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Bears early evaluations point to drafting Caleb Williams or another quarterback: reports

Bears early evaluations point to drafting Caleb Williams or another quarterback: reports originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Bears are heading into a pivotal offseason with a litany of major decisions in front of them. One decision is no larger than whether or not they prefer to return Justin Fields or draft a new quarterback.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler shed light on the early belief of the Bears' preferences at this point.

"I have talked to some people in and around the program who believe they will eventually land on a Caleb Williams or a quarterback at No. 1 but still has to be sorted out," Fowler said on ESPN.

Fowler mentioned the Bears are in the early stages of their evaluations of all players, including the top quarterbacks. To Fowler, that includes "character studies, deep film work, etc."

Ryan Poles expressed the same about the current stage of their offseason work during the team's end-of-season press conference on Wednesday.

"We are in information-gathering mode right now," Poles said of the Bears' upcoming quarterback decision. "We are going to turn over every stone to make sure that we are going to make a sound decision for our organization. I did think Justin got better. I think he can lead this team. But at the same time, there’s a unique situation where I have to look, and our staff has to look at everything. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do."

Fowler also said most people around the league feel Williams is the top quarterback in the draft. For what it's worth, he hasn't yet declared for the NFL draft. Williams has until Jan. 15 to declare for the 2024 NFL draft, or return back to USC.

Fowler also mentioned that Justin Fields has truly given them a lot to think about. He's made the decision much harder on the Bears. With that, Ryan Poles is faced with a tenure-defining decision that will alter the Bears franchise.

The Bears have the No. 1 pick for a second-straight season in their arsenal. For what it's worth, they also own the No. 9 pick by their own 7-10 regular season record.

Last season, the Bears opted to roll with Fields, passing on the 2023 quarterback class that included Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson, Will Levis, etc. The jury is still out on most of these signal-callers, but Stroud appears to be a hit.

Are the Bears confident in their ability to scout quarterbacks, seeing as one seemingly fell through the cracks?

“I’ll actually go back to last year, and I’ve got to stay open-minded about it," Poles said. "Not to use the same quote, but I want to say I need to be blown away. It’s the same setup because seeing the things that Justin did this year, his ability to make plays, coach talked about some of those improvements, keeping his eyes down the field, taking less sacks, you see a lot of growth there where he can continue to get better.

"So I’ll have the same mindset: someone needs to really show that they can … and it’s not just the film. I need the person. There’s a whole process here that we have to figure out. But what we’re going to do is do what’s best for the organization. I’m sure there’s going to be similar situations in terms of the trade back and I’ve got to weigh all those things to see what’s going to help our team take the next step."

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