Bears hit the road as NFL Draft scouting is set to begin in earnest

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(670 The Score) Bears general manager Ryan Poles hardly had time to settle in at Halas Hall after being introduced in his new position one year ago Tuesday. Afterward, he soon hopped on a flight south to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama to begin a whirlwind offseason.

Poles and his Bears brass are heading back out on the road this week with a foundation in place and the hopes of significant improvement to come in 2023. With the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game taking place this week, Chicago’s scouting team is ready to continue its evaluations as the NFL Draft looms in late April.

“I know that we’re in a healthier situation now than we were before, and we’re excited about where we’re going,” Poles said earlier in January as he reflected on his first year as Bears general manager.

The Bears will have a contingent at both the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, the latter of which will be played Thursday night in Las Vegas. Practices for the Senior Bowl begin Tuesday and will continue throughout the week before the game is played Saturday.

Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is serving as head coach of the American team at the Senior Bowl and will be joined by Chicago linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi, assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts and assistant special teams coach Carlos Polk.

“It is a privilege to be able to work alongside my peers from around the league and to be able to lead this special group of men that are the future of the NFL,” Getsy said.

In leading a Senior Bowl team, Getsy and the Bears’ assistant coaches – in addition to Poles and their scouts in Mobile – will get a first-hand look at prospects and a detailed perspective. The Bears last coached in the Senior Bowl in 2017, with then-coach John Fox and his staff leading a team through that week.

The Bears drafted just one player from that Senior Bowl in 2017 in offensive lineman Jordan Morgan, a fifth-round pick who never played a snap for the team. In hindsight, that week is infamously remembered for the Bears passing in the draft on future standouts who participated in that Senior Bowl, including receiver Cooper Kupp, pass rusher Haason Reddick and defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi.

In 2022, the Bears selected four players from the Senior Bowl – receiver Velus Jones Jr. (third round), offensive tackle Braxton Jones (fifth round), defensive end Dominique Robinson (fifth round) and guard Ja’Tyre Carter (sixth round).

Poles and the Bears will have another important week at the end of February as the NFL Combine is held in Indianapolis. It will be an opportunity to evaluate, interview and medically assess the prospects on hand. For Poles, that will also serve as a key opportunity to get a read on the free-agent market and begin conversations in earnest about potentially trading the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

College pro days will begin March 7 and continue leading up to the NFL Draft, which will begin on April 27 in Kansas City.

The Bears own the top overall pick and eight selections in total for the draft.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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