A major criticism this offseason for the Chicago Bears was that they didn’t really get any weapons for Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense when Ryan Poles and the front office staff drafted two defensive backs with their first two picks in the draft.
The short story on why those two picks were warranted goes as such: Reaching for a receiver just to get a receiver is a bad draft strategy. Drafting two seemingly lock-down defensive backs does help the offense, as the offense won’t be asked to play from behind every game, theoretically.
However, something being spewed online lately is, “How could the Bears not have drafted George Pickens?”
George Pickens was a risk that the Chicago Bears weren’t willing to take
With the red flags surrounding George Pickens heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears clearly weren’t willing to take the risk.
Ryan Poles came into a genuinely clean slate with expectations that he couldn’t blow this draft. There’s been years and years of mediocrity for the Chicago Bears– at least in terms of how the team has been run. And Ryan Poles didn’t want to become another statistic in a long run of GMs for the Chicago Bears.
With the Bears having a limited amount of draft picks going into the draft, having one of the picks be George Pickens would rely on him being what he was advertised as before his ACL tear.
Not only did Pickens play in just one game all of 2021, but there were character flaws on Pickens going into the draft.
With all that said, however, George Pickens always had an incredibly high ceiling.
The plays Pickens made at Georgia proved that, however, there was thought that the red flags outweighed the potential.
The NFL is a completely different beast than college, so it’s understandable why Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears passed on George Pickens. Had Poles drafted Pickens, he’d essentially be placing his job security in the hands of a high-ceiling prospect with character flaws and a recovering ACL.
And for a team as young as the Chicago Bears — both on the roster and running the team — there would be a lot more scrutiny towards the Bears if he didn’t work out, rather than if he did.
Now, if the Bears were able to see into the future and see that Pickens would continue his college excellence into training camp and the preseason, it’s still uncertain that the Chicago Bears would bring him in.
Success in training camp and the preseason is important, but it doesn’t mean squat if that doesn’t translate to the regular season or postseason.
If he gets hurt in the regular season — specifically if he retears the ACL he tore — that’d be a poor look for Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears, too. Sure, injuries are hard to avoid, but if it’s a re-injury, that’s something a team can see and avoid by not drafting them.
Sure, this can sound like a spin zone, but it’s genuinely a true statement.
George Pickens was a toss-up, which is why he dropped to the No. 52 pick. There was a debate on whether Pickens would even make it to pick No. 39, so the fact that he dropped almost double the original projection is telling.
All-in-all, if George Pickens turns out to be an All-Pro receiver, it’ll sting, but it’s not something that should be seen as a regret. People can wish all they want that George Pickens was on the Chicago Bears, but the fact of the matter is, he was a gamble that the Bears’ front office staff wasn’t willing to make.