Watch CBS News

GM Ryan Poles says Chicago Bears "know what we're gonna do" with No. 1 draft pick

CBS News Live
CBS Sports HQ Live

CHICAGO (CBS) – It's a busy week at Halas Hall for the Chicago Bears ahead of a highly-anticipated NFL Draft.

But as the Bears got set to add some hopefully transformative talent later this week, the team first honored two current players with the Brian Piccolo Award on Tuesday, named for former Bears running back Brian Piccolo.

The award is given to those who best exemplify Piccolo's dedication and teamwork among other characteristics.

Offensive lineman Darnell Wright got the rookie honors while linebacker T.J. Edwards, who grew up a Bears fan, was the veteran winner.

"It's humbling," Edwards said. "It's kinda just the way I was raised was to treat people right and try to do the right thing. You know, it's an award that's voted on by your peers. It means all the more."

Piccolo was a Bears running back who died of embryonal cell carcinoma on June 16, 1970, at the age of 26. His fight against the disease and his friendship with fellow Bears running mate Gayle Sayers was depicted in the 1971 TV movie "Brian's Song," the Bears noted.

Piccolo also collaborated with sports reporter Jeannie Morris – who spent much of her career with CBS 2 – on a book about his life and struggle with his cancer. The book, "Brian Piccolo: A Short Season," was published in 1971.

Wright called Piccolo "the perfect embodiment of a selfless person" for helping Sayers overcome a knee injury back in 1968.

"He's behind a guy, a guy gets hurt, he comes in, doesn't know if the guy's going to come back and take his spot, but he's still helping the guy rehab," Wright said in the Bears news release. "He was such a selfless person. If I can be an embodiment of that in any way, to help my teammates in any way, that's what I'm going to do."

Meanwhile, general manager Ryan Poles and assistant general manager Ian Cunningham held their pre-draft chat with the news media on Tuesday.

While it may be a foregone conclusion the Bears will select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick, Poles didn't make that official just yet.

"Everyone's got to tune in on Thursday to watch ... but I feel really good about our process and where we are and where we're headed," Poles said. "We know what we're gonna do."

What Poles did do was heap praise on Williams. Months of scouting and research into the person and player have shown Poles and the Bears that Williams is a guy worth drafting first overall.

"He's all ball," Poles said. "Wants to work, wants to get better, wants to win. I think the biggest thing is, does he fit in our culture and what we're trying to do? And all signs are that he does."

Williams was the only player the Bears brought in ahead of the draft for a visit, which included a dinner with some of his future teammates. Poles said the interaction "just confirmed a lot of information that we got." The general manager added they tested Williams' football knowledge with coaches, which was a "very positive interaction."

Williams has already put expectations on himself, publicly saying he wants to chase Tom Brady's record of seven Super Bowl titles.

"I love that," Poles said. "I think we all should have huge goals. We have huge goals here: win multiple championships and that's what we shoot for. You're more intentional when you have these goals. You have to live a certain way. You have to practice a certain way. You have to go about your business a certain way."

The Bears also hold the ninth overall pick in the first round on Thursday night. Poles said how the draft unfolds before them will dictate whether the Bears stay at No. 9 or trade back, but he said he didn't feel a need to add more draft picks despite going in with only four.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.