The Chicago Bears have a first-round pick in the NFL Draft for the first time since 2018. But the toughest decision that will be made tonight has to do with where I order a pizza from. Because, as is tradition, I’ll order a pizza that will (hopefully) last me through Draft Weekend. Wish me luck!
• Save for finding a QB who can save his job, Ryan Pace’s biggest challenge is finding balance. A truncated college football season due to the pandemic led numerous top prospects to opt out. Loosened pre-draft protocols (compared to last year) still limited what coaches and talent evaluators could do in the process. But in the end, Pace has no room to make excuses. He is entering the final year of his deal and needs to use this draft to strike a balance between picking players who can help immediately, as well as in the future. If history books taught me anything, two-front war has its challenges. Hope Pace is up to the task.
• Da Bears Blog has a pair of pre-draft posts that will be worth setting aside to read this morning. For starers, Johnathan Wood’s look at the trends in the Bears’ draft approach over the years. Wood highlights some places where the Bears can unearth some draft value at different positions and points of the draft. I’m glad there is data that supports my gut feeling and what my eyes see with this being a draft that has excellent depth along the offensive line. Snagging one early would be nice, but there is value throughout and double dipping on Day 3 (where the Bears have five picks) would be wise.
• On the other side of the ball, it seems as if snagging a late-round defensive back is the move. Between Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Kindle Vildor, and Duke Shelley picks, I have some confidence the Bears can find something good late.
• Elsewhere at DBB, Andrew Dannehy rattles off 17 options for the Bears with the 20th pick. It’s a breakdown that includes five quarterbacks, four receivers, four offensive linemen, and four cornerbacks. Considering how those are the most glaring positions of need, the Bears would be wise to find playmakers at each of those positions before the weekend is up. Bonus points if any of these prospects land on Day 2. And don’t dismiss that possibility, either. The Bears ended up with TE1 with their first second-round pick in 2020, and a first-round caliber corner with their other selection.
• While wrapping your head around the idea of so many different players being possible Bears picks, Adam Jahns and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic take us into Ryan Pace’s cloud:
Who could be in the Bears' "cloud" of players at No. 20?
The Bears rank players by position and grades and we did the same with five charts.@kfishbain and I look at five premium positions.
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— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) April 29, 2021
• You’ll want to read the entire post to get a real grasp for what the Bears could be looking at later tonight. But for the sake of perspective, Chicago could be looking at a “cloud” of pick possibilities and drawing from seven different quarterbacks, 13 offensive linemen, 13 receivers, 13 cornerbacks, and 12 edge defenders with their three picks in the first two days. That should give you an idea of how many different ways this can go for us.
• Jason Lieser (Sun-Times) points out that GM Ryan Pace’s picks on the offensive side of the ball have been erratic over the years. I imagine we could say the same about any number of GMs, but it really hits home with Pace. There’s little middle ground with his offensive skill position players. For every Jordan Howard and David Montgomery, there’s a Kerrith Whyte Jr. and Jeremy Langford. Anthony Miller and Kevin White disappointed, but Darnell Mooney’s arrow is pointing way up. Cole Kmet is off to a better start to his career than Adam Shaheen. Not every pick will hit. We know that. It’s just that it would be nice to raise the floor on the bottom half of the extreme.
• Here’s a reassuring thought from Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, who writes about the Bears being in a different mindset this time around on their QB draft crusade: “Now the Bears are in do-over mode. Again. At the most important position. They have a different approach this time plus different dynamics and obstacles.” This quote from Ryan Pace speaks volumes as to where the Bears are right now, compared to where they were in 2017:
“We talk every single day. About everything. About quarterbacks and about our roster and about our staff. So those conversations are always ongoing and they’re ever-shifting and adjusting to the landscape that’s in front of us.
Some of it’s in our control. Some of it’s not in our control. It’s just exploring all the different options. … It’s been really good having him involved in those discussions. It’s been very collaborative so everybody knows what’s going on with every move we make and every turn we make.”
• Heads up, deal-seekers! Today, two of the Deals of the Day at Amazon are air fryers and stick vacuums.