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Ryan Poles reveals what Bears learned about Caleb Williams at critical dinner with veterans

Ryan Poles reveals what Bears learned about Caleb Williams at critical dinner with veterans originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Bears general manager Ryan Poles kept his cards close to the vest Tuesday during his pre-draft media availability at Halas Hall.

Even though the entire NFL world knows the Bears will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, Poles refused to publicly announce the pick when asked Tuesday.

"So unfortunately, it's one of those things I think everyone's got to tune in on Thursday to watch and figure out," Poles said with a big smile. "But I feel really good about our process and where we are and where we're headed. So we know what we're going to do but everyone is going to have to wait until Thursday."

Watch Ryan Poles' full press conference here.

Williams has been atop the Bears' draft board since the start of the pre-draft process. The Bears had a brief meeting with Williams at the combine, spent two days with him ahead of his pro day in Los Angeles, and then hosted him on a top-30 visit to Halas Hall.

That 30 visit included a dinner with several team veterans, including wide receiver DJ Moore, linebacker T.J. Edwards, and tight end Cole Kmet.

"Really intelligent guy. Came across as a really good teammate, easy to talk to, down to earth," Poles said when asked about the feedback he got from veterans about Williams. "We’ve talked through this process about the whole Hollywood thing. He’s all ball, wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win as a team. That’s the No. 1 thing for him on top of being successful. I think the biggest thing is: Does he fit in our culture and what we’re trying to do. And all signs were that he does, so that was positive."

Williams has checked every box for the Bears during the pre-draft process.

The initial meeting at the combine was all about football. The Bears used a multiple-day visit to Los Angeles to test Williams' football knowledge and see his interactions and relationships with his USC teammates during a pre-Pro-Day dinner.

The 30 visit was merely the final piece of a puzzle. It was important for Poles to involve key veteran players in the final evaluation of Williams.

"I think it just confirmed a lot of information that we got," Poles said of the 30 visit. "You know, there's a kind of test to where his football understanding is. That part, getting him with some of our players. That's important to us. We're in a really good place with our culture in our locker room. As much as I can I want those guys a part of the process of building this team. I trust their feedback, and I think that chemistry is really important, so that's why we did that."

The Bears will make Williams the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday, and then a new era of Bears football will begin.

Poles and his staff have flipped the roster over in two years and assembled a team that should compete for a playoff spot in 2024.

The excitement is overflowing at Halas Hall. But the draft-week celebration will be short-lived. Then, the real work begins.

"So it’s something to be proud of, but at the same time, the job’s not done," Poles said. "I’ve talked about it before, on paper – it’s on paper. You’ve got to play and you’ve got to win games in this league. That’s what it comes down to, but we have taken the time just to – for a second, not long – but we’re proud of where we’ve come from."

Williams and whether or not the Bears can properly develop him will determine how far they go.

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