Arkush: Decision to trade No. 1 overall pick should be an easy one for Bears GM Poles

  • Hub Arkush says it's a no-brainer as to whether the Bears should deal their No. 1 draft pick or not. The Bears list of needs is long and GM Ryan Poles should deal away for as many picks as possible.

    Hub Arkush says it's a no-brainer as to whether the Bears should deal their No. 1 draft pick or not. The Bears list of needs is long and GM Ryan Poles should deal away for as many picks as possible. Associated press

Updated 1/26/2023 12:00 PM

The Bears took care of their most important decision in decades last week when Kevin Warren was introduced as the franchise's next president and CEO.

Next up -- and almost equally important -- is what to do with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The Bears own it -- and now they have to decide how to use it before Warren even officially gets to work in his new job.


Of course, the pick is really not Warren's problem.

When he becomes head of the Bears, Warren's focus will be on the business side of the operation. His only real involvement with the football side will be to decide if he has the right people running it.

It would be one of the biggest upsets in Bears' history if those two people aren't general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus.

While Poles will have the final say over what the team does with the pick, he would be foolish not to listen long and hard to Eberflus' opinions, and it's a really safe bet that both will be really short on sleep the next month or three. Their futures could very well be decided by what they do with the No. 1 pick.

Rather than make you wait, I'll just tell you right now: The Bears should trade the pick.

In order to compete for a Super Bowl, the Bears are going to need a franchise quarterback, at least two more first-rate wide receivers, probably at least two more starting offensive linemen, maybe a top-end running back, definitely at least two more first-rate pass rushers and legitimate talent upgrades at linebacker and safety.

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Quarterback is the biggest dilemma as Justin Fields is both a special talent and one of the more overrated players in the league right now.

Fields is one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL -- possibly even the best -- and that is obviously a good thing. He also has very good size and speed, along with a solid work ethic, and he appears to bring strong leadership.

The problem is Fields has come up short to date in the most important area. He has plenty of arm strength -- a critical tool that can't be grown or taught -- but he has not displayed the accuracy needed, read the field well enough or displayed the passing instincts that only the special QBs have. Those are rarely taught as well.

In 25 starts over the last two seasons, Fields' Bears are 5-20. Most concerning, he has never thrown for 300 yards, and has only gone over 200 six times. Sure, some of that is on the shortcomings at receiver and on the offensive line, but Fields is not yet even an average NFL passer.

For decades, conventional wisdom has been the best way to find your franchise quarterback is with the first overall pick in the draft, but it's not the only way, and more players chosen first overall do fail than succeed.


Even more complicating to the Bears' dilemma is it's too early to quit on Fields. And, while there will be at least three -- maybe even four -- quarterbacks taken in the first round this year, none look like the first overall pick and none are clearly better options than Fields.

The Bears traded two first-round picks, a fourth rounder and a fifth rounder for the 11th pick to draft Fields. The No. 1 overall pick would yield a lot more than that.

We can argue the Bears greatest need is a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher, which happens to be the deepest position in this year's first round. Wide receiver -- the team's second greatest need -- is also very strong.

When you throw in the mountain of talent the Bears can add by trading the No. 1 pick -- in addition to the wealth already available to them with the most cap space in the league to spend in free agency -- you are left with what looks like a pretty easy choice.

Keep the No. 1 pick and take a big risk at getting one special player? Or trade it and stockpile enough wealth to go from the worst team in the league to a contender in one or two seasons?

Even if Fields isn't the answer -- and while I'm not ready to quit yet, I fear he may not be -- the trade gives you plenty of wealth to invest in his replacement.

Trading the No. 1 pick seems like a pretty easy call to me.

The biggest risk is do you have the right GM to do the job? But that ship appears to have already sailed.

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