Consider Bears GM Ryan Pace’s slow draft night a reward

SHARE Consider Bears GM Ryan Pace’s slow draft night a reward

Bears general manager Ryan Pace did not draft Thursday. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Niners general manager John Lynch’s day started with the rumor that he was ready to trade defensive lineman Solomon Thomas a mere two years after drafting him with one of the four picks the Bears gave up in the Mitch Trubisky trade.

By dinnertime in the Bay Area, he was telling reporters that the defensive lineman would “absolutely” play for the 49ers this year.

Apparently, so would kicker Robbie Gould.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said the team would not trade the kicker despite his demands to do so earlier this week. While Lynch said he hoped to work out a long-term deal, Shanahan said he understood Gould didn’t want to be there long-term.

Still, he said he’d play for the 49ers in 2019, a sobering statement for Bears fans hopeful the team would trade a pick for the privilege of paying Gould around $5 million a year to return on a white horse.

“Pretty excited to have a good kicker this year,” Shanahan told reporters.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace, meanwhile, didn’t spend the first night of the NFL Draft shooting down rumors or engaging in a public war of words with, of all people, his placekicker.

Pace didn’t have fans roll their eyes at him Thursday night, the way Raiders fans did when NFL Network guru-turned-GM Mike Mayock shocked the league with the player he picked No. 4 overall.

He didn’t do anything. Consider Pace’s slow day a reward for a job well done, then.

The Bears were without a first-round pick because of their trade for outside linebacker Khalil Mack last year, and will be without a second-rounder Friday because of the deal for wideout Anthony Miller.

Pace and Bears scouts were holed up in the new draft room at Halas Hall on Thursday to plan for their first pick on Friday night: a third-rounder, No. 87 overall. They’ll eye a running back to replace Jordan Howard — despite Pace’s insistence otherwise — or a cornerback to line up behind Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. They could use a blocking tight end or an edge rusher, too.

That they don’t need to fill a single starting position, though, speaks to the stability that followed the Bears’ 12-4 season.

The draft started with chalk — Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray to the Cardinals, Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa to the 49ers and Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to the Jets — before the Raiders steered it off the tracks.


2019 NFL Draft results: Pick by pick for the first round

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Five years after drafting Mack fourth, the Raiders took another pass-rusher at the same spot. The issue: it wasn’t Kentucky’s Josh Allen, but rather Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who most expected to be picked in the second half of the first round.

No selection all night was more shocking.

It’s unclear if Pace lived up to his promise to watch Mack highlights while the Raiders were on the clock with the Bears’ pick later in the draft. No one would have blamed him.

Part of the motivation for the Raiders shipping Mack to the Bears on Sept. 1 was the belief the team would be bad enough to make a 2019 first-rounder particularly valuable.

It was not.

When the Raiders finally spent the Bears’ first-round pick, No. 24 overall, they chose Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, considered the top running back in the draft despite starting only one game last year.

He’ll be the answer to a trivia question someday: the first part of the Raiders’ return for a man who, depending on his next few years with the Bears, could go down as one of the best defenders the game has known.

That should have given Pace plenty to smile about while the Raiders were on the clock.

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