Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace sat down with an exclusive Q&A session with Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, during which a variety of topics were discussed. Pace sure has a lot to talk about at this point of what has been a busy offseason with a new coach, a handful of new faces signed via free agency, and more to come in the draft.
You’ll want to read the entire Q&A to get the entire scope of the conversation. But first, some highlights:
- Because the Bears believe in Mitch Trubisky as their quarterback, Pace is hoping other teams drafting in front of them see something in this crop of signal callers to the point where four go off the board before the team goes on the clock with the No. 8 pick. Pace isn’t sure if it’s realistic, but that’s not keeping him from holding out hope. “We have to prepare for all of those scenarios. We’ll prepare for best case and we’ll prepare for worst case. That’s what is fun this time of year. You have all of your evaluations in. Now we prepare for all of those different things that can transpire.”
- What Pace calls fun, I call nervously awaiting draft day hoping the best player available at No. 8 is someone who can step right in and start right away as an impact player and not a project that forces us to play the waiting game. I’m not asking too much, am I? In any case, the Bears are in prime position to grab an impact talent by virtue of holding a top-10 pick. And here’s hoping this is the last time they’re picking this high for a while.
- Pace has previously discussed the possibilities of trading up or down in this draft, but teams haven’t come burning up the Bears’ phone lines to discuss the availability of the No. 8 pick just yet. Though, that doesn’t seem to surprise Pace. “I think that will heat up as you get closer. When the Jets came up (from No. 6 to No. 3), they were putting themselves in a position where they know they can (get a player they want) where maybe No. 8 is a little too far back for that. It’s hard to predict.”
- The Jets trade with the Colts had nothing to do with the Bears directly, but still had plenty of Chicago-related implications when it comes to who could be available when Pace and his front office go on the clock. And to think, the Colts could further complicate things with another trade back, should they so choose. Business is about to pick up soon when it comes to draft season.
- It’s possible the Bears use this upcoming top-10 pick on an impact defender for the second time in three years. Pace is still high on edge defender/outside linebacker/pass rusher Leonard Floyd, who looked to be coming into his own before a season-ending knee injury. In fact, Pace believes Floyd is coming close to becoming the impact player he envisioned when he traded up to take the University of Georgia product in 2016. “He’s really, really close,” Pace said when asked how far away Floyd was from being a dominant player. “He’s gotten stronger each year in the league and now it’s just a matter of him staying on the field. He’s working to become a more durable player and if he does, he’s very close to being (dominant.)”
- It would be nice to see Floyd used exclusively as a pass rusher, but because versatility is key to Vic Fangio’s defense, I won’t hold my breath. There is no doubt he is athletic enough to be thrown into coverage and he hasn’t been awful when asked to do so. But Pace says the best thing Floyd does is rush the passer and was drafted primarily because of his pass-rushing skills. That doesn’t mean he can’t be used elsewhere as a defender.
- Now I’m dreaming about the possibility of having a dominant pass rusher on a defense that certainly needs one, if not two. From where I sit, an ideal draft day scenario would be North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb dropping all the way to No. 8, where Pace goes all Usain Bolt on us and makes the pick in record time. Putting a pass-rusher with Chubb’s potential on the other side of Floyd is the stuff defensive dreams are made of … well, at least our dreams.
- Even though the Green Bay Packers tried to make the Bears think twice about re-signing Kyle Fuller based on the structure of his contract, Pace didn’t blink when it was time to make a decision whether to match the offer sheet. And it’s not just because of how the deal was drawn up, either. Pace seems to think Fuller can play up to his contract, which has a $14 million average salary that ranks fifth among cornerbacks. “He played like one of the better corners in the league (last) year. So, you’re evaluating him currently but … you are also evaluating the projection. He’s a good young player for us that we feel is still ascending.”