• Ryan Pace is a lurker. His Draft Day moves have been shrouded by clouds of secrecy. And he doesn’t do media availability enough to give you a feel for what’s up his sleeve. So, naturally, Connor Orr (SI.com) lists Pace as one of his 10 most interesting people entering the 2021 NFL Draft. There is something intriguing about the most mysterious people, so it’s no surprise Pace lands on this list. The desperation Pace must feel as he enters a lame-duck year adds to the flavor. And when you consider the Bears’ failure to land Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson in spite of their heavy presence on the rumor mill regarding those particular players, Pace is the guy in the room you can’t help but want to keep tabs on.
• In reading Orr’s piece, I found myself thinking of two different scenarios from popular episodes of The Simpsons from years past. One is the he’s gonna do something … and you know it’s gonna be good! scenario…
… and the other is:
• Putting our biases aside, isn’t Pace’s history enough to make him the most interesting man in the room? No one saw the Khalil Mack trade coming. The Mitchell Trubisky pick came out of left field. Trading up into the top 10 to take Leonard Floyd was a surprise. I don’t remember Kevin White being a consensus pick for the Bears when it went down in 2015. When you look at Pace’s résumé, I think the only move that lined up with the general consensus was the Roquan Smith pick. At least that’s turned out well. All this to say, all eyes are on Pace between now and when the 2021 NFL Draft opens for business.
• While hockey teams finish the deadline with what I hope is a barrage of trade, football teams are gearing up for the NFL Draft. But unlike last year, when the idea of splash trades early in the round weren’t really considered, we’ve already seen big deals go down. And to think, more could be on the horizon. Over at Bleacher Report, Gary Davenport offers up a handful of teams that should try to make deals ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s a fun rabbit hole to travel, so check it out.
• Two obvious scenarios to keep an eye on: The Bears trading up and Falcons trading down. It’s possible both could happen together. Atlanta is open to dealing the fourth overall pick, while Chicago reportedly has interest in trading up to that spot with eyes on a quarterback. Whether we think it is a good idea or not is irrelevant. Because with GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy being in job-preservation mode, the move for them on Draft weekend figures to be the one that could create some job security. Simply put, the Bears have been “in” on every quarterback who has changed hands this offseason. So why wouldn’t they be “in” on moving up for a draft pick who could change the course of the franchise (hopefully in a positive manner) on Day 1 of the Draft?
• However, much like there were hurdles in their attempt to snag Russell Wilson, the Bears must navigate the complexities of these trade waters. In other words, Chicago can’t force Atlanta to take a deal. And because the Bears have the 20th pick, their deal needs to be above and beyond what teams with earlier first-round picks can offer. Plenty of teams value trading down. But there’s a risk in moving out of the top-5 and into the near bottom third, and a team trading up must make it worth Atlanta’s move back.
• That the Bears could be challenged by teams starving for quarterback upgrades as much as they are will make this hurdle a tough one to clear. A new sense of urgency came to Washington with the arrival of Ron Rivera. And perhaps the franchise’s next move is int his upcoming NFL Draft:
.@mlombardiNFL: "I think Washington is going to be the next team to unload all their picks to try to get a QB. I think they love Lance. I don't think, I KNOW Washington loves Lance … I think they're willing to go get him."
— Burgundy Blog (@BurgundyBlog) April 7, 2021
• I found myself reading and re-reading Davenport’s piece. And rather than dive into each potential opportunity, which may or may not happen, I read this proposed movement as a sign that this Draft is so fluid. There are so many directions it can go for so many different teams. Possible fluidity has me wanting to keep myself open to anything (and everything) that could present itself. The NFL Draft being unpredictable isn’t new. But the wheeling-and-dealing that might happen by the time the dust settles could be unprecedented. And frankly, I’m here for it.
• What’s the point of replay if you’re going to get THIS wrong?
— Bleacher Nation Cubs (@BleacherNation) April 12, 2021
• A common thread in this Bulls season is that Zach LaVine can really get UP, even when the team goes down: