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Poles: Bears hit trifecta with Day 2 draft picks


General manager Ryan Poles was extremely pleased with the three players the Bears were able to land on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

The team on Friday bolstered its secondary in the second round by choosing Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon at No. 39 and Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker at No. 48 before addressing its offense in the third round by picking Tennessee receiver Velus Jones Jr. at No. 71.

"We are excited," Poles said. "Today went really well. We added three players that I know are going to help our team get better. They're going to improve our team and the playmaking, they're going to improve our team in the locker room and the culture that we're trying to build. So, anytime you kind of hit that trifecta of these players improving different areas of your organization, you're excited about that."

Poles believes that Gordon, Brisker and Jones not only possess the talent to succeed in the NFL but the intangibles the Bears are seeking.

"They're passionate about football," Poles said. "They're tough. They're team-oriented. They communicate really well. They're responsible, dependable; all of those things that we've talked about, that we look for. We just want to keep adding so the locker room gets better, the field gets better, the practice habits get better, competition gets better. And I feel like we hit all of those parts with these guys."

Here's a closer look at the three players:

Kyler Gordon, cornerback (6-0, 200)

Gordon appeared in 33 games over four seasons at Washington. He became a full-time starter for the first time last year and responded by setting career highs with 46 tackles, two interceptions and nine pass breakups, earning first-team all-Pac 10 honors.

Poles, who was surprised that Gordon was still on the board at No. 39, views him as a starting-caliber cornerback who will compete for that position.

"The great thing about him is his movement skills are outstanding," Poles said. "He's tough. [He has] what we call reactive athleticism, twitchy. He's going to help us in coverage big-time and make that whole defense even better.

"The other thing you love about him is just the instincts. He's got a great feel for the game. There's been a lot of good players coming out of Washington, especially in that secondary, so we're pumped about that."

Gordon was a competitive dancer as a kid.

"I know one of the cool things about him, people talk about him doing the ballet thing," Poles said. "I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but he was also big into kung fu as well. He's a real cool, unique kid, and we're excited to add him."

Gordon's background as a dancer no doubt helped him develop the excellent body control he displays on the football field.

"There's a clip—they actually showed it on TV—he's in coverage, it's a back-shoulder [throw]," Poles said. "He actually opens up, turns, feet stick, they don't move, two toes down, grabs it and has an interception. Some of those things are just not normal and he probably developed it from that background."

“Today went really well. We added three players that I know are going to help our team get better.” Bears GM Ryan Poles

Jaquan Brisker, safety (6-1, 199)

Brisker played in 34 games with 21 starts over the past three seasons at Penn State, registering 152 tackles, 7.0 tackles-for-loss, five interceptions and 19 pass breakups. Last season he was named first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American after playing in 12 games and generating 63 tackles, 3.0 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and seven pass breakups.

Poles described Brisker as "a starting-caliber safety whose makeup is incredible, tough."

"Really everything that you've heard myself and [coach] Matt [Eberflus] talk about the last few months, he has that in him," Poles said. "And I think he's going to make our secondary better as well. The cool thing about him, one of those attributes you look for in players is, 'Can you make big plays in big moments?' And he showed that over and over in his career, so we're excited about him.

"I was looking through our scout stuff and one of the guys used the term 'Super Bowl-over-accolade' type. He's all about team. He wants to win and he wants to be on a championship-caliber team, which again, that's what we're doing."

One example of Brisker producing an impact play in a clutch moment came in last year's season opener when he thwarted a Wisconsin drive deep in Penn State territory with a fourth-quarter interception to preserve a 16-10 win.

"They're in the red zone and there was a pass," Poles said. "If they score, they're going to win and he undercuts it, picks it off."

Velus Jones Jr., receiver (6-0, 200)

Jones appeared in 61 games with 21 starts over six seasons at USC (2016-19) and Tennessee (2020-21), catching 120 passes for 1,434 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also averaged 24.4 yards with two touchdowns on 122 kickoff returns and 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns.

Jones enjoyed a breakout 2021 campaign, more than doubling his career totals with 62 receptions for 807 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition, he was named the SEC Co-Special teams Player of the Year after averaging 27.3 yards with one TD on 23 kickoff returns and 15.1 yards on 18 punt returns.

"I was looking for those guys that are explosive and they're playmakers and they can help in many different areas," Poles said, "and that's what this kid is, and when you get a chance to meet him, you'll understand that he's different.

"He's special. There's something about him … there is just an aura about him. Not only can he help our offense, he can help in many different ways. I'm not going to compare him to Deebo [Samuel]. But he has that flexibility where you can put him anywhere: Backfield. Slot. Outside. And then he's a returner, he's gunner. There are so many different things that he can do. And then, always adding that element of speed is important because as a defense, you have to think, 'where is he?' You have to find out where he is and then all of a sudden that opens up other things for other people. So, he's going to be a good player."

Poles said that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is excited about working with Jones.

"Yeah, because you can do different things with him," Poles said. "You can put him in different areas. Like I mentioned: Backfield. Slot. Run cool plays with him, misdirections. And again, that's a pain for a defense; not only like on game day, but to prepare for. You've got to take the extra step to understand who he is, where he's at, what do they run out of this, and then you can kind of tweak and change that week to week.

"This guy breaks a lot of tackles. He can take the top off [defenses]. His run-after-the-catch is outstanding. He's big, too. This isn't a skinny, fast dude; this is a strong, violent runner. He used to be a running back, too. There's a lot we can do."

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