The Bears Will Draft a First Round Talent...
"You know, I just think if you have conviction on a player, and thats how our grades come out, you take the best player avaliable. I mean, you just, I think you gotta have convictions on our grades and where we've come and I think you
can overthink it a little bit if you get too caught up in that," -Ryan Pace entering the 2016 draft.
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has stuck to his philosophy, and continually assures and reassures the media that he fills roster needs throughout free agency in order to draft the best available player.
When putting this philosophy into perspective, observe the Cleveland Browns 2018 4th overall draft pick Denzel Ward. Although he's a prospect that had a promising rookie season, the Browns passed on Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson. Chubb- because they already had a deep D-Line, and Nelson- a Rookie that received first team all pro honors. NFL insiders speculated that Ward's skill set and physical frame limits him in the running game and in press coverage, but also has the perfect skill set to help limit Antonio Brown's production because of his ability to turn and run with receivers stride for stride. Not only did Cleveland draft a position need, but they drafted him specifically to take care of a player two times a year. Ward didn't slow down AB, AB traded himself out of the division, and the Browns let two superior players fall.
This proves Pace's approach is a superior one. Pace has shown that if he feels strongly about a prospect and they fall, he will make a move to go get them. This happened in 2018 when Pace had similar grades for James Daniel's and Anthony Miller, who both slipped further than expected, and Pace picked Daniels with the 39th overall pick. As he saw Miller fall 12 spots, he traded up with New England and took Miller with the 52nd overall pick. Pace is also willing to give up some capital and trade up to jump a franchise and draft a player on another teams radar. In 2016 the Bears traded a fourth round pick(106th overall) and their number 11 pick for Tampa Bay's number 9 pick in order move past the Giants who were targeting Lenard Floyd.
Don't forget the infamous trade in 2017 where Pace was "housed" trading up one spot(from 3rd to 2nd) with San Francisco, swapping first round picks trading two third rounders(2017 63rd and 2018 70th), and a fourth(2017 111th). What NFL insiders omitted from the story when criticizing Pace for the move to get his Quarterback, is Chicago traded down in the 2017 draft as well sending their 2nd round pick(36th) and a 7th rounder(221st) to Arizona in exchange for Arizona's 2nd rounder(45th), a couple fourth rounders(2017 119th and 2018115th), and a 2017 6th rounder (197th). Looking at the 2017 draft in hindsight, Pace swapped first rounders to get the quarterback of the future, and then swapped second rounders to rebound. Pace took a small hit in draft capital giving up 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks in exchange for a 4th and 6th in 2017; and swapping a 3rd for a 4th in 2018. But when you really boil down the 2017 draft, Chicago lost a 3rd and 7th rounder in order to ensure they draft Trubisky, and received a 6th to boot. Although Pace lost a little capital in 2017, he was far from losing in the 2017 draft. Pace had an extra fourth round pick lying around that year from Buffalo, and ended up turning Chicago's two fourth rounders into Eddie Jackson(112th overall) and Tarik Cohen(119th overall), both turning into 2018 all-pro's.
Between the extra second round pick in 2020, the compensation Chicago will receive for Jordan Howard, and Pace's history of manipulating the draft to maximize his draft capital, the Bears will be able to move up and draft a first round caliber player. Obviously Chicago doesn't have the draft capital to move into the first round, but expect them to make a move into the first half of the second round. The Raiders have the capital and the ideal position to move into (35th overall), but Mike Mayock has proven to be stingy and willing to use his leverage in his first year as the General Manager. With the Giant's receiving extra capital after the OBJ trade, Chicago could possibly finesse the 37th pick from them, but that also seems like a reach. Pace has taken a conservative approach to the 2019 free agency, being the first year he's up against the cap, but as his past reveals he is too aggressive to sit on his hands. Expect the Pace and his staff to target a few players at the bottom of the first round and and make a move into the 40th-45th pick range when a targeted player slides.
The 2019 draft will test if Pace sticks to his philosophy: best player available. It's an easier theory to follow when you had every hole to fill, but when you have minimal needs it could be more tempting to draft a player to fill a position. If the Bears come out and draft a center with their first pick, a position that's pretty locked down in Chicago, you know he's following his script.