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Data Entry: Reflections on the 2018 NFL Draft Haul

| May 1st, 2018

Before the draft, I looked in-depth at Ryan Pace’s draft trends from 2015-17 and used them to make predictions for what would happen in 2018. Well, it turns out Pace’s approach changed a good bit this year. Let’s look at those identified trends to see which ones were and were not followed.


Day One

  • Go get your guy. The Bears reportedly tried to trade up from pick #8 to get somebody Ryan Pace really wanted. He continues to be very aggressive targeting his chosen players at the top of the draft.
  • Replace a veteran. Every round one pick has been made to replace a high-profile veteran who recently left. That continued this year with Roquan Smith replacing Jerrell Freeman.
  • Prototype prospects. Pace loves his athletes at the top of the draft, but that changed a bit this year. Roquan Smith is still extremely athletic, but he was not the physical prototype Tremaine Edmunds was. Pace went for the better player right now instead of the player with the highest ceiling, a definite shift in approach.

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Change in Draft Strategy Signals Transition for Ryan Pace’s Chicago Bears

| April 30th, 2018

An NFL franchise does not begin the process of rebuilding until they find their quarterback. They can change coaches and front office personnel. They can turn over their roster; get younger, quicker, more athletic. But until they find the man who will play the most important position in all of sports, they can’t pretend what they are building is a team capable of contending consistently, year in, year out.

Ryan Pace has his quarterback. And he treated the 2018 NFL Draft differently because of it. No longer was the young GM looking for freakish athleticism and under-performing college guys with upside. No longer was he willing to bypass win-now needs for the myth of “best player available”. All but one of the seven players selected by Pace and his staff over three days in Dallas fit a clear and distinct need for this franchise now, today, for the 2018 campaign.

Roquan Smith, James Daniels and Anthony Miller will be in starting roles against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, September 9th. If they’re not, it’s a problem.

The Bears needed a rotational defensive end, edge rusher and more receiving help. They drafted Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts and Javon Wims respectively. None of these three are guaranteed contributors – nobody on day three is – but that doesn’t mean the Bears didn’t draft them to be. There are no developmental prospects in this group. These guys are going to be asked to play the positions they played well in college at the next level.

The outlier of the class is Joel Iyegbuniwe – an inside linebacker who will have a difficult time getting on the field this coming season, outside of special teams. But if the correlating move involves Nick Kwiatkoski moving out to the edge – a position of need – then it fits comfortably into this new draft narrative for Pace.

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Across The Middle: Bears Big Board 2.0

| April 18th, 2018

I consider myself the top Ryan Paceologist on the Bears writer landscape. My resume:

Trying to figure out who they’re targeting in the 2018 draft has me stumped. I came to the three conclusions above by looking at all of the evidence I could find and asking what made the most sense.

Picking eighth, the Bears surely aren’t going to be able to get the player they surely want and need most, edge Bradley Chubb. One must also operate under the assumption that running back Saquon Barkley will be gone.

There seems to be a good chance that four quarterbacks go within the first seven picks, but if they don’t, the top guys on this list might be gone. It’s also possible that the Bears trade back, which is why the list is more than eight players deep.

There are some good players that are going to be available. The problem I’m having is that I can construct a really strong argument against all of the top candidates. Still, one sticks out as the most likely simply because it makes the most sense.

The list:

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ATM: Guessing The Bears 2018 Big Board

| March 7th, 2018

Under Ryan Pace, the Bears have primarily targeted great athletes at positions of need in the first round. After the Combine, there’s no reason to expect that to be different this year. Here is how I suspect the team’s Big Board may look, as of today, with the assumption that top players like Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley and Minkah Fitzpatrick will already be off the board.

10. Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

It’s entirely possible that the Bears are sick of waiting for Jon Bullard to emerge. There’s no reason Bullard shouldn’t have been starting over Mitch Unrein in his second season, but it didn’t happen. The Bears need a third stud up front so they don’t run Akiem Hicks into the ground.

9.  Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley came in a bit smaller than expected and didn’t test very well, coming in the seventh SPARQ percentile. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a good receiver, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be a great one and probably not worth a top 10 pick. Still, he could be a good option for the Bears if they were to trade back into the middle of the first round. More likely, their best bet will be addressing the receiver position in free agency.

8. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Doesn’t have the size or length the Bears look for at cornerback but he’s such a great athlete, they could overlook that. Generally thought to be the best CB in the draft.

7. Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame

There’s a lot to be said about taking a guard in the top 10 but much of it could be moot if a team were to switch Nelson to tackle. Regardless, I don’t think the Bears would’ve hired the best offensive line coach in the world to take an already-polished guard in the top 10. Harry Hiestand gives the Bears the ability to take a guard in the mid-round and count on him developing into a stud so they can use their premium picks on premium positions.

6. Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

This is my personal favorite option for the Bears but he falls just short of their arm-length standard. Landry’s arms measured 32.875 inches and if you look back at Pace and Fangio’s recent histories, you’ll see that 17 of the 19 defensive line and edge players their teams have drafted have had arms measuring at least 33 inches with the only exceptions being late round picks. Is Landry close enough? I hope so, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

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ATM: Players to Watch At The Combine

| February 28th, 2018

The NFL’s annual meat market is here.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it doesn’t matter. The Bears, in particular, seem to value athleticism with their early picks and there’s no reason to think this year will be any different.

Here are a few players to watch when the combine really gets rolling later this week.


Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is generally thought to be the top wide receiver but there are questions about whether or not he deserves to be a top-10 pick.

After a 1,000-yard season as a freshman, Ridley failed to reach that mark again in his final two years. While much of the blame for that has gone to Alabama’s horrendous quarterback play, there are still questions about the wideout.

One major thing NFL teams will need to see is if Ridley is taller than six-feet, like he is listed. If he comes in shorter, teams are going to question his ability to play outside. Since 2010 only two receivers who measured under six-feet were drafted in the top-10. Neither — Tavon Austin and John Ross —  have worked out so far.

Even if he is six-foot-one, Ridley needs to show he has at least good athletic ability to create separation from defenders.

Read DBB’s Saturday Scout column on Ridley HERE.


Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

You don’t often see off-the-ball linebackers who look and move like Edmunds.

Expected to measure in at around 6’5″, 250 pounds, Edmunds is a player a lot of teams are going to want to take a close look at. In addition to his freakish size, he flies around the ball and could be a menace covering the middle of the field.

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