Bears Goal: Not to Leave 'Em Laughing

The quarterback issue is front and center for the Bears in Round 1 but Ryan Pace could pivot to tackle, cornerback or receiver if the chance to take one of the top passers is unavailable.
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The British comedy troupe Monty Python began episodes of its hysterical Flying Circus episodes with the line, "...And now for something completely different."

Bears general manager Ryan Pace is about to try something completely different.

He has to hope the whole thing doesn't turn into a farce.

  • Pace has never drafted in Round 1 from outside of the top 10, and now he has No. 20. Will he keep it or trade up for a quarterback.
  • Pace, like every NFL executive, has never had to draft after an offseason without the combine, without visits and private workouts for prospects. Has he adjusted and done the legwork?
  • Pace has never drafted a tackle higher than the sixth round but now the need cries out with Charles Leno Jr. in the last year of his contract and starting right tackle virtually a wide-open position.
  • Pace has never drafted a cornerback before Day 3, yet the need is huge for a top talent after he lost Kyle Fuller in a salary cap cut.
  • Pace has never successfully drafted a wide receiver in Round 1, but only tried once. Kevin White, his first pick, was arguably his biggest bust as a general manager. A seventh pick overall, White caught only 25 NFL passes and has been in and out of football since the Bears cut him after the 2018 season.
  • Finally, Pace has never succeeded at drafting a quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky produced like a typical third-day pick, not the second pick of the draft.

Pivoting

Pace called the offseason a series of pivot points when looking for a quarterback, and it applies to other talent.

They set their draft board up with each position assigned a round grade for a player and what they call a "value line," indicating where the talent at the position no longer allows for a selection in a specific round.

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At tackle, all predraft analyst outside of Halas Hall indicates the Bears could take Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw or Northwestern's Rashawn Slater in Round 1 if either fell to No. 20. Then they might have to decide whether to pivot to mauling run blocker Teven Jenkins from Texas A&M or even a tackle some consider a guard, USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The Bears got caught in a salary cap squeeze at cornerback and signing Desmond Trufant from the Lions gave them a player who once was in the Pro Bowl but lately has been in the trainer's room more. So they could use a top-level cornerback and the pivot points at No. 20 appear to be Northwestern's Greg Newsome or Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley. If Pace took a pick at a need position based purely on talent, Farley would almost certainly need to be his man. The position's importance calls for it, but Farley has a huge medical question with a back injury that required a rather routine surgery to repair just before spring. Backs are tricky things.

Then there is the pivot point at quarterback.

They could pivot upward as the recent trades and rumors about a possible trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to New England have almost cleared the way for a fourth or fifth quarterback to fall all the way into the second 10. The Patriots are a real road block to a top quarterback falling to 20, and so is Washington at No. 19.

Maybe the Bears watch to see if the quarterback falls to the second 10 and then move up in a trade with the Giants at 11 or Eagles at 12 to get ahead of both the Patriots and Washington for a Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones. Perhaps they trade in Round 2 or acquire an extra pick and draft Davis Mills of Stanford.

Would they make such a move up? Pace on Tuesday was asked what struck him most about this quarterback group. It wasn't the brilliance of the top five.

"To be honest, just the depth, the totality of that group, it is deep this year. And they're all different," Pace said, sounding like someone who might have a passer pinpointed from Day 2 or even Day 3.

The Ramifications

In the backdrop is the contract status of both Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

Do they have the time to develop a quarterback? Would drafting one give them an extra year on a contract extension to develop him?

The Bears like to think their defense is set to compete now, and much will be on Andy Dalton to produce so they can be division winners.

It might be too late for that already, with only 50% of the starters still remaining and almost none of the coaches from the 2018 top-ranked defense.

The quarterback position could be the great deodorizer for such problems, and for Pace considering the beating he took over the Trubisky situation.

The goal has to be to finally come up with a QB who doesn't leave 'em laughing.

Bear Digest Predictions

First round: T Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State

Second round: QB Davis Mills, Stanford

Third round: CB Elijah Molden, Washington

Day 3 Watch: WR D'Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan; DB Darren Hall, San Diego State; T Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M, NT Naquan Jones, Michigan State, TE Tre' McKitty, Georgia.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven