If there’s one thing that Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace knows how to do, it’s draft well. More specifically, Pace has shown a knack for finding hidden gems on day three of the NFL Draft.
Over the last few years, Pace has selected players on day three that have become notable contributors to the Chicago Bears. In fact, one could argue that Pace consistently has drafted better on day three than he has on days one and two.
Since his first NFL Draft with the Chicago Bears in 2015, here’s a list of players that have gone on to become solid players for the Bears. Some were even brought in as undrafted free agents and have excelled.
- Adrian Amos (Fifth Round, 2015)
- Nick Kwiatkoski, (Fourth Round, 2016)
- Jordan Howard, (Fifth Round,2016)
- Tarik Cohen (Fourth Round, 2017)
- Eddie Jackson (Fourth Round, 2017)
- Cameron Meredith (UDFA 2015)
- Bryce Callahan (UDFA, 2015)
- Roy Robertson-Harris (UDFA, 2016)
- Isaiah Irving (UDFA, 2017)
Of the names listed above, each one has started a handful of games in Chicago. Additionally, some like Amos and Howard worked their way up the depth chart and eventually became full-time starters.
On Sunday, when the Bears blew out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, two other players flashed potential for the Bears, further proving that Pace has a knack for finding late-round talent and hidden gems among undrafted free agents.
With starting cornerback Prince Amukamara injured, the Bears opted to start undrafted free agent Kevin Toliver II. Going into the game, many were under the assumption that Toliver would consistently be a liability on the Bears defense, as it was his first NFL start and he was facing wide receivers, Mike Evans and Desean Jackson.
However, Toliver exceeded expectations and led the team with seven tackles. As the game went on, he impressed, locking up Mike Evans.
His emergence is huge, as it looks like the Bears have found a long-term starter at the cornerback position. Under contract until 2020, Toliver will be just 25 years old when his rookie deal expires, meaning the Bears will have the option to re-sign him to a deal that will keep him in Chicago long-term. In fact, as of right now, he seems to be a great option to replace veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara once the eight-year veteran’s contract expires.
A second player that has consistently been impressive for the Bears is defensive end, Bilal Nichols. Each week, Nichols quietly is getting better and should deserve more playing time as the season goes on.
On Sunday, Nichols had his best showing of the season by amassing four tackles, 0.5 sacks, and two tackles for loss. When the Bears drafted Bilal Nichols, many questioned who he was. In fact, many had never heard his name, considering he played football at the University of Delaware. As the season progresses, the Bears will likely use Nichols in a situational basis. This means he’ll be able to come in and “clean-up” any plays for an already strong defense.
When it comes to finding valuable depth pieces for a team through the NFL Draft on day three, Ryan Pace has excelled. Names like Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, and Eddie Jackson have become household names for this team. Others like Roy Robertson-Harris that were brought in as undrafted free agents have proved that they can play at the NFL level. Now, with the skills that Toliver and Nichols showcased on Sunday, it looks as if the Ryan Pace has once again found two players who are not high draft picks that will end up being solid contributors for this team.