NFL Draft: Here’s whom Bears may target in Round 2

During a quiet Thursday night, Bears GM Ryan Pace and his deputies tracked themes, comparing the number of first-round players drafted by position to the 10-year average to see which well might dry up before they draft at Nos. 43 and 50 overall Friday.

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Alabama v Auburn

Alabama safety Xavier McKinney loses his helmet against rival Auburn.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In his never-ending search for the sunny side, Bears general manger Ryan Pace answered a question about not having a first-round pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday by touting the two second-rounders he owns Friday as a result of the Khalil Mack trade.

I mean, who needs a dollar bill when you can have two quarters?

“When I think about the Khalil trade, obviously getting Mack was a priority,” he said Tuesday. “But getting that 2 back was really important for us. Fortunately, we have two 2s, and it is a deep draft. And we just gotta capitalize at that point.”

On a quiet Thursday, Pace and his deputies tracked themes, comparing the number of first-round players drafted by position to the 10-year average to see which well might dry up before they draft at Nos. 43 and 50.

The result, in the Bears’ five areas of need: Six receivers were drafted in the first round, compared to the average of 3.2 in the entire first round over the last decade. Another six cornerbacks went off the board; 1.7 had gone in the first round this decade. Six offensive linemen were taken in Round 1, matching the first-round average.

That doesn’t bode well for the Bears. What does, though: The fact that not a single tight end or safety was selected. That means Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet, a St. Viator High School alum, could be around at No. 43. So could three safeties: Alabama’s Xavier McKinney, Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield and LSU’s Grant Delpit.

Receivers who made it to Round 2 include Clemson’s Tee Higgins, USC’s Michael Pittman, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler. Cornerbacks include Alabama’s Trevon Diggs and Utah’s Jaylon Johnson.

History says Pace will trade at least one of his picks to move back and collect extra selections. He needs them. The Bears aren’t scheduled to pick between Nos. 50 and 163, which is in the fifth round.

Pace has moved down on draft day three times — all in the second round — and either traded or acquired a second-round pick in each of the last four years:

† He traded his second-round pick in 2016, No. 41, to move down eight spots and pick up the Bills’ fourth-round picks in 2016 and 2017. He then traded the ’16 pick, No. 49, to the Seahawks to move down seven spots and pick up their fourth-round pick. He took center Cody Whitehair at No. 56, a series of moves considered a resounding success.

† He dealt his second-round pick in 2017, No. 36, to move down nine spots and pick up the Cardinals’ fourth- and sixth-round picks, plus a fourth-rounder the next season.At No. 45, he took small-college tight end Adam Shaheen. He has been such a flop that his roster spot could be in jeopardy if the Bears take a tight end this weekend.

† He traded a 2018 fourth-rounder and a 2019 second-rounder to the Patriots to draft Anthony Miller in the second round of the 2018 draft, at No. 51. Miller is slated to be the Bears’ No. 2 receiver in 2020.

Pace has spent this month reaching out to general managers, but that’s not unusual. What’s strange is how the work-from-home draft could complicate trade negotiations.

Pace, though, argued that continuity within the Bears — this is his third draft with coach Matt Nagy — should make dealing a relatively smooth process.

“I think everything is efficient,” Pace said. “I think leaning on the continuity of our staff, I don’t have any concerns about us pulling off trades or being aggressive in that nature if we need to be.”

Pace didn’t have to say “if.”

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