Ryan Pace Speaks: Flexibility, Reality, Mongo, the Nagy Factor, Building the Board, More

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Ryan Pace Speaks: Flexibility, Reality, Mongo, the Nagy Factor, Building the Board, More

Chicago Bears

Ryan Pace has mastered the art of saying many words while simultaneously saying nothing of substance. It’s that type of gumption that will keep the NFL’s other 31 teams guessing as to what Chicago will do in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Nevertheless, I’ve pulled some interesting thoughts and highlights from Pace’s last press conference before Draft Weekend. I have also added some commentary for context, perspective, depth, and analysis. You can watch Pace addressing the media below. In the meantime, enjoy the rest.

Maintaining Flexibility

Preparation, open-mindedness, and flexibility are three things Pace seems to have entering the weekend:

“As an organization, we’ve got to be ready for every single scenario. However this thing plays out. However this board falls. That’s where the preparation comes into play. And I feel like we’re in that spot — whether it’s trading up, staying put, trading back — all those things are in play for us.”

(Michael: In other words, yes, the Bears will participate in the draft).

It’s always good to be prepared. If that dream trade-up scenario is available, jump and take it. But if it isn’t, then stand pat. However, don’t stand pat if something good comes along. Then again, don’t make deals just to say you cut a deal. Speak softly, but carry a big stick and all that good stuff.

The trade up splash to land a QB is the dream. On the other hand, a trade back to amass picks is pretty dreamy in its own right. But what happens if the Bears stay put?

“I was just looking over the last 10 years and the players that have gone in this range of the draft,” Pace said. “As you look back on the hit rates of those players, were there common denominators? It’s interesting, and it is harder. When you’re picking in the top 10, it’s very easy to have 100 percent consensus throughout your building. We can have 15 reports on a player in the top 10 and everybody’s got this guy pegged. But when you go further back, it gets different.”

For what it’s worth, I’m not certain things were any easier when Pace was choosing in the top-10. Save for the Roquan Smith choice in 2018, the Bears were trending more toward raw talents with upside (Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, Mitchell Trubisky) and away from more proven college prospects (Smith).

If you want to hang your hat on something, the following players were taken between picks 20-32 since 2015: Justin Jefferson (22nd, 2020), Darnell Savage (21st, 2019), Josh Jacobs (24th, 2019), Calvin Ridley (26th, 2018), Lamar Jackson (32nd, 2018), Tre’Daviosu White (27th, 2017), T.J. Watt (30th, 2017), Will Fuller (21st, 2016), Kenny Clark (27th, 2016). That’s three stud receivers, two star running backs, a pair of ace defenders, a superb running back, and one standout quarterback. Go get ’em, Ryan!

The Matt Nagy Factor

One thing that sparks optimism is that Pace isn’t in a position to act like a rogue bandit on draft weekend. In fact, Pace made it a point to rave about having Head Coach Matt Nagy, Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor, and QBs Coach John DeFilippo as part of the quarterback-scouting process.

“What’s cool about with Matt — and with Lazor and with Flip — there’s certain positions I think it’s valuable if you’ve played that position. I think quarterback is one. All three of those guys have played the position at different levels, and I think it comes into play as we’re talking about that position and just the different perspective they have on it and the different angle they have on it as we have our draft meetings.”

What is arguably the biggest difference between now and the last time the Bears had a first-round pick and were in a position to draft a quarterback is at head coach. With all due respect to John Fox, having guys who played and coached the position as sounding boards figures to have its perks. Then again, Fox was adamant about wanting Deshaun Watson. So maybe that quarterback background isn’t as valuable as we might think it is.

But in the end, even if having Nagy, John DeFilippo, and Bill Lazor as part of the quarterback-scouting process is marginally better than the Fox, Dowell Loggains, Dave Ragone trio, then Chicago should be better for it.

How Pace Stacks His Board

Have you ever wondered what Ryan Pace’s draft board looks like? Well, he offered a window to it on Tuesday:

“We have our board stacked by position, then it’s stacked by we call it a value line. So, we have picks 1 through 32, picks in the second round, and the third round, so we can see how we would value and how we would stack it up in the first round. We know where there’s a line. For us, there might be 35 players that we all think are valued in the first round. There might be 28. Might be 25. Whatever it is, we know where that line is. I think for us, based on how the board falls, that’s when our game plan can change.”

I like how Pace presents this. It seems logical and thorough. And if Pace and his cohorts stay true to the board, the Bears should have a fine weekend. Assuming, of course, that the board is properly put together and things fall in Chicago’s favor.

Odds and Ends

⇒   As time goes on, we’ll look back at year’s virtual draft fondly. Hopefully, we’ll do so because Cole Kmet, Darnell Mooney, and others panned out. But also, my gut tells me we’ll look back at it in a positive light because it was one of those things that held us together during a rough stretch of time. As for the 2021 NFL Draft, Pace laid out what the return to Halas Hall looks like.

“We will be in our draft room, taking advantage of all our technology that we have in there. We’ll have 10 people in our draft room this year. We’ll be spaced out, we’ll be wearing our masks, we’ll be doing all the right things. And then we’ll have our scouting staff and our coaching staff here at Halas Hall during the three days of the draft in close proximity. Some of us our vaccinated, some of us aren’t. So we’re just kind of working through that. We’ve just gotta be smart, cautious, and careful as we go through.”

Friendly advice: Go get poked and you’ll be able to congregate with a bit more ease.

⇒   Pace took a moment to talk about Steve McMichael, who’s battling ALS: “He’s a man I’ve gotten to know in recent years. He’s absolutely one of the first guys we call every year to speak to our rookies. He epitomizes what it means to be a Bear. His passion, his drive, it always shines through every time he talks to our team. We’re all thinking about him. We’re thinking about his family, and just knowing what he’s going through.”


Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.