Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles addresses his defense on Day 2 of the NFL draft, adding a pair of DTs and CB Tyrique Stevenson

An exhausted Ryan Poles planned to go home from Halas Hall on Friday night and put his phone on “do not disturb” so he could get some rest before a busy Day 3 of the NFL draft.

But the Chicago Bears general manager imagines it might be hard to relax after he helped his defense take a step forward with three additions from the second and third rounds.

“I’ll go sit down at home and be wired,” Poles said. “And I’ll have to watch TV and eventually fall asleep.”

One night after addressing the offense by taking Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright, Poles focused on filling key holes on the defense, selecting Florida defensive tackle Gervon Dexter at No. 53, Miami cornerback Tyrique Stevenson at No. 56 and South Carolina defensive tackle Zacch Pickens at No. 64.

Poles traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars to get Stevenson, giving them the No. 136 pick to move up five spots.

On Thursday night, Poles left open the possibility that he would trade up from 53 because of the large gap between their first and second picks. That didn’t materialize, but when he thought Stevenson might not last until 61, he made his move.

Stevenson, who is 6 feet, 198 pounds, is a fast, physical cornerback who had three interceptions and 14 passes defended in his final two seasons in college. He transferred from Georgia to Miami after two seasons.

Poles sees Stevenson as an ideal outside cornerback but said he likes his versatility to play inside, too, just like 2022 second-round pick Kyler Gordon. Stevenson will come in to compete for playing time in a group that includes Gordon and Jaylon Johnson.

“Big, physical corner,” Poles said. “Tackles. Will strike you. Good ball skills. What stands out about him in coverage, he has a ton of poise. Really stays in control through all of his movements and especially when the ball’s in the air.”

Stevenson, who had a Bears hat on for his video news conference, said he prides himself on his football IQ, versatility and play style.

He said coach Matt Eberflus said the Bears invited him on a top-30 visit to Halas Hall in the predraft process “because I play the game how it used to be played. Very tough and very physical.” Poles said they liked what they saw at the Senior Bowl.

“He really flashed to us even more at the Senior Bowl in one-on-ones and some of those press techniques, and you’re like, man, this guy is long and physical,” Poles said. “You’ve got to be confident to get in someone’s face and take care of business on the line of scrimmage. He did that with an unbelievable skill set and length and all that. And then the poise and the routes, to really stay calm and read the hip and stay in position. So then let’s go back to the tape and watch these situations and we see him excel there, which is going to help him at this level.”

In Dexter and Pickens, Poles thinks he has two players who can jump into an interior defensive line rotation with Justin Jones and Andrew Billings. He said they both can be moved to either three-technique or nose tackle.

“In this league, in terms of the defensive line, you’ve got to have really two waves,” Poles said. “So we’ve been able to start that inside. They’re multipliers. They punch the pocket, they dent the pocket. That makes it a shorter edge for the outside guys. In the run game, they’re tougher to move. That allows your linebackers to flow and run even better. They multiple and help everybody.”

Dexter, who is 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, had 125 tackles, 9 ½ tackles for a loss, 4 ½ sacks, two interceptions and four passes defended in three seasons at Florida. Poles called him big, strong and extremely athletic. He said the former basketball player started off in college raw but continued to get better.

“If you go back and watch his freshman tape, he’s out there just kind of throwing people around,” Poles said. “He doesn’t really feel pressure yet and understand block recognition and all that. And then the next year it gets even better in terms of the feel, and then this year, it got even better. The other thing we look at is the play time for these big guys. When they start hitting in the 60, 70%, it’s hard to be full throttle all the time, so you’re going to see some up and down, so that’s where that whole grading the flashes kind of comes from because at this level, you’d like to get a nice little rotation with those guys so they stay fresh and explosive.”

In four seasons at South Carolina, Pickens, whom Poles called long and athletic, had 131 tackles, 11 ½ tackles for a loss, 7 ½ sacks and four passes defended.

The 6-foot-4, 291-pound Pickens was voted the South Carolina MVP as a senior but believes he can achieve greater things at the NFL level with more consistent coaching. He wants to be more consistently physical instead of just showing flashes. Poles said they liked Pickens’ ability to self assess and his willingness to take coaching.

“I’m going to be 10 times better than I was in college,” Pickens said. “I haven’t reached the level I could be and I’m definitely going to hold myself accountable to everything I do, especially going to the Bears.”

The Bears open Day 3 of the draft with the first pick of the fourth round, No. 103. They have four more picks after that: Nos. 133, 148, 218, 258. The Bears still have a need for an edge rusher, and Poles said he thinks there are some good players available.

“We’ll sleep on it because we’re all kind of gassed right now,” Poles said. “So we’ll come back fresh and make some decisions on who we kick this thing off with and also see if there’s opportunity to move back as well.”


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