Pace: QB Options Throughout Draft

Ryan Pace hasn't had experience drafting from outside the top 10 but the collaborative effort of this Bears group of personnel and coaches seem ready to handle a deep quarterback class.
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Bears general manager Ryan Pace views the team's situation at quarterback as ideal for bringing in a rookie.

Which draft pick is the sticky part, but it shouldn't be as difficult to find one considering the field and the way the team believes collaboration between their GM and head coach Matt Nagy is progressing on the draft front.

"I think if we did draft a quarterback, it's a good room for sure," Pace said, referring to the presence of veterans Andy Dalton and Nick Foles to work with a young player. "Those guys both have a lot of experience. A lot of different experiences, too, which I think is good.

"I think the coaching staff that we have there is strong as well."

Don't get the idea the Bears are definitely taking a quarterback, though.

"But, again, we're just going to take the best players throughout this draft," Pace said.

It went this way throughout Pace's press meeting with media via Zoom on Tuesday, two days before the Bears go on the clock. Nothing definitive, as is usual before a draft, but Pace did like the way this quarterback class shapes up.

"To be honest, just the depth, the totality of that group, it is deep this year," Pace said. "And they're all different. Every team is going to evaluate each one of these players different, no different than any position. You're not going through every position, but every year you feel different areas of the draft where there's depth, and sometimes we've been able to take advantage of that.

"I think Day 3 picks for us, where there's been depth in that area of the draft like when we took Tarik (Cohen) or Eddie Jackson or when we took (Darnell) Mooney last year, those were areas where I thought there was a lot of depth and it trickled into even Day 3 because of that."

This isn't to say the Bears would only take a Day 3 quarterback, because Pace isn't revealing anything yet about where they're leaning or what they think of the passers, unless he wants to ruin his chances to find one.

What he did say was the ability to rely on Nagy, passing game coordinator John DeFilippo, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and the full staff has been critical in evaluating those passers available.

"It's been really valuable," Pace said. "Really, for Matt, what's been cool about it is he loves the scouting process so much. Some coaches are more into it than others. So it's offense, it's defense. Matt's involved in every single position we're talking about.

"I remember last year, as we went through the corners and his passion as we went through that evaluation process and Jaylon Johnson and what it led us to. But you know what's cool about Matt and with Lazor and with Flip, I think there's certain positions I think it is valuable if you've played that position. And I think quarterback is one of those. And all three of those guys have played the (quarterback) position at different levels and I think it comes into play as we're talking about that position and just the different perspective they have on it and the different angle they have on it as we have our draft meetings."

Pace even said they're getting input on an occasional basis from team CEO Ted Phillips and chairman of the board George McCaskey, for better or worse.

"It's really just been kind of a sounding board as we go through it," Pace said. "I think part of my responsibility is making sure that our communication remains strong throughout our building. There are no surprises."

A real different aspect of this draft for the Bears and Pace is picking this late in Round 1. The Bears choose 20th. They haven't had a first-round pick since 2018 because of the Khalil Mack trade.

Pace has never picked outside the top 10, although the 2016 selection of Leonard Floyd was originally the 11th pick in Round 1 and he traded up to ninth to make the pick. Pace referred to picking outside the top 10 as "unique."

"I was just looking over the last 10 years and the players that have gone in this range of the draft," Pace said. "As you look back on the hit rates of those players, was there a common denominator, as you look at this range of the draft? It's interesting. And it is harder.

"When you're picking in the top 10, it's very easy to have 100 percent consensus throughout your building. We can have 15 reports on a player in the top 10 and everybody's got this guy pegged. But when you go further back, it gets different. I like to take everyone's opinions in and you're kind of weighing all that and then I just think as an organization we've got to be ready for every single scenario."

It leaves the Bears in a spot Pace believes can lead to anything.

"And I feel like we're in that spot, whether it's trading up, staying put, trading back — all those things are in play for us and it just comes from the preparation," he said.

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