General manager Ryan Pace has been studying for this test — the biggest of his career — since the start of the college football season.
Thursday, he’ll make a pick — or perhaps a trade — that he hopes will be keep the Bears from drafting as high as No. 3 anytime soon.
“There’s been so much that’s come into this since August,” Pace said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “So you’ve just trust what your eyes see and don’t overthink it.”
The Sun-Times’ Bears experts — Adam L. Jahns, Patrick Finley and Mark Potash — have done their thinking, too. Here’s who they would pick with the third selection:
LSU safety Jamal Adams
Pace said there are three players that the Bears have “consensus” on for their selection at No. 3. We think it’s Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and LSU safety Jamal Adams. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is thought to be very high on Thomas, but he could be taken off the board by the 49ers (though they are said to be very interested in LSU running back Leonard Fournette) with the second pick. It would be crazy for the Browns to pass on Garrett. So enter Adams. He’s a more complete safety than Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and possesses the intangibles that Pace and coach John Fox covet. He’s a safe pick, but a good one.
— Adam L. Jahns
Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
When Stanford coach David Shaw first watched high-school film of Thomas, he had the same opinion many NFL evaluators do now: that he was a tweener — too small to play inside. “But the more film you watch,” Shaw said Wednesday, “you just say, ‘I want this guy on my football team.’ ” Pace values athletic specimens, and Thomas is gifted enough to rush over a guard, tackle, or even a tight end. As for the tweener label, Thomas is 6-3, 273 pounds — and could probably play regularly at 285. The Bears prioritized Leonard Floyd’s explosiveness over his weight last year. They’ll do the same with Thomas.
— Patrick Finley
Alabama DL Jonathan Allen
On paper — or on tape, actually — Allen gives the Bears more of what they need: (1) likely to be the best player available; (2) significant upgrade at his position; (3) ready to be an immediate impact player; and (4) has the intangibles the Bears are looking for. Playing beside Akiem Hicks and a healthy Eddie Goldman, Allen has the chance to make those beside him better and those behind him better — pretty good bang-for-your-buck for one draft pick. That said, it’s still possible the Bears trade down.
— Mark Potash