded up to draft Odunze, but said Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham convinced him not to.

“Ian and I sequence the board out all the way across, and Rome was extremely high on that list,” Poles said. “I was nervous that he wasn’t going to be there at nine. Our simulations, it was about a 50-50 shot he was going to be there. But as it started to unfold, Ian had to hold me back to not trade up and do something crazy to get him. But it ended up working out really well.”

Atlanta Falcons’ Selection of QB Michael Penix Jr. Helped Bears Avoid Trading Up for Rome Odunze

Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze is a grand slam for the Bears.

Incredible night for Chicago.

The New York Giants were a big question mark at pick No. 6. Many felt New York could draft a QB, but the Giants nabbed former LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers instead.

After the Tennessee Titans selected former Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham at No. 7 overall, Poles says the Bears “started feeling pretty good that [Odunze] might make it.” Chicago was also aided in landing Odunze when the Atlanta Falcons elected to draft QB Michael Penix Jr., which was the biggest shock of Round 1.

Odunze falling to nine was fortuitous for the Bears, who will now have one of the NFL’s most formidable receiving corps with the rookie and veterans DJ Moore and Keenan Allen. Both Moore and Allen had over 1,000 yards receiving last season, and with Odunze in the mix, Chicago’s offense is going to be difficult for opposing defenses to plan for.

Odunze’s 1,640 receiving yards led the NCAA last year, and the former Washington Huskies wideout was also first in deep catches (23) and deep yardage gained (783 yards), per PFF. He was also first in contested catches (21) and after hauling in 20 touchdowns over the last two seasons, Odunze should be an immediate red zone threat for the Bears.

More From Bears GM Ryan Poles

Based on his comments after Day 1 of the draft, Poles is pleased as punch with how things worked out.

“Man, I don’t know where to start with that guy. First of all, a human being, what a great guy,” Poles said about Odunze. “Work ethic, just blue collar in the way he goes about things. But as a receiver, he can line up anywhere, inside, outside. You love his ability to finish in contested situations. Plays strong, plays big, run after catch is very good.”

“He’s a punt returner as well,” Poles added. “The kid’s just put time in and he got better and better every single year, and he’s a winner. He can impact the game at any moment. If you’re at quarterback, and you’re in doubt, you want to just go give a guy an opportunity to go finish, he’s your guy. He’s done that consistently.”

If Odunze can pick up where he left off in college, the Bears may be in for an exciting season.

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