Chicago Bears: The good and the bad of Ryan Pace’s draft pick history

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Eddie Jackson
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

What Ryan Pace has done right

In 2018, Sporting News actually named Pace their NFL Executive of the Year. Now, I do have a theory that they just give this award to any GM who takes a really bad team to the playoffs the next year, but regardless, he won the award. A large factor in this successful year stems from his success with later round draft picks.

Some of the guys who became key contributors for the Bears that were drafted in the fourth round or later: Adrian Amos, Jordan Howard, Deon Bush, Tarik Cohen, and most notably, Eddie Jackson. This list has obviously found a lot of success with the Bears, and some are still key contributors today.

While he hasn’t done too much in terms of free agency moves, he did manage to snag Allen Robinson from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Robinson is easily the best offensive player on this team and despite being overlooked this past season, is still one of the best wideouts in the game. He finished 2019 with over 1,000 yards in the air and seven touchdown receptions.

And of course, the move that everybody remembers, the trade for Khalil Mack. This was, in my opinion, Ryan Pace’s best move of his career. A couple of first-round picks was an easy bargain for the best defender in the league and this move almost makes up for the Trubisky debacle, which I’ll touch on later. If Mack retired today, he would be remembered as one of the greatest Chicago Bears to ever play the game.

He was also responsible for the hiring of Matt Nagy, who won AP NFL Coach of the Year for that very same 2018 season. The Bears won the NFC North for the first time in over a decade and despite a small speed bump in the 2019 season, he looks like he could be the guy. Even when Vic Fangio left for a head coaching job in Denver, Pace made one of his best moves as GM by hiring former Colts HC Chuck Pagano for the defensive coordinator job.

Even in recent years, his draft luck seems to have turned around. With Chicago’s most recent first-round pick, Pace drafted Roquan Smith with the 8th overall pick and he hasn’t been a complete bust yet. He did finish the 2019 season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral, but hopefully, we’ll see him bounce back in 2020.