After a focus on defense in recent drafts, Ryan Pace’s focus shifted to offense in 2017.
By the time the NFL draft opening bell rang, countless mock drafts had been published and the endless flow of speculation and prognostication were about to reach a climax. Ryan Pace would proceed to shock many with his trade and first draft pick.
One thing became apparent as the moment of truth approached, most mock drafts had the Bears going defense. Why not? As most felt it was a deep class in pass rushing defensive linemen as well as defensive backs. A trade was definitely a possibility, however, the Bears are craving a play maker and the 3rd pick is a great place to snag such a player.
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Ryan Pace just completed his 3rd draft and there is no doubt, his focus is squarely trained on scoring points. As Bear fans know, he spent 4 of 5 picks on offense. In Pace’s three drafts with the Bears, he has selected 11 offensive players vs. 9 on defense. In addition 4 of 6 picks in the first two rounds were on offense. Complete Bears draft history is here.
Many Bear fans and most of the draft experts were not only surprised but, in some cases, dismayed. The Bears, unpredictably, traded up one spot to snatch a QB. The headlines immediately following the draft were mostly negative with draft grades lower than I had seen in…well, I don’t remember that much negativity.
Oddly, I did not feel that way as I was relieved the Bears were going after a franchise QB. At #3, you go get the player that you feel will move the organization forward. Pace hid his intentions well and most felt the Bears would do what they historically have done, and that is draft defense.
Speaking of history, how do you think the Bears drafted the previous 10 years before Pace joined the organization? In the ten drafts prior to Pace (2005-2014), the Bears drafted more players on defense than offense 7 times. One year, 2013, three players were taken on each side of the ball. Only in 2005 and 2008, did the Bears lean towards offense.
In addition, during those same 10 drafts, the Bears did not have a first round pick in 3 of them. Only 2 picks, Kyle Fuller and Shea McClellin, were used on defense. After 5 of 10 first round selections used on offense during that period, one would think the Bears would have cracked the code on offense. Not so, as they selected 3 offensive linemen, 1 running back (Cedric Benson) and a future Pro Bowl Tight End, Greg Olsen. Unfortunately, Olsen was traded away during the Mike Martz experiment.
Teams and their fans tend to develop identities. With many, maybe most, Bears fans that identity leans towards defense. With Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher as the face of the franchise, who would argue? Enter Ryan Pace and Mitch Turbisky and so the transformation begins.
The Bears have not selected a first round QB since Rex Grossman. Ryan Pace is demonstrating that the time for the Bears get offensive is at hand.