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Ryan Pace Simply Liked Too Much About Picks to Trade

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson and tight end Cole Kmet had too many of the traits GM Ryan Pace covets in players at their positions to deal down for more picks of lesser value

Before this virtual NFL Draft, Bears GM Ryan Pace said a team can never get enough good cornerbacks.

In Friday night's second round of the draft, he made certain they had at least one more with the selection of cornerback Jaylon Johnson from Utah.

He's never said the same thing about tight ends, but it's apparent the Bears feel the same way by the fact they have 10 on the roster once again after taking Cole Kmet.

The Bears' personnel boss got the players he wanted without trading anywhere and now he'll be waiting a long time to pick again. He thinks it was worth it.

It might seem redundant for the Bears to select a tight end after they had nine already on the roster.

Pace didn't view it this way at all when he selected Kmet, the hometown hero from Notre Dame, Barrington Hills and Arlington Heights.

Rather than doing the same thing as Jimmy Graham at the U tight end position or the same thing at the Y tight end position as Demetrius Harris, Kmet is viewed by Pace as a go between, a guy who can do both.

"He pairs really well with Jimmy, pairs really well with Demetrius," Pace said late Friday after the third round of the draft ended. "We're excited to take that position and make it a strength, and they all do different things."

The Bears had the opportunity to trade down instead of choosing Kmet at No. 43, according to Pace. The same happened at No. 50 with cornerback Jaylon Johnson of Utah. Instead, for a change Pace stood his ground and selected.

In several other years, he was jumping all over the board.

On the pick used for Johnson it had to be especially difficult to turn down the trade because the wide open spaces waited after No. 50 for Pace. He has to wait all the way until the middle of Round 5 to get involved again at No. 163. The fourth-round pick went to the Patriots when the Bears moved up to take David Montgomery, and the third-round pick, of course, went for Khalil Mack.

"We had two scenarios where we could have traded back out of that (50th) pick if we needed to but when Jaylon was there we turned the card in quickly because he's a guy obviously we had (discussed) and a guy that fit our board as far as how the grades were coming off and then it was a position of need for us as well.

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"So we were really happy for that combination to take place."

Alabama's Trevon Diggs was available to the Bears at No. 50 and rather than talk down one of Nick Saban's finest, Pace instead chose to flaut the virtues of his own guy. He described Johnson along the lines of Montgomery last year: a leader with tremendous character and a team attitude.

"There's story after story," Pace said. "The film preparation, football intelligence, strength coach loves him, you go on and on and now you're watching the talented player on tape and what we want out of corners, and you combine it with the makeup and then we get into the interviews and the combine and we get really comfortable with the player and the complete package."

The same story applied to Kmet, but there was one game that showed he had arrived. It was important for Pace to point out Kmet's early lack of impact as a freshman and sophomore occurred possibly because he was also playing baseball at Notre Dame. And the came one particular football game.

"It might be the Virginia Tech game, there's a play near the sideline where he just stones somebody, he just runs over somebody," Pace said. "He's just such a dense, big body that guys are just ricocheting off of him when he's running after the catch.

"So I would say that his violence and determination to not go down after the catch where he's just dragging tacklers, he's such a big body and he's moving faster than you realize because you know he's over 6-5, so that big stride, he's covering a lot of ground and he's just crushing guys in the secondary because of his physical mindset and just his stature."

Sounds like a film of Mike Ditka in the 1960s. All Kmet needs now is the crew cut and a single bar facemask.

There was more that went into it, like the flow of the draft itself.

"Yeah, you know you're always looking at supply and demand in the draft," Pace said.

With both, they saw complete players. After that point in the draft, they saw less complete players at the position.

"For (Kmet) it's hard to find these tight ends, these Y tight ends that are really well-rounded in that he's an asset in the pass game because of his size and his hands," Pace said. "He's one of those guys that knows how to post up and body, collision and push off. He runs really well for his size.

"But his blocking—he's just got the frame and the size and the temperament, the demeanor where I think he's, we all think he’s still going to get a lot better as a blocker."

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