Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace met with the assembled media on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming NFL Draft. Unlike previous years when Pace’s teams were picking in the top-10, this year’s draft has a different feel because the team isn’t scheduled to go on the clock until Friday’s third round.
Even though the Bears don’t pick in either of the first two rounds, Pace addressed a variety of topics ahead of the draft. We have collected some of the highlights and shared some commentary below. Enjoy!
Pressure? What Pressure!?
Everyone knows a good sequel is hard to come by, but the Bears will try to follow up a 12-win season highlighted by an NFC North championship with something bigger and better. One would think there will be pressure to do so, just don’t tell that to the guy making the picks:
Pace on this year's draft: "The pressure feels the same to me. To keep this momentum going, we need to nail this draft."
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) April 23, 2019
I can appreciate that Pace says the feeling is the same for him. If you do something with the same energy all the time, pressure to perform isn’t going to be a thing that derails you from achieving your goal. To be fair, Pace has had a certain amount of pressure in each draft he has conducted in Chicago. It started with Pace rebuilding from what he inherited from the previous regime and grew into piecing together potential impact players in drafts that followed. Now, Pace is in a place where he is rounding out a contender where he’ll need to strike a balance between finding depth for the present and upside for the future. No pressure, guy.
Needs? What Needs?
The good news for the Bears entering this draft is that the team doesn’t have various glaring needs. It’s not like in previous seasons when the team needed a quarterback, pass-rusher, wide receiver, defensive back, or any number of positions that lacked a long-term option. Since the Bears aren’t desperate to fill one specific position, it leaves them in a spot to take the “best player available” which is actually good.
Pace: "I know running back's been talked about a lot, but we feel good about that position. We feel good about Tarik, we feel really good about Mike Davis, we feel good about Ryan Nall and we feel good about Cordarrelle Patterson and the things he can do out of the backfield."
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) April 23, 2019
Alright, so Pace was pretty forward in challenging the mere idea that the Bears need to draft a running back. Frankly, he sounds like a guy who’s trying to hide his interest in someone he likes. It’s OK, Ryan. Your secrets are safe with us. (Wink, wink.)
But still … it’s a bit of a surprise to see Pace name-drop Ryan Nall, who was an undrafted rookie free agent last year who spent the entire season on the practice squad. Nall, a converted fullback, made some splash plays in the preseason and was a fan favorite during training camp. While I’m not sure what role Nall can fill in Chicago, I’m willing to see how he attacks training camp and the preseason competitions that await this summer.
Could the Bears Move Up in the Draft? Pace Didn’t Say No, But…
Pace has never been one to shy away from making bold moves, especially during the draft. He has traded up to select players he loves (Mitch Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, Eddie Jackson, and Anthony Miller come to mind) and moved back to collect picks in volume. Heck, he has done both in the same draft (2017 wasn’t all that long ago if you really think about it). Nothing can be ruled out. With that being said, it’s difficult to envision Pace and the Bears trading into picking on Thursday:
I asked Ryan Pace directly if he could see any scenario in which the Bears make a pick on Thursday: "That'd be tough. That'd be hard. Just because we don't have the ammunition."
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) April 23, 2019
For the record, he didn’t say no.
But Seriously, What Will the Bears Do Without a First-Round Pick?
Good question. Pace had an answer:
#Bears GM Ryan Pace said he’s planning on showing highlights of Khalil Mack during the first round of the draft and of Anthony Miller in the second in his brand new draft room as everything plays out.
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) April 23, 2019
LOL. What a jokester, that Ryan Pace. But seriously … that’s not a bad idea. Who wants to come over for a Khalil Mack Highlight Watch Party in lieu of watching the NFL Draft? Show of hands…
Nothing But Good Vibes For Jordan Howard
I’m not sure we’ll ever hear specifics on why Jordan Howard fell out of favor in Chicago, though we could take some educated guesses and probably come close to figuring it out. But one thing I feel we’ll always hear from anyone associated with the Bears is an appreciation for Howard and what he did in Chicago. Pace weighed in on the deal briefly:
Pace on the Howard trade: "We were happy the way FA transpired — we like Mike Davis and we're happy with that RB room.
I hope Jordan does well and we feel good with where we're at going forward." #Bears
— Arthur Arkush (@ArthurArkush) April 23, 2019
There isn’t much more to say about Howard and this deal. For three years, Howard did what was asked of him in the offense – and did it pretty well. When he was the load-carrying back in an offense where he was the show, Howard didn’t complain about seeing stacked boxes or not having a passing game that could free up holes underneath. Nor did he pitch a fit when his role was scaled back in favor of a more balanced attack that allowed Tarik Cohen more touches. Howard was a consummate pro and good teammate who said (and did) all the right things while in Chicago. There is no reason not to wish him anything less than his best moving forward (save for whenever he plays the Bears, of course).
Some Love For Mike Davis:
Ryan Pace said of new Bears running back Mike Davis: "He's built to handle a lot of carries. … We're excited to let it play out."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) April 23, 2019
Davis has a similar build to Howard and is a more accomplished pass-catcher. But unlike Howard, the newest Bears running back has yet to prove it over a larger sample of carries over a 16-game stretch. Davis has never been a full-time lead back in his career, but he doesn’t have to be in Chicago. Splitting carries between Davis, Tarik Cohen, and a running back to be selected later is a perfectly cromulent way to run an offense that requires dual-threat playmakers out of the backfield. Pace is excited to let it play out on the field, but I bet he’d be even more geeked about his running backs situation if he was able to add one more dynamic threat to the group.