Hub Arkush: Trade or stay? Ryan Poles in good spot for either outcome at No. 9

Bears GM likely to find multiple top prospects still available

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles on the field before a game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, in Chicago.

Most of the focus around the Bears these days is which player will they take with the ninth overall pick in next week’s draft.

But, “Is our focus in the right place,” might be the better question.

General manager Ryan Poles already has traded the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to end up at No. 9. Most experts agree Poles made a really nice trade. Does that increase the odds he would be willing to trade down again and acquire even more chances to accumulate additional talent?

We know Poles builds his draft board by classifying players as being either blue, red, gold, orange or gray prospects. I can’t say how he classifies all five colors and the value he places on each group, but I do know that anyone he classifies as a blue player he believes can become a star in the league. And I have reason to believe that Poles had eight players classified as blues coming out of the scouting combine.

I am sure those grades have adjusted and changed a bit since late February as teams have gone deep into their scouting, but it is likely that today Poles still has at least six or seven blues – and quite possibly 9, 10 or 11 – and what we know for sure is all 32 NFL teams’ lists are different.

This is all significant because we can say with near certainty there will be at least one of Poles’ blues still on the board – and possibly two, three or even four – when the Bears pick at No. 9. That will have a serious impact on whether he trades down again, or possibly even feels the need to try to trade up.

My list of the top 30 prospects available in this draft is neither the same nor as accurate as Poles’, but it is not likely radically different, either.

This is not a mock draft. It is the best prospects available regardless of position. I would put nine of the top 13 on my list in the blue category. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Joey Porter Jr. could be stars, I am just not confident they will be.

  1. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
  2. Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama
  3. Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech
  4. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
  5. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
  6. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
  7. C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
  8. Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
  9. Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
  10. Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
  11. Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
  12. Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
  13. Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
  14. Jordan Addison, WR, USC
  15. Peter Skoronski, OT/OG, Northwestern
  16. Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
  17. Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa
  18. Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
  19. Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
  20. Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
  21. Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson
  22. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
  23. Brian Branch, S, Alabama
  24. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
  25. Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech
  26. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
  27. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
  28. Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
  29. Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
  30. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Edge, Kansas State

My best guess is Poles’ red prospects are players he believes can become excellent NFL players that may end up going to a couple of Pro Bowls. If he comes out of this draft with a blue and two reds, I suspect he would be very happy.

I doubt very seriously the Bears will trade up in the first round. It would cost valuable assets they worked hard to acquire. Plus, it’s an unnecessary risk when they already will get a crack at a blue prospect at No. 9.

But if the Bears were to trade down to no lower than the 15th or 16th and also net late second- and late third-round picks, which is in the ballpark of the No. 9 pick’s value, they could seriously increase Poles’ chances of landing a blue and two reds – if a blue is still sitting there in the middle of the first round.

My best guess is there will be a player too good to pass at No. 9, but I certainly won’t be disappointed if Poles decides to take another run at multiple studs.

Hub Arkush is the senior Bears analyst for Shaw Media and

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

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