Bears' Ryan Poles still holding faith in Chase Claypool's outlook

Ryan Poles still holding faith in Chase Claypool originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Fresh off the NFL draft, there has been chatter about Chase Claypool and whether his services at wide receiver are worth the No. 32 pick Ryan Poles and the Bears surrendered to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for him at last season's trade deadline.

Does Poles believe Claypool will fulfill his end of the bargain in the end?

"I believe he will," Poles told Bernstein & Holmes on 670 the Score. "I think there's a track record, especially when he was in Pittsburgh, that leads you to believe he can be a high performer in this league and contribute."

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Poles, unlike some outsiders and followers of the Bears, believes there's still juice to squeeze from Claypool's talent.

From a numbers standpoint, there is, like Poles said, a reason to believe Claypool can be a contributing factor to the Bears' offense. For starters, Claypool nearly reached 1,000 yards receiving in his first two seasons in the NFL. During that span, he also recorded 11 touchdowns.

Claypool was able to manage a solid stat sheet amidst the Steelers' quarterback issues. Between Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, Claypool has caught footballs from a more than ideal number of signal callers.

At the aforementioned trade deadline, the Steelers found no use for him in their organization, sending him to the Bears. Over seven games with the Bears, Claypool underperformed, notching 140 yards and 14 catches last season.

There is a path to rationalizing why Claypool struggled in Chicago. He hopped in games without an entire knowledge of the playbook. He didn't receive ample time to connect with Justin Fields. And the balance of the Bears' roster didn't make things easier for Fields or his receivers.

Poles believes the latter point is a reason to provide optimism in Claypool's favor. Now that Claypool can train with Fields in the offseason, fully grasp the playbook and experience a more robust supporting cast on the offense, he can thrive.

"Now that we're more balanced across the board at the receiver position, the tight end position, we've got more protection, in terms of running the ball and staying balanced," Poles said. "On top of that, you give a full offseason to a guy who can create trust and timing with his quarterback.

"That's what I'm leaning on right now and we'll see if that happens."

Will Claypool live up to the expectations of a top receiver? Or, will Poles and the Bears front office kick themselves after this season, wishing they hadn't given up a conditional first-round pick?

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