There are times in life where positive reinforcement can go a long way toward getting someone headed in the right direction. So, here’s to Bears GM Ryan Pace is speaking excellence into existence when discussing the future of tight end Adam Shaheen:
Ryan Pace said of Adam Shaheen: "We still feel his arrow's up."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) April 23, 2019
Pace gave Adam Shaheen a vote of confidence during his Tuesday press conference ahead of this weekend’s NFL Draft, and that certainly had to make the 2017 second-round pick feel good.
Shaheen looked good in training camp and was slated to have a more diverse role in the offense than what he had as a rookie when he was mainly used as a run-blocker. Unfortunately, Shaheen suffered injuries to his right foot and ankle that caused him to miss the first nine games of the 2018 season. And in his first game back, Shaheen suffered a concussion that caused him to miss a 10th game. It has been a snake-bitten start to Shaheen’s career in Chicago, but Pace insists the arrow is still pointing in the right direction – and he could be onto something, so long as Shaheen stays healthy.
But what if he doesn’t?
We saw how the injury bug negatively impacted that position group throughout the year. In addition to the 10 games Shaheen missed, Dion Sims – who was at the top of the “Y” tight end depth chart – also missed eight games. That’s 18 games between the top two players at that position. No wonder the Bears have kicked the tires on some mid-round draft possibilities.
With that in mind, the Bears have met with Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M), Josh Oliver (San Jose State), and Nic Weishar (Notre Dame). Each of those three prospects figures to be available in the middle and later rounds of the upcoming draft. Pace could still have confidence in Shaheen’s upside, but that doesn’t mean the Bears GM won’t look for alternatives at the position. And they should. Because even if Shaheen takes that next step, he is one of just three tight ends on the roster, and that feels too few considering that position’s importance in Matt Nagy’s offense.