More than two months remain to go before the NFL draft. Yet it sure sounds like everybody believes the Chicago Bears have made up their minds about their plans. Every notable insider, from Adam Schefter to Tom Pelissero, has indicated from what they’ve heard that most people around the league think GM Ryan Poles will stay put at #1 overall and select a quarterback. Caleb Williams is the heavy favorite to be that choice. It makes sense. He’s been the projected top pick in this draft for two years. He’s drawing comparisons to Patrick Mahomes. Everything points in that direction.
That in itself should give people pause. Let’s remember who is running the show. Poles may come across as straightforward in interviews, but his ability to enact subterfuge isn’t talked about enough. His best disinformation campaign took place last year. Leading up to the 2023 draft, everybody was convinced the Bears would take Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Projections had him falling to #9, and all the buzz around the league was that he wouldn’t get past Chicago.
Mike Greenberg (ESPN)
“I do. I think he’s going to be there. I’m telling you what the buzz is everywhere here. All of the buzz is that Jalen Carter is going nine to Chicago.”
Matt Miller (ESPN)
“The best intel I have on the Bears? I’ve heard defensive tackle Jalen Carter (Georgia) won’t fall past their pick at No. 9.”
Dane Brugler (The Athletic)
Bill Zimmerman (Windy City Gridiron)
Polled NFL execs/scouts (ESPN)
“When asked to predict Carter’s landing spot, more than 10 scouts and execs polled believed he would be drafted at No. 5 (Seattle Seahawks) or No. 9 (Chicago Bears).”
Then, the draft arrived. Carter fell to #9 as predicted. To the shock of many, Chicago traded that spot to Philadelphia in exchange for the #10 pick and a 4th round pick in 2024. It had all been a misdirection meant to steer people away from Poles’ actual target: Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright.
Poles might be actively feeding the Caleb Williams rumors.
The question many have is why? Answering that is simple. If teams around the league think the Bears are fully prepared to draft Williams at #1, it means they will have to make more extensive trade offers to convince them otherwise. Poles had the Eagles so spooked about Carter that they offered a 4th round pick for basically nothing. Imagine what he might get from QB-desperate teams for what they consider one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of college football in years.
Now, let’s be clear. The Bears may indeed plan to select Caleb Williams #1 overall. However, let’s also remember it is February. The Bears haven’t even met with the top quarterback prospects yet. There is no way they would have made a determination on such a course this early. Not without ensuring Williams had the mental faculties they were seeking in that position. For the smoke to be this thick so early in the process, it is hard not to feel like Poles is the one orchestrating it.