Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles appears to have had an extremely busy week.
With Week 1 of the 2023 NCAA college football season officially in the books, Poles,
who has a strong scouting background, attended at least four games in person according to Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic. But which players did he have his eye on?
On Saturday, September 2, the Bears GM was checking out the East Carolina vs Michigan game at noon (Eastern Standard Time) in addition to the North Carolina vs. South Carolina rivalry matchup later that evening.
On Sunday, September 3, Poles checked out the LSU-Florida State game, followed by the Clemson vs. Duke clash on September 4, where he was one of three NFL GMs in attendance, per ESPN’s Jordan Reid.
One thing the above games all had in common was that each showcased a playmaking young quarterback, which left Bears fans and analysts alike wondering if that’s the position Poles was monitoring.
Poles Saw Elite QB Talent in Every Game
Busy weekend for Bears GM Ryan Poles:
Saturday: East Carolina/Michigan, followed by North Carolina/South Carolina.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) September 5, 2023
Here’s a look at what Poles saw from the top collegiate quarterbacks in the four games he attended:
North Carolina’s Drake Maye had an up and down game against the Gamecocks, but he walked away with the ‘W’ in the end. Maye went 24-of-32 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions (94.4 passer rating). Considering Maye tossed seven interceptions in 14 games last year, that may be something to watch.
Senior quarterback Jordan Travis (6’1″, 212 pounds) of Florida State played lights out against LSU, going 23-of-31 for 342 yards, throwing four touchdowns and an interception (135.0 passer rating). FSU edge rusher Jared Verse, a potential top 15 pick next year, was likely also being watched closely by Poles.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (6’3″, 202 pounds) went 26-of-31 for 280 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions (136.6 passer rating) in the Wolverines’ rout of East Carolina.
Against Clemson, 6-foot-4, 205-pound Duke QB Riley Leonard completed 17-of-33 passes for 175 yards, also rushing for 98 yards and a score on eight carries (96.1 passer rating). Leonard is thought to be a top-5 prospect at the position.
Poles could have also been there specifically to get a good look at Clemson linebackers Barrett Carter and Jeremiah Trotter Jr., but fans and analysts alike were equally intrigued and curious about who the Bears GM was eyeing.
Interesting that Ryan Poles chose this game to travel to. 🤔 https://t.co/HiqvIreZ0Q
— EJ Snyder (@FootballEJ) September 5, 2023
Of course, most assumed Poles was watching Leonard:
Poles scouting Riley Leonard? https://t.co/xNlv7JeInp
— Albaro (@martinez3507) September 5, 2023
But surely, the Bears GM had his eye on playmakers from both teams.
Ryan Poles is currently in attendance of the Clemson/Duke game 👀
Clemson 2024 draft prospects are:
LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr
LB Barrett Carter
Safety Andrew Mukuba
CB Nate Wiggins
DT Tyler Davis
DT Ruke Orhorhoro
RB Will Shipley
WR Beaux Collins
TE Jake Briningstool
And more 🔥 pic.twitter.com/oavZOoYIbB
— DeeksView (@DeeksViewOG) September 5, 2023
It’s All Up to QB Justin Fields
The excitement in Chicago amongst #DaBears fans is real… they are ready for a monster year from Justin Fields, and massive improvements on both sides of the football.
Plus, shoutout to a certain QB from the pride of @ShepherdU… @ChicagoBears @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/ObeBRJIZgP
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) August 30, 2023
The Bears have two picks in the first round of the draft next year, and how quarterback Justin Fields plays will determine how Poles uses them.
If Fields can take the next step as a passer and improve his decision-making, he’ll likely be the guy in Chicago for years to come, while also possibly scoring an extension in the offseason. If Fields struggles, though, Poles will be after a new signal-caller.
Poles was asked whether he has discussed his expectations for the upcoming season with Fields, and the Bears GM says he has, but he’s leaving the details up to head coach Matt Eberflus, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko.
“Really, I trust in Luke and Andrew Janocko and Flus right now,” Poles said. “He spends most of his time with the coaches and they put their plan together and their goals in terms of getting better and taking that next step. So as a staff, we talk about what we need to see. But they’ve had those conversations and he kind of knows what’s expected of him.”
The Bears kick their 2023 campaign off against longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers, who Fields has yet to beat. Finally getting over that hump and beating Green Bay would be a great way to endear himself.
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