Bears only have eyes for Caleb Williams at No. 1; could they go defensive tackle next?

Ryan Poles smiled — almost laughed — as he answered a question about whether the Chicago Bears were set on taking USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the first pick in the NFL Draft.

“I think everyone’s got to tune in on Thursday to watch and figure out,” the Bears general manager said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “But I feel really good about our process and where we are and where we’re headed. So we know what we’re going to do, but everyone is going to have to wait until Thursday to go there.”

Of course, everyone knows where this is going. Poles was just having some fun. There’s no point in playing coy. There’s no point in lying. Poles has spoken openly about Williams — and that continued on Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways from Poles and assistant general manager Ian Cunningham’s annual pre-draft news conference.

1. The Bears hosted only one quarterback on a pre-draft visit to Halas Hall

That would be Williams.

The Bears did have large contingents at the pro days for Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy. But the team has been locked on Williams for some time now. Instead, the Bears brought in wide receivers, centers, tight ends and pass rushers.

Visiting a team is only one part of the pre-draft process, too. Poles said other players who are high on the Bears’ draft board didn’t visit Halas Hall.

“The different prospects, the journey to collect all the information is different for everyone,” Poles said. “Our networks in the building know the player inside and out (and) that we really, really trust. You had the combine. There’s different kinds of touchpoints. You don’t have to necessarily bring everyone in on a visit.”



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2. The feedback on Williams from current Bears players was encouraging

It’s common for teams to have dinner with draft prospects. But the Bears added a wrinkle for Williams’ visit. He had dinner with tight end Cole Kmet, linebacker T.J. Edwards and receiver DJ Moore. Poles sat in another room. Williams also met with Bears coaches on his visit.

“Really intelligent guy,” Poles said of the feedback. “(Williams) came across as a really good teammate, easy to talk to, down to earth.

“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. I think the biggest thing is: does he fit in our culture and what we’re trying to do? And all signs were that he does, so that was positive.”

Poles didn’t say it, but having the players meet Williams before the draft is also a good move after trading quarterback Justin Fields.

“As much as I can, I want those guys (to be) a part of the process of building this team,” Poles said. “I trust their feedback and I think that chemistry is really important, so that’s why we did that.”



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3. Poles embraces Williams’ talk of winning 8 titles and surpassing Tom Brady

Williams recently said as much on “The Pivot Podcast” with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor.

“I love it,” Poles said. “I think we all should have huge goals. 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. If everything else is in line underneath that, that gets me excited.”



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4. Selecting a defensive tackle early in the draft is definitely on the table

That could be Texas’ Byron Murphy with the ninth selection.

Poles said that he sees a high-end interior pass rusher — who would be a three-technique tackle in coach Matt Eberflus’ defense — as a multiplier.

“Generally speaking, I would say the inside guy has the shortest path to the quarterback,” Poles said. “It changes everything.”

Poles also said that interior pass rush is “probably a preference when you have an outside guy.” The Bears defense already has defensive end Montez Sweat.

“It makes it really difficult to scheme up, so …” Poles said.

So Murphy?

5. The Bears are OK with only having four selections in this year’s draft

Or so Poles said again. But this time the strength of the Bears’ roster was highlighted. It doesn’t have as many concerns as it did when Poles took over two years ago.

“Yeah, things shift and change as you go along,” Poles said. “It’s going to be hard to make this team now. It’s going be really hard to make this team. That doesn’t mean you don’t want more shots later. We’ll always welcome a lot of picks. But it doesn’t force you to panic about the situation we’re in right now with how many picks we have.”

This year’s overall talent pool is also said to be thin because of the lack of underclassmen. Next year could be different. The Bears have nine picks in 2025, including two in the second round.

“I think we both feel comfortable with how the board set based off of the draft class,” Cunningham said. “Each year is different, right? This year, I think, there were 58 juniors that declared. … Each year is different. So we kind of have to work in the constructs of this year with what we have given to us.”

And right now, the Bears’ draft starts with two top-10 picks.

(Photo: David Crane / MediaNews Group / Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

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