Will Ryan Pace be aggressive with another Top Ten Bears’ draft pick?
LAKE FOREST – It was a year ago that he put his reputation on the line to bring this quarterback to town.
Now Mitchell Trubisky has the chance to be on the spectator end of the NFL Draft, firmly cemented as the franchise quarterback for the Bears. That’s why he’s taking on more of a spectator role for the 2018 selections, preferring to be a curious observer rather than an active researcher.
“You see a bunch of things about who we could get and stuff, but I really don’t know as much about the players as I could,” said Trubisky when asked about how much he’s looked into the draft. “We all believe in the front office and Ryan Pace and what Coach Nagy is doing. They’re going to do what’s right for this team.”
Once again, it’s on the General Manager to do so. With a pick in the Top Ten for a fourth-straight year, it’s one he can’t miss.
Pace will have the eighth overall selection in this year’s draft, his second lowest at the moment in his tenure. Over the last three years he’s had a reputation for aggressively pursuing players which he’s shown interest, twice making deals to move up minimal spots. In 2016, that was a trade from the No. 11 pick to No. 9 to select Leonard Floyd, and then the stunning move up from No. 3 to No. 2 to select Trubisky in 2017.
Each cost the Bears a few picks, which Pace as able to pull more deals to get restock the team’s pick for 2018, but many are wondering if the General Manager will be proactive in the trade market again.
“When we identify a guy that we like and there’s unified vision in the building of a player that we want, I don’t think we’re ever afraid to up and get that guy,” said Pace. “I’d rather do that and ensure we get that guy than he goes right before you and everybody walks out of the draft room a little bit disappointed, or what not.”
Is there a guy that could fall into that category this year? One name has repeatedly surfaced over the past few months – and he’s got a connection to the Bears.
Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is considered one of the best interior offensive lineman in the draft in a number of years and the Bears’ new offensive line coach was his with Irish. With Josh Sitton out of the picture and the team preferring to keep Cody Whitehair at center, Nelson could be a target for Pace and one worthy of moving up for on Thursday.
Then again, the Bears need some help on defense, especially at linebacker. Jerrell Freeman and Pernell McPhee are gone, while Leonard Floyd is coming off an injury that cost him the second half of the 2017 season. Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith or Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds could fit into Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme, or perhaps a safety like Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick or Florida State’s Derwin James could slide and contribute.
Maybe they lock up their future at cornerback with Denzel Ward of Ohio State, though a few projections have him going earlier.
As it did last year, plenty of options exist for possible picks for Pace, only this time he doesn’t have a quarterback to consider. That’s the only position that the general manager has ruled out in his group of eight players in his “cloud” of possible picks for the position.
“We’re not afraid to be aggressive if we need to be aggressive to get a player we’re all excited about,” said Pace, whose created at least some intrigue during his first four drafts in Chicago.