Bears general manager Ryan Pace sent a clear message to the NFL: Operators are standing by now to take your calls regarding deals around this year's draft.
Meaning: The Bears are more than open to trading down as early as this year’s first round.
The Bears approach the draft sitting at No. 11 in the round, and Pace said Wednesday that the team has “more than 11 names” it likes as possibilities at that spot. By the time the Bears’ turn comes Thursday night, they will have a handful of players graded good enough to warrant that pick.
That points to the Bears being willing to drop back a spot or three, secure in the knowledge that at least one of their top talent projections will still be there as they add to their quiver of nine picks right now. And because Pace said that he considers the Bears as having a range of needs, the added picks represent more bites at the talent apple.
“We have more than 11 names right now ... that we’re prepared to go with,” Pace said. “If it falls out a certain way, we have enough names where we feel comfortable if we had to go back, we could still go back and get a good player.”
How far back?
“I’ll tell you after the draft,” Pace said, laughing.
Pace declined to hint at which positions are considered the strongest in this draft. But he said that the Bears have a sense of which and how many truly elite players lie in this draft class.
The Bears set up their draft phone bank with one scout assigned to AFC teams, one to NFC teams and a third coordinating information for Pace and player personnel director Josh Lucas. The activity on those lines will ratchet up as the Bears’ 10 minutes on the clock approach sometime around 8 p.m. Thursday night.
“You can be on the clock and there are trade discussions about going back,” Pace said. “Or teams are calling. So there’s really not a lot of talk about the player you’re going to select. That’s become pretty obvious. It’s more about, ‘Hey, do we want to go back here?’ Those kinds of questions. That would be more the conversation that’s going on when you’re on the clock.”