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Chicago Bears Q&A: Who would you take at No. 9 — Jalen Carter or Paris Johnson? What will Kevin Warren add as he starts his new role?

The NFL draft is 15 days away, and the Chicago Bears could go in a number of directions with the No. 9 pick. Meanwhile, Monday marks the first official day on the job for new Bears President Kevin Warren.

The Tribune’s Brad Biggs reaches into his weekly Bears mailbag to tackle questions on these two topics and more.

If Jalen Carter and Paris Johnson are both there at No. 9, who do you see Ryan Poles taking? — @ryyzoh

That’s an impossible question to answer without knowing how the Bears felt about Carter, the talented defensive tackle from Georgia, after his visit to Halas Hall earlier this month. There were ample questions about Carter’s makeup before his involvement in a road-racing incident in January that resulted in the deaths of a college teammate and a Georgia support staff member, who was driving the car that crashed. Carter, who did not share any details of this issue when he met with teams at the scouting combine, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing in mid-March in an effort to get the matter behind him as quickly as possible. More questions popped up when Carter showed up for Georgia’s pro day out of shape.

Strictly on tape, some evaluators believe Carter is the best player in this draft. Character is a factor for every draft pick, and it’s a huge one for a first-round pick and perhaps even larger for the first first-round pick of Poles’ tenure. The last thing he wants to do is bust on a pick who fizzles out with below-par character when there were ample warning signs in advance. But if the Bears are confident in the answers they received from Carter and trust their background work, he could be the perfect pick at No. 9, especially considering the current state of the defensive line.

If Carter checks out for the Bears, I have a hard time believing they would pass on him — if he makes it through the first eight picks. That’s an “if” I don’t think we’ll have an answer to for a while. I would add that Tyree Wilson of Texas Tech could be very intriguing at No. 9 if he’s available because the Bears are completely lacking in edge rushers. But both Carter and Wilson could come off the board in the first eight picks.

With the Kevin Warren era beginning next week, what type of culture is he bringing to add to the culture that Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus have already begun from last year? — @zachkendall22

Warren has an extensive NFL background and has worked for several teams, and that can be a benefit at the highest levels — president, general manager, head coach — because you experience working with a lot of different people and different ways to go about things. I’ll reiterate what I said about the hiring of Poles last year. While he had worked in only one place, Kansas City, the fact he spanned the tenure of three GMs and experienced different structures mitigated the fact he had spent time in only one building.

We shouldn’t lose sight that the Arlington Heights stadium issue will be the No. 1 piece of business for Warren. It probably will be No. 2 and No. 3 too. Warren has a track record of listening to those he works with, which means he empowers his employees. That’s the kind of work environment that builds strength.

I don’t like diving in too deep on the word “culture,” which is thrown around entirely too much, especially by teams that are struggling in the win/loss columns. Culture means accountability, and I think Poles and Eberflus established an environment of accountability last season — a plus for a team in the early stages of a total teardown. As you know, they don’t hand out trophies (or even ribbons) for culture titles. The team with the best culture last season was the Kansas City Chiefs. The second-best culture belonged to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Warren has enough experience in the league that I imagine he will be cognizant of supporting the football side with whatever it needs. From the sound of things, he and Poles share a similar vision, so it’s set up to be a good working relationship from the start.

When I’m hearing the Bears have a need at cornerback, are they saying Kyler Gordon is a bust? Didn’t it take Kyle Fuller a couple seasons or maybe even three to get his legs under him? — @afterlifeprep

I maintain cornerback is one of many needs the Bears have entering this draft, and I don’t believe Gordon is a bust at all. Jaylon Johnson is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and I’m not sure either one profiles as a No. 1 cornerback. The reality is you need three good cornerbacks, and it would be a plus if you have four. The Bears are short-handed in this area, and while young players such as Jaylon Jones and Josh Blackmon got valuable playing time as rookies last season, they need to add talent and competition to the position. There’s no such thing as too much depth at cornerback, and the Bears need more front-line talent there.

Why is Ryan Poles getting a free pass for his lack of improvement in the trenches on both sides of the ball when he literally said you build through the trenches? — @esox52min

Who is giving him a pass? We’re at a point in the year when it’s impossible to keep score because they’re not playing games. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and criticize Poles for a lack of moves on the offensive and defensive lines, let’s see what the draft brings and if any other moves are made. I don’t have a problem with the Bears passing on Mike McGlinchey at right tackle once the price tag reached $17.5 million annually. Maybe it turns out to be a good move for the Denver Broncos, but signing a player to a bad contract to fill a need usually creates more problems down the road.

I would be particularly concerned about the defensive line and pass rush right now, but it’s a good draft for edge rushers and maybe the Bears will find some players who can more than hold their own as rookies. We have to wait and see what the depth chart will look like to assess Poles’ roster building, and ultimately we’ll have to see how they play. The defensive line was totally undermanned last season and the results proved that. There’s nowhere to go but up, and the Bears better hope they get some help via the draft or it will be difficult to get the most out of their expensive investments at linebacker.

Is Darnell Wright a good fit for the wide zone scheme or would the Bears be better served drafting Paris Johnson at 9? My Wright query stems from a possible trade down if Will Levis falls to 9. — @twillvin

I think Wright would be a solid fit for what the Bears want to do. The Tennessee product measured 6-foot-5 and 333 pounds at the combine and carries that weight well. He played both tackle spots for the Volunteers.

“Very high traits,” one scout said. “Good foot speed and he can mirror and redirect. Needs technical work just like Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones. He’s faced high-level competition in the SEC. All three of these guys are going to be drafted high because of their traits.

“Could be a right tackle for the Bears. Some team might draft him and try him at left tackle, and that might be problematic for him as a rookie. I think he’ll play much better on the right side. He’s a powerful mover. Good run blocker.”

Are the Bears going after Montez Sweat and how much will it take to get him? — @rdatheithird

It seems unlikely the Washington Commanders would entertain trade offers for Sweat, who is entering the fifth-year option in his rookie contract. He has 29 sacks over four seasons with eight last year, and it’s more likely Washington would attempt to sign him to an extension than field offers for him.

If the Bears wanted to trade their first-round pick, surely the Commanders would listen then, but I don’t see that happening. Just like the Tennessee Titans were not going to deal defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, this seems like a bit of a long shot too. What’s the upside for the Commanders in trading Sweat when they’re uncertain about the health of Chase Young’s knee? I’d imagine any trade for Sweat would be costly.

Will the Bears pull a stunner and draft undersized 3-techs Calijah Kancey or Adetomiwa Adebawore at No. 9 because of the glaring need and importance to their scheme? — @themaxconnor1

That seems a little high for either player. They could go in Round 1, but I think you’re looking at the back end of the round for both of them. Both are impressive prospects and Northwestern’s Adebawore really helped himself at the Senior Bowl and then backed it up at the combine. But No. 9 seems too high to me.

Assuming one of the QBs drops to No. 9, I think the Bucs will want in. If the Bears trade down to No. 19, is that late enough to justify Bijan Robinson? — @iowannarock

Can he rush the quarterback? Or protect the quarterback? My hunch is a team targeting Robinson will be a contender that considers itself one piece away on offense. The Bears have gaping needs on the defensive line and remaining questions on the offensive line. They led the NFL in rushing last season with David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and Justin Fields. I could make a pretty strong argument for a top-flight wide receiver before a top-flight running back. Robinson looks like a fabulous prospect, but choosing a running back in Round 1 is a luxury move in a passing league.

What kind of expectations do you have for the backfield of D’Onta Foreman and Khalil Herbert? — Ben E., Chicago

I think this is a pretty good backfield, and if the Bears add more picks with a trade down (or two or three), I could see them drafting a running back from a good class for the position. They don’t have a home run hitter, but Foreman and Herbert both hit the hole hard and run with enough speed, wiggle and power to break tackles at the second level. They will be chain movers for the offense. Neither one is dynamic, but there are only a few dynamic backs in the league.

Travis Homer has third-down traits as a receiver and blocker and projects as a core special teams performer. Foreman projects as the downhill hammer, short-yardage and probably goal-line back. Herbert has a little more lateral speed and can do more damage on the perimeter. Foreman could emerge as the lead back, but the Bears will be able to keep their ball carriers fresh and that is key.

What’s your most anticipated matchup for the Bears this season? — @just_acy

It will be interesting to see how the Bears measure up against the Green Bay Packers with the Jordan Love era set to take flight. I’d circle road games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers as intriguing because we’ll see how they fare against Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert. The schedule should come out in about a month. Last year the NFL revealed it on May 12.


Source: Berkshire mont

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