NFL Combine: While Poles focuses on QB, Matt Eberflus has his own combine list

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus offered a glimpse of what happens at the NFL Combine from his point of view in player interviews.

"I'll ask them if they want to do darts or putting," Eberflus said, jokingly. "I like putting. I'm pretty good at both."

Well, not exactly. There's plenty more the head coach needs to get to this week if he wants to finish what he spent the most time focusing on in his press conference.

That is, building a roster.

Here are some key points from Eberflus' press conference Tuesday.

Free agency is the first step

The combine may come first, but free agency comes a full month before the NFL Draft. Eberflus is aware of this.

The combine, then, plays a specific role for this Bears team to help fill holes that will be determined at a later time.

While Eberflus is at the combine scouting, his eyes will be on free agency in the coming weeks, which will determine whether the Bears resign Jaylon Johnson, find anther starting safety alongside Jaquan Brisker and fill in depth at positions like wide receiver.

"You're in the process of formulating a whole new roster," Eberflus said. "You got your spots that you got to fill and you're always looking at that every single year. And to me, it's about formulating that as we go through this free agency and then filling the holes with the draft."

Jaylon Johnson earns his second rave review

Ryan Poles spoke highly of cornerback Jaylon Johnson and said the two sides are working toward a new contract.

Eberflus echoed plenty of the praise for Johnson, which was from a coach's perspective.

"I'm so proud of Jalen, the way he improved and the way he really took the challenge to be a ball guy. And he seemed he did that," Eberflus said. 

Johnson earned second-team All-Pro honors last year after a career year. It was the kind of year that Johnson and the coaching staff were looking for. It went beyond the play on the field for Eberflus, too.

"He's a great leader, and not only in our defensive back room but in our whole defensive room too," Eberflus said. "I'm excited about him. Again, like Ryan said this morning, we obviously want to get him to a long-term deal. I hope they're close. I hope it works out."

What happens opposite Jaquan Brisker?

The Bears released starting free safety Eddie Jackson this offseason, which means the Bears need to find a player to start opposite Jaquan Brisker.

Brisker, the third-year player from Penn State, has been dependable in his first two seasons with the Bears after earning the starting nod.

"You're looking for a guy that pairs well with him," Eberflus said. "Jaquan is the guy that's a strong safety. He comes down, mans tight ends. He's a big hammer. 

What pairs well with a safety that hits hard and can cover the bigger players in the passing game? Eberflus knows what he's looking for.

"The guy that you're looking for, he's gotta have athletic ability," Eberflus said. "He's got to have range, he's got to have great communication skills and he's got to have ball skills."

Sounds like a prime Eddie Jackson, no?

Eberflus has an eye on the quarterbacks, too

Poles discussed what he was looking for in a quarterback, should the Bears decide to start anew. Eberflus knows what he's looking for, too.

"I look at the guys that can operate the third down, two minute in the end of the game situations," Eberflus said.

However, quarterbacks at the combine are difficult study. Not all quarterback prospects throw. Those that do are throwing without defenders, unlike literally every play in the NFL. In, fact all three quarterbacks expected to be in play for the No. 1 overall selection will reportedly forgo their workouts.

Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels will reportedly not throw at the combine. However, others like JJ McCarthy, Bo Nix and Michael Penix, will.

"You got to look at toughness for a quarterback, it really is about the mental toughness to be able to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball," Eberflus said. "Then, also have a discernment to be able to move out of the pocket and create when it's necessary. They come on all different shapes and sizes. But, yeah, it's always been fun to evaluate those guys."

Eberflus looks beyond the quarterback

Poles doesn't have an envious position. He's going to have to make a decision on the Bears' quarterback.

Eberflus has the position of being able to focus on bit of everything else.

The receiver room needs depth. The Bears need a pass rusher opposite Montez Sweat. He spent time talking about the safety position, too.

Is this team close to contending for a playoff berth? Eberflus said the team is moving in the right direction.

"We're in the process of building that team right now," Eberflus said. "We have a lot of work to do to between now and April 15, all the way to June 15. So, there's a lot of work there to be done. I see it as a natural progression to our building of this franchise and we're certainly excited about that."


NFL Combine: Ryan Poles 'has no master plan,' but but he knows what he wants

Here are the key points from what Poles said during his talk with the media in Indianapolis.