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Why The Scouting Combine Is Ryan Poles’ Toughest Challenge So Far

Chicago Sports News

Ryan Poles reportedly won the Chicago Bears over with his organizational skills and attention to detail during his interviews for the GM job. Such things are vital for a man in that position. He must gather, retain, and process tons of information. All while sifting through the junk to find the hidden gems. Perhaps there is no bigger test this offseason for him than the upcoming scouting combine.

According to NFL.com, no fewer than 324 draft prospects were invited to this year’s event down in Indianapolis. This is why the league has to conduct everything across almost a full week from March 1st to March 7th. When fans think of the combine, they think of the obvious things—the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, three-cone drill, and so on. The timed and measurement tests help determine the athletic profile of every prospect. While an essential part of the process, those probably aren’t what executives, scouts and coaches look forward to the most.

Former GM Mike Tannenbaum explained on ESPN a year ago.

“The NFL scouting combine is traditionally a very significant piece to the pre-draft process, allowing NFL team coaches and staffs the chance to see prospects in person — often for the first time. And an integral yet underappreciated aspect of the combine is the 15-minute interview that takes place between teams and prospects.”

This is something that is often forgotten about the combine. It is sometimes the only chance a GM will have to meet specific prospects face-to-face. A chance to get a glimpse into how their minds work. Now 15 minutes isn’t a lot of time. A team can ask only so many things in such a small window. That is why GMs must be prepared. It can often come down to asking the right questions. If done correctly, a prospect can often expose himself. For better or worse.

“For starters, players who didn’t know their responsibilities on tape set themselves back. Lying about an off-field incident was also a serious red flag. (Each team has its own security department investigate prospects.)

But one that certainly jumped out was blaming either scheme or others for poor play. Honestly, that would eliminate a prospect from draft consideration for us.”

The overriding goal of these interviews should be obvious. Find out how much a player truly loves football. Is it his end-all-be-all or merely one avenue he views of making money? Poles has said he wants guys that love the game. Eberflus echoed those sentiments as well. Likely because those two men share similar feelings. It takes a genuine passion for the game to excel at this level.

Ryan Poles’ grasp of psychology will be tested

His ability to interview well for every GM job he went after offers hope that he understands how to conduct them efficiently. There is no denying the 36-year old is a man with a clear vision. He knows the type of team he wants to construct. When that is the case, it becomes easier to identify the players necessary. The tricky part is sifting through practiced answers and getting prospects out of their comfort zone.

It isn’t easy. They’re all on guard. They know one bad answer can have disastrous consequences on their draft stock. Still, Ryan Poles is responsible to the Bears to ask those hard questions. If he only gets 15 minutes, he must make the most of them. There are plenty of names going into this week that fit what the Bears want to do on the field. Now it is about separating the quality from the quantity.

The fun is about to begin.

Odds are good that certain names will emerge as having met with the Bears in the coming days. While that alone doesn’t determine intrigue, it should offer an idea of where Poles is casting his net. The personalities he’s looking at.

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