Six hundred two days after the Bears made a franchise-defining trade for Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack, the final piece exchanged hands Saturday:
Colorado offensive lineman Arlington Hambright, whom general manager Ryan Pace drafted in the seventh round.
Hambright forever will be remembered as the answer to a trivia question — if Bears fans remember him at all. He was the second-to-last member of the blandest draft class of Pace’s tenure to date.
All seven players the Bears selected filled a need. One even warranted a parade. Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet watched St. Viator friends drive past his Arlington Heights home Saturday, honking their horns.
Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson might not get that kind of love, but he’s someone to dream on: a Week 1 starter who fell to Round 2 in part because of concerns about his surgically repaired shoulder.
The rest of the draftees, however, were familiar to only the dorkiest draftniks in the Bears’ fan base. The Bears took an edge rusher from Tulsa, a speedy receiver from Tulane and a cornerback from Georgia Southern. Their final pick, Tennessee State offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons, played his final game in front of only 2,728 people.
Small-college status doesn’t preclude him from future stardom — just ask North Carolina A&T’s Tarik Cohen — but it gives fans less to wrap their heads around at first.
This is new territory for Bears fans. In Pace’s first draft five years ago, all six players he took were from Power 5 conference schools (the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12). In 2016, his first five picks came from large schools. The next year, he drafted quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall and safety Eddie Jackson — an Alabama standout whose stock plummeted after he broke his leg — in the fourth round.
Picked in the first round in 2018, Roquan Smith was the middle linebacker for Georgia, the runner-up for the national championship. Georgia’s leading receiver, Javon Wims, landed with the Bears in Round 7. Second-round pick Anthony Miller, for whom Pace traded up, was the all-time receiving leader at Memphis.
Last year, Pace traded up to take Iowa State running back David Montgomery, who at the time was considered the one missing piece of the offense. Then he took Calvin Ridley’s brother.
This year, by comparison, is low on star power. Until you start to consider the Mack trade. And you should.
In exchange for Mack, Kmet and Hambright, the Bears gave up the following: running back Josh Jacobs (Round 1, 2019); cornerback Damon Arnette (Round 1, 2020) and receiver Bryan Edwards (Round 3, 2020). The Raiders got a sixth-round pick in 2019 from the Bears, too, which they traded for another selection, which then was traded for two more picks.
Anyone without spiky shoulder pads and silver face paint can see the deal was a victory for the Bears, particularly because Arnette was thought by some to be a third-round pick at best.
The Bears didn’t pick a quarterback this year, but they used the draft to land one. Nick Foles cost them a fourth-round pick this year — and $24 million guaranteed — in a trade with the Jaguars.
Montgomery should be partly included in the Bears’ draft haul, too. They traded their other 2020 fourth-round pick to the Patriots last year in a package for him.
Neither trade will be the heist the Mack deal appears to be, but Foles and Montgomery will contribute in a must-win season — something that would have been no guarantee for any fourth-round pick.