Bears GM Ryan Poles wanted his veterans to get to know Caleb Williams: ‘I trust their feedback’

Several Bears veterans sat down with Caleb Williams when he was in Chicago

USC quarterback Caleb Williams throws during the first half against UCLA in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

LAKE FOREST – Nobody from the league has told Ryan Poles to stay quiet, but the Bears’ general manager isn’t yet saying who he plans to select with the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Thursday night.

“We know what we’re going to do,” Poles said.

He and everybody else in Chicago.

The Bears have been linked to USC quarterback Caleb Williams for months, and those links only grew stronger when the Bears earned the No. 1 overall draft pick in January.

The Bears hosted only one quarterback at Halas Hall throughout the three-month draft journey, and that was Williams. Poles, speaking Tuesday at Halas Hall ahead of the draft, wouldn’t say what he plans to do, but the smile on his face told the story.

“Let us have some excitement on Thursday, right?” Poles said with a wide grin.

Williams will be in attendance at the draft Thursday night. He’s one of 13 potential first-round picks who will be in Detroit.

The Bears have done their due diligence on the other quarterbacks in this draft – North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, among others. But all the time they’ve spent with Williams is the clear indicator of what they will do Thursday.

Williams met with the team at the combine, went to dinner with Poles before his USC pro day in March and visited with the team at Halas Hall earlier this month. During his visit to Chicago, Williams had dinner not with the GM or the head coach, but with a collection of veteran players on the roster. Tight end Cole Kmet, receiver DJ Moore and linebacker TJ Edwards reportedly were among the players present.

“I trust their feedback,” Poles said of the veterans. “And I think that chemistry is really important, so that’s why we did that.”

Edwards, who spoke Tuesday after earning the team’s Brian Piccolo Award, tried to downplay the importance of dinner, noting it was “just a dinner.”

“When I was a rookie my head was just spinning, just trying to figure out the playbook and things like that,” Edwards said. “I know there’s a lot of variables that go into that. I’m sure it can’t hurt.”

Poles said he wasn’t in the room when the players had dinner with Williams. But Poles has spent plenty of time with Williams throughout this process.

“[He’s a] really intelligent guy,” Poles said. “He came across as a really good teammate. Easy to talk to, down to earth. You know, we’ve talked through this process about the whole Hollywood thing. He’s all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team. That’s the No. 1 thing for him on top of being successful.”

[Caleb Williams] came across as a really good teammate. Easy to talk to, down to earth.”

—  Ryan Poles, Bears general manager

Bears fans will have to wait a bit for the official word about their new franchise quarterback, but everything seems to be full steam ahead with Williams.

The QB himself hasn’t been shy about wanting to accomplish big things. Since he was a kid, he wanted to win the Heisman Trophy and become the No. 1 overall draft pick. Winning the Super Bowl is another milestone on that list, but Williams doesn’t want just one. In a podcast appearance this week, Williams said he’s going after Tom Brady’s record seven Super Bowls. Williams wants eight.

Poles on Tuesday said he loves that attitude in the QB.

“We all should have huge goals,” Poles said. “We have huge goals here – win multiple championships. And that’s what we shoot for. You’re more intentional when you have these goals, you have to live a certain way, you have to practice a certain way, you have to go about your business a certain way in order to accomplish those.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.