Bears general manager Ryan Pace threw draft analysts for a loop with his aggressive move up from 20th to 11th in the first round to select Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“I had lots of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy jokes pre-written, and the Bears just ruined them,” wrote veteran draft analyst Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders. “This was a great decision at a critical moment for that organization.”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. listed the Bears first among his “winners” in the first round.
“The Bears gave up some major [draft] capital,” Kiper wrote in his first-round review. “But I love what they got in Fields, my second-ranked quarterback, who would be in the discussion at No. 1 overall in any other year.”
Other analysts were just as impressed, though sometimes grudgingly. “The Bears finally did something right,” wrote Chet Gresham of Draftkings Nation. “Well done Chicago.”
To others, it wasn’t just a random good pick but a game changer for Pace:
“This could end up being the defining move for embattled general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy.” — The Ringer’s Dan Kelly.
“This pick may have saved the Chicago Bears.” — FanSided’s Dan Schmelzer.
Tanier, Gresham, Kelly and Schmelzer were among several media outlets that gave the Bears an A+ for the Fields pick — an indication that many analysts didn’t just like the pick, they loved it. That’s a far cry from 2017, when the Bears curiously and dubiously traded up from No. 3 to No. 2 to draft North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes on the board. Though Trubisky was high on several draft boards, the Bears trading up to select him was panned by most analysts — and they were right.
Here’s a look at just how much Pace’s fortunes have changed — at least on paper — from the night he drafted Trubisky to the Justin Fields selection. It’s pretty stark: