If Ryan Pace’s parents aren’t driving around with a bumper-sticker that proudly proclaims their son is an honor roll student, they’re doing it all wrong. Because one year after putting together a widely acclaimed draft that helped push the Chicago Bears into the postseason (after a drought the likes we hope to never see again), Pace was at it again in 2019 with another stellar class.
Chad Rueter, NFL.com: A
The 2019 Bears draft class received straight-A’s from NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter. Using a Day 1 pick on an established star like Khalil Mack matters, but that’s just where the praise begins.
Reuter hands the Bears an overall “A” grade, because of what they were able to do on Days 2 and 3 of the draft. Third-round pick David Montgomery is viewed as a running back of the future type, whose ability to carry a freight makes him all-the-more valuable. Pairing Montgomery with Kerrith Whyte Jr., the Florida Atlantic speedster who put up big numbers in a smaller sample of snaps (because he ran behind third-round selection Devin Singletary) should make the Bears’ backfield that much more explosive.
Landing wide receiver Riley Ridley, then, was considered “an absolute steal” in Reuter’s estimation, especially since Ridley was viewed as a second-round value. Even the pick of Kansas State’s Duke Shelley get a tip of the cap because he projects to be a slot corner in the near future.
Eric Edholm, Yahoo! Sports: A-
Put aside that the Bears used draft capital to “pick” Mack and Anthony Miller, Eric Edholm views Montgomery as the best pick of this bunch. Instead of signing Kareem Hunt, the Bears drafted a player who earned favorable on-field comps to the Pro Bowl running back. It’s the third consecutive year in which Pace and his staff showed enough conviction in an offensive prospect to trade up in the draft to take him.
On the other end of the spectrum, picking Shelley doesn’t seem to sit well with Edholm. There are concerns that the 5-8, 178-pound corner won’t stick in the league because he “is not built for the rigors of the NFC North.” Larger receivers could end up giving Shelley fits, and that could be problematic. But for now, we’ll allow new DC Chuck Pagano some time to get his hands on a prospect with some things he needs to work on in order to reach his potential.
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: B+
Whether you love him or hate him, Mel Kiper Jr. is the Dean of draft pick evaluations. When Kiper speaks, everyone listens. And Bears fans are going to like what Kiper has to say about this Bears class, which he gives a B+ grade.
Kiper goes as far as to say Mack is the draft class, but he goes onto explain that it’s more than that as he goes through his evaluation. The highlights in this draft from Kiper’s point of view are all on the offensive side of the ball, where Montgomery, Whyte, and Ridley are value picks who should help Mitch Trubisky in Year 2 running Matt Nagy’s offense.
Each of the Bears’ offensive picks fits a particular mold of what Chicago’s offense is supposed to be moving forward. In Montgomery and Ridley, the Bears have polished college products with refined skills that should translate from college to the pros. And in Whyte, Chicago has a speed merchant who could get touches on offense, but should slide in right away as a return specialist. Whyte’s emergence as a returner could give Tarik Cohen a breather here and there, which could make him that much fresher (and therefore, more potent) on the offensive side of the ball. Giggity!
Andy Benoit, SI.com’s The MMQB: B
Despite needing to use future draft capital to move up and ensure the opportunity to take David Montgomery, Andy Benoit thinks the Montgomery pick was a “great value.” In his post-draft write-up, Benoit favorably compares to Montgomery’s running style to Marshawn Lynch, and notes he is younger, fresher, and (I suppose, most importantly for a team that will need to hand out some expensive extensions in due time) has a more cap-friendly contract than his predecessor Jordan Howard.
Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: B+
And the highest-graded draft class in the NFC belongs to:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) April 30, 2019
The best draft in the division belonged to the best team … and they didn’t even start drafting until Round 3. Put these grades on the refrigerator and smile. Things are looking good for the Bears now, and into the future.