The last in a three-part series, breaking down Ryan Pace’s approach to the NFL Draft when it comes to prospects. Today, day three, rounds four through seven.
2015: RB Jeremy Langford (R4), S Adrian Amos (R5), T Tayo Fabuluje (R6)
2016: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (R4), S Deon Bush (R4), CB Deiondre’ Hall (R4), RB Jordan Howard (R5), S DeAndre Houston-Carson (R6), WR Daniel Braverman (R7)
2017: S Eddie Jackson (R4), RB Tarik Cohen (R4), OL Jordan Morgan (R5)
Prioritize Rounds 4-5
Under Ryan Pace, the Bears are averaging two round 4 picks per year and are currently slated to have two in 2018. They will potentially have more if Pace trades down in round 2 again, as is he wont.
The Bears also acquired a fifth round pick in the Brandon Marshall deal. These are the rounds where he likes to operate, and he has done quite well, landing five solid contributors in three years: Adrian Amos, Nick Kwiatkoski, Jordan Howard, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen.
On the flip side, Pace doesn’t seem to care much about round 6 or 7, where he has made only three picks total through three years. He’s made several trades sending these picks out.
- 6th for Khari Lee
- Throw-ins for a trade on day two that netted extra 4ths
- 6th to move up for Kwiatkoski
- Throw-in 7th to get 5th back when trading Brandon Marshall to Jets
- Conditional 2018 7th for Inman that they kept in 2018.
Don’t be surprised to see one of those traded away, perhaps to help move up for a coveted player in round 4.
Get Your Little Guys
I mentioned that Pace prioritized drafting big guys on day two, which leaves day three as his time to get the little guys.
Nine of twelve day three picks have been spent on skill position players, including seven of nine in round 4-5.
If that continues this year, expect the three picks currently slated in the 4th and 5th rounds to address WR, CB, and maybe RB or TE.
It’s worth noting that Pace’s maniacal focus on athleticism and upside hasn’t really translated to day three of the draft so far. While all of his picks (save Eddie Goldman) on days one and two tested in the top 20% athletically based on Relative Athletic Score (RAS), only Adrian Amos, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Jeremy Langford have been noticeably above average from day three.
The average score for the twelve picks is 5.03, almost a textbook definition of average (5.00 is average).
Try, Try Again
Since Pace largely waits until day three for skill position players, he’s not investing premium picks in them. Appropriately, he then tends to take a quantity over quality approach and drafts the same positions repeatedly. This approach makes sense, as picks in the lower rounds have a lower hit rate, so covering your bases with some redundancy improves your odds of addressing a hole. He’s even been willing to double dip in one draft, taking two safeties (now three with Deiondre’ Hall’s move) in 2016.
In three drafts, Pace has selected three RBs and five safeties. It’s worth noting that the volume approach hasn’t really applied at WR (only Daniel Braverman) or CB (only Deiondre’ Hall, who is now moved to safety) yet. So we could start to see those positions addressed more in 2018, perhaps with multiple day three picks for one or both of them.
Embrace the Small School
Out of Pace’s eight picks on day one and two, only Adam Shaheen has come from a school that’s not one of the “power five” conferences.
On day three, five of the twelve picks – Tarik Cohen, Deiondre’ Hall, Jordan Morgan, DeAndre Houston-Carson, and Daniel Braverman – have come from small schools, and Jordan Howard spent all but one year of his college career at a small school as well. It appears Pace is not afraid to gamble on a small school player on day three.
The Bears currently have two picks slated for round 4, and that looks like the perfect spot to take a WR and CB.
In round 5 (or if they pick up an extra fourth round pick via trade), I wouldn’t be surprised to see RB, TE, or S addressed. Thankfully, we have a bit of an idea of what the Bears should be looking for at each position.
I have spent a lot of time examining what types of WRs should fit this offseason. I already looked in detail at what WRs in the draft should fit best in the new offense, and names worth monitoring for round 4 include Keke Coutee, Michael Gallup, J’Mon Moore, and Tre’Quan Smith. If Pace looks in the later rounds, keep guys like Jonah Trinnaman, Richie James, and Davon Grayson in mind. Windy City Gridiron’s Andrew Link did a great job breaking down film on Gallup and James.
At CB, Fangio likes players who are good in press man coverage, which tends to be taller CBs with long arms. Some names who could be options in round 4 include Isaac Yiadom, Quenton Meeks, Holton Hill, D’Montre Wade, and Tony Brown, and later day 3 options include Chandon Sullivan, Taron Johnson, and Andre Chechere. Andrew Link did a more in-depth breakdown of what Fangio typically looks for in CBs, including breaking down film on Yiadom.
The Bears could use a well-rounded third running back who can be a threat both on the ground and through the air. With Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen locked in as the top two guys, this player will also have to contribute on special teams, but he will take over as the lead back should Howard get hurt. A few options here include Justin Jackson (my personal favorite as a Northwestern fan, and I think he’d be a great fit in this offense), Nyheim Hines, Royce Freeman, and Chase Edmonds. Andrew Link also looked at the film of some running backs, including Freeman and Hines.
At TE, the Bears have both an in-line guy in Adam Shaheen and a move TE in Trey Burton, so they could really look for any style of player behind those two (although a pick here became less likely when they bizarrely decided to pay Dion Sims $6M to be their 3rd TE). I think a traditional in-line TE is more likely if they draft somebody, and players like Will Dissly and Ryan Izzo are names to watch there as guys who are good blockers but have the potential to develop into more. If they look for another move TE in the mold of Burton, a couple guys who could be options are Ian Thomas and Jaylen Samuels, and I also wonder about Allan Lazard being converted to TE from WR.
If the Bears look to draft another safety, it’s hard to project what they’ll look for. There aren’t any clear patterns I can identify from the five players Pace has already drafted, which makes some sense given that they’re really playing two different positions (SS and FS). I assume they’d be looking more for a SS since Adrian Amos is in the last year of his deal, while Eddie Jackson seems locked in at FS for the next few seasons. A few strong safety prospects projected to go on day 3 include Godwin Igwebuike, Jordan Whitehead, Quin Blanding, Terrell Edmunds, and Marcus Allen.