The short list: Decision at third overall is as simple as 1-2-3

SHARE The short list: Decision at third overall is as simple as 1-2-3
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Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen could be the top-rated player available when the Bears pick at No. 3 overall in the NFL draft Thursday night. Or not. (Tony Gutierrez, File/AP)

Three names.

Having the No. 3 overall pick simplifies matters for the Bears in one pre-draft aspect — they have three players at the top of their draft board and one of them will be available to them when the first round commences Thursday night.

No matter how unpredictable the Browns and/or 49ers might be with the first two picks, each of those teams can only pick one player.

“I think we just have to have three players we like and be prepared,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “ It’s unpredictable to know what teams are going to do. At this time of year, there’s all kinds of stuff out there — [so] just have conviction in what we believe in and the players we like and the fact that we’ve got three names, players we like, we’re good.”

Most mock drafts have the Browns taking Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. The 49ers are a wild-card under first-year general manager John Lynch, who never has been involved in evaluating personnel for an NFL team. It’s no surprise that mock drafts are all over the board on the 49ers’ pick, from Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas to North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to LSU safety Jamal Adams to LSU running back Leonard Fournette.

But no matter who the 49ers take at No. 2, the Bears will have the rest of the field at No. 3.

The Bears, as expected, are ready for changing scenarios — if they trade down from No. 3 and end up choosing later in the first round.

“We have three names that we like,” Pace said. “But … we have a cloud of names in the middle of the first round and a cloud of names in the later part of the first round. As scenarios present themselves, you can prepare — ‘Hey, if we go back mid-first round, here’s the group of players we like we think realistically will be there. If we go back later in the first round, here’s another group of players we think will realistically be there.’”

Despite the premium on franchise quarterbacks and the rarity of drafting as high as No. 3 overall, Pace indicated he would not be goaded into reaching for a potential difference-maker at No. 3 if better players are available. Clemson’s DeShaun Watson or Trubisky might be available, but the Bears are not expected to draft a quarterback at No. 3 after signing Mike Glennon in free agency.

Getting a quarterback later in the first-round in a trade-down scenario or in the second round remains a viable option. But the Bears are expected to take a player who can contribute immediately with their first draft pick.

“I think you get yourself into trouble if you’re not sticking with your philosophy of best player available,” Pace said. “When you start trying to manufacture things ore create things, that’s when teams get into dangerous water. If we just stay with guys we have consensus on and best player available, we’ll be in good shape.”

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