General Manager Ryan Pace will oversee his fourth NFL Draft for the Chicago Bears tonight, and although he has been here before, this year’s draft will be different from his previous three.
This year will be Pace’s first year of having total control of what the Bears do as he now has control of the coaching staff and the roster with his hiring of head coach Matt Nagy. In years prior, head coach John Fox’s influence may have swayed Pace from making all his decisions that he wanted, tonight is the important night he demonstrates his full control.
The Bears will have the luxury of drafting from a position of want rather than from need. Selecting at No. 8, the team has a chance to draft the best player at several positions and are not honed in on one due to positional weakness. Multiple teams drafting ahead of them are in dire need of a quarterback, allowing the Bears to select whoever they deem the best player available when they are on the clock. It is this sole reason in which Pace needs to be as precise with his choice.
There will likely be a top position player available to the Bears in the form of guard Quentin Nelson, defensive end Bradley Chubb, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, and linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds.
Whomever Pace and the Bears select, the organization better make sure that they are making the best pick possible. The last three years, criticism of Pace for the Bears’ poor performance has been shielded by coaching decisions made by Fox. Fox wasn’t really Pace’s guy so many didn’t blame Pace for the failure of Fox’s coaching tenure. With Fox now gone, if the Bears and Pace mishandle this pick and this draft, Pace will reap full blame because he will be in full control of every decision.
Last season, Pace shocked everyone including Fox when he traded up to draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The move was done in secrecy and many questioned Pace’s decision to trade up just one spot as it was believed that he was bidding against himself.
When Trubisky played this previous season, fans and pundits took the side of Pace when it became evident that the Fox coaching staff wasn’t doing the best job in developing Trubisky. With a new coach that has been hired by Pace, any draft picks that do not work out from this draft, he will be questioned heavily for his scouting and talent evaluating abilities.
Tonight is an important night for every NFL team, but the stakes are high for a general manager whose team has just 14 wins into his three year tenure. Pace has built a good core for the Bears, but he has yet to draft the player that dominants from day one. He has that chance tonight with where the team is drafting and needs to find the best player possible as everything now leads back to him.