Our Pledge To You

News

Pressure? It’s only the biggest draft pick of Ryan Pace’s career

In an annual pre-draft media exercise designed to satisfy the public’s need to know without giving away any substantive information, general manager Ryan Pace saved his best for last.

Asked for specifics after acknowledging that there are quarterback traits that “scare you away,” Pace hardly missed a beat.

“Honestly . . . what I would notice is for example . . . like when I watch Larry Mayer’s mechanics — throwing the ball at training camp,” Pace said, referring to the Bears’ website writer. “That whole package scares me away.”

Pace left ’em laughing with that masterful bit of artful dodging. As we know by now, Pace has a near-perfect temperament for his job. He reacts without overreacting. He doesn’t bristle. He doesn’t get rattled. He speaks sincerely and acknowledges reality as much as any GM can.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded up to draft Mitch Trubisky. (AP)

Now we’ll see just how much Pace’s cool demeanor will pay off when it counts the most.

The Bears have the third pick in Thursday night’s draft, which increases the stakes significantly in Pace’s third draft. Not only does he have a greater responsibility to pick a winner at No. 3, but there’s a greater chance that somebody picking behind him will hit the home run he didn’t. Passing on Deshaun Watson because you already have Mike Glennon could turn out to be like passing on Michael Jordan because you already have Jim Paxson — an extreme example of a seemingly prudent move blowing up in your face.

Most of the work by Pace and his personnel staff already is done. The Bears have a list of three players they like best and one of them will be their pick. But draft day still will present opportunities, especially when teams come calling about a possible trade down. Most will be fishing, but somebody might give Pace an offer he can’t refuse. That might end up being his biggest decision of all Thursday night.

“You do feel that responsibility picking so high. But also the excitement of what it’s going to do for our team,” Pace said. “Every draft is critical. We’ve said that since we got here. The blueprint of building this team is through the draft. I don’t feel any more pressure on this draft than I did the previous two.”

Pace has done a good job of keeping it close to the vest. Once upon a time, the Bears openly courted pre-draft questions about prospects that tacitly acknowledged their interest — “[Brian Urlacher’s] going to be a heckuva player,” then-vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley said days before the 2000 draft. “Is it going to work out that we’re going to get him? I don’t know.”

But on Wednesday, Pace wasn’t asked about a single individual. Pace doesn’t play any games with the draft — not even feigning interest in a player he doesn’t want in order to drive up the price of the No. 3 pick.

For what it’s worth, mock drafts almost exclusively have the Bears taking a defensive player: LSU safety Jamal Adams; Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen; Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore; and Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas are the most popular picks.

That’s assuming the Bears keep the No. 3 pick. You just never know, which means Pace is doing his job. So far.

“There’s a buzz around Halas Hall right now — you can feel it walking around,” Pace said. “It’s a really huge opportunity for us to get better. Our scouts have been on the road since August. Coaches have put in a ton of work and now it all comes to a head.”

Follow me on Twitter
@MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

hat’s assuming the Bears keep the No. 3 pick. You just never know, which means Pace is doing his job. So far.

“There’s a buzz around Halas Hall right now — you can feel it walking around,” Pace said. “It’s a really huge opportunity for us to get better. Our scouts have been on the road since August. Coaches have put in a ton of work and now it all comes to a head.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

RELATED STORIES

Morrissey: Bears should go for QB.

Eight players who might be picked by Bears.