2023 NFL Combine: Bears weigh all options with No. 1; Coaches play darts, putt-putt with prospects

Instead of asking weird questions, the Chicago Bears found another way to learn more about their prospects from the 2023 NFL combine. Bears general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus said Chicago coaches are coming into darts and putt-putt with equal prospects.

“We talked before we got here,” Poles said NFL Network, “and Flus was like, ‘What can we do to loosen up the guys a little bit and see if they have a little competitiveness?’ So we decided to play darts and putt-putt.”

How did the coaches fare against the prospects?

“There were some interesting results,” said Poles.

“Coaches aren’t great at it,” added Eberflus. “The players are much better than the coaches, that’s for sure.”

In addition to darts and putt-putt with prospects, the bears are also weighing their options for potentially trading the #1 overall pick.

“We will weigh all options,” said Poles. “The beauty of combining is that we sit down and combine the film and the reviews that we did last fall and then combine it with the personalities, the makeup and the football intelligence. It’s been an amazing process. Some of the guys at the top of the board talk about their film, let them choke back out and teach us what they’ve been taught and how smoothly it comes from a lot of them.

“We have to weigh those options. It’s not an easy decision at all.”

If given the choice, the Bears could be inclined to pick former Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. who said CBS Sports HQ from the Combine that “it would be a blessing” to be the first player selected in the upcoming draft. He also answered questions about his diminished production last year after having 17 sacks and over 100 tackles as a sophomore.

“When you understand and look at football, it’s more than what you see on the sheet,” Anderson said. “There are different ways to influence the quarterback. Getting him off his seat, getting him to throw interceptions, and helping other people get sacks. Forcing and moving him around the bag. Those are all things you do as an elite rusher; it’s more than just getting sacks.

“They say once you get a sack they come in bundles. That’s one thing I try not to worry about. As long as I’m influencing the quarterback in some way…I know I’m doing my job.”

The Bears have many needs, but the quarterback is not one of them. Justin Fields, the 11th pick overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, has made steady progress over his first two seasons. Last year, despite being sacked 55 times in the league, Fields made history by having the second-highest rushing total of any quarterback in league history in a single season. He also posted a league-high 7.1 yards per carry.

“We really feel, Ryan and I, that he took a big step in the last year,” Eberflus said of Fields. “He did a really good job running the offense … and midway through the year he really started to take off. We are very happy about it.”

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