Hub Arkush: Is the 2022 draft Ryan Poles’ first big game or just a warm-up act?

Chicago Bears new general manager Ryan Poles speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.

LAKE FOREST – It isn’t usually hard to guess what general managers might be shopping for as most develop traits and styles over the years that give us an inkling of how they will go about the process.

But when asked Tuesday at Halas Hall how much different this draft will be for him, Bears GM Ryan Poles answered with a sly grin and hearty chuckle.

“Yeah, it’s going to be different,” he said.

That’s because well beyond the 13 drafts he participated in Kansas City, this will be his very first draft having to own the last word and ultimate responsibility for every move.

And that is why it’s impossible to predict how he will do, and beyond that, what his traits and style will be.

Former GM Ryan Pace often treated draft choices like Monopoly money and spent them freely, repeatedly trading away multiple picks to claim players he coveted.

While Poles continues to refuse to admit he is rebuilding, he was clear Tuesday he will be trying to trade down to accumulate more picks.

“It’s definitely a challenge,” Poles said. “But at the same time that’s why I was hired, that’s why our group is doing what we do, [it’s] to take what we have and construct the best roster we can, and have the best draft we can.

“I do think we will be in the business, depending on where it is and what it looks like, in moving back and trying to create more (draft capital). That’s just what we’ve been handed and we’re going to maximize that. But it’s got to be in the right area.”

Why Poles is so reluctant to use the word “rebuild” is murky saying Tuesday, “the rebuild thing is super sensitive.”

“You know actually late night with the wife, you’re watching TV, you get like the home network where there are some rooms that are good,” Poles said. “You might have to re-do some countertops over here, some fresh paint over there.

“Some rooms are good. You don’t need to touch them. It’s kind of the thought process there. That’s not a rebuild either.”

While Poles gets an A for effort and another one for clever, here’s the problem with that analogy.

Other than perhaps the running back room, how many position rooms on the Bears will be good with just a coat of paint or a new countertop?

There is hope for the quarterback room, but while every other position may actually already have some paint and countertops, all are in need of a new foundation. And that is definitely a rebuild.

Poles also acknowledged the Bears will be in the hunt for more priority undrafted rookie free agents.

“We’re prepared for the bottom of the board and late draft, as well as free agency,” he said.

Net, net, this will be Ryan Poles honeymoon draft. Even if he won’t admit it, we all should.

Perhaps our visit was just a rope-a-dope to be heard by the rest of the league to set up a big move up for a special talent?

Every general manager goes into every draft looking for Tom Brady with every pick, but with a full complement of picks and an ungodly amount of cap space to go luxury shopping next spring, it feels like Poles is setting us up to be satisfied with a haul of countertops and fresh paint so we’re ready for next year’s big-game hunting to finish the job for the 2023 season.

That’s when he’ll face his first real judgment and accountability, leaving this draft feeling more like the exhibition season.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and