Draft ’19 takeaway: Another no-regrets Ryan Pace on-the-clock trade strike underscores “win-now” message


Draft ’19 takeaway: Another no-regrets Ryan Pace on-the-clock trade strike underscores “win-now” message

Sometimes—most times in fact—the draft goes its own way and decides in large part who is drafted where and by whom. The Bears trading up 14 slots in the third round to land Iowa State running back David Montgomery has the look of one of those occasions, as well as representing further evidence of the win-now mindset that is firmly in place at Halas Hall.

Or maybe not just “win-now” – “draft-now” as well.

As Friday’s second round finished and the third round unfolded, Montgomery was one of those hoped-for players who was within reach--in this case, on the draft board when New England’s turn approached at No. 73--and whose evaluation grade stood out above most of the prospects the Bears saw as still available.

“[Montgomery] was a player we identified on the board where that [grade-evaluation] ‘magnet’ kind of sticking out where we valued him,” said GM Ryan Pace. “And so we kind of operate with a ‘no regrets’ mindset, so let's go ahead and move up and acquire this player at that point….

“His name was sticking high enough on our board where we wanted to make sure we got him. We didn’t want to risk him going off before our pick… . It was really, seriously ‘take the best player.’ It worked out that that’s the position. This guy checks all the boxes for us not only as a player but the person that he is. The draft really fell in our favor tonight.”

It helped that the Bears and the Patriots have developed a good relationship, leading to joint training-camp practices as well as deals such as Martellus Bennett to New England, or the trade with the Patriots last draft to move up to select Anthony Miller in the 2018 second round.

The relationship mattered, because the time allowed for picks shrinks from 10 minutes in the first round to seven in the second and five in the third.

“We were working the phones right there, in that area of the draft,” Pace said. “We’ve done several trades with the Patriots now. They’re great to work with. [Patriots personnel director] Nick Caserio and coach [Bill] Belichick. And in our draft room, Joey Laine [director of football administration] does a really good job of working with me to ensure that we can make that happen.

“Because in this round, the clock’s clicking down pretty fast. It can get kind of tense as you’re getting within one minute [of needing to call in the pick]. But we made it work.”

The deal was GM Ryan Pace’s ninth in the past four drafts, which obviously does not include trading away Brandon Marshall (two months after Pace was hired) or Jordan Howard, or the deal to acquire Khalil Mack.

Throw in some lower-profile trades (Ryan Groy to New England, Dontrelle Inman from San Diego, Khari Lee from Houston) and Pace’s operating style becomes amply evident. Multiple analysts posited that the Bears would have to trade up for Montgomery, and Pace did that, marking the third time in his last four drafts (Montgomery, Mitchell Trubisky in 2017, Leonard Floyd in 2016) that he has moved up for a targeted player with his first pick in that draft.

Diminishing options, but….

The Bears also are looking for quality additions in the secondary. But 11 defensive backs went off the board in the span of the second round’s 32 picks. With the two DBs that went in the final six picks of round one, the chances of a gem falling through the cracks to the Bears down at the 23rd pick in the third round, No. 87 overall, dropped from hopeful to not-so-much. Among position groups, only the defensive line (11 in the first round alone) saw that kind of run through the first two rounds.

Meaning: Even a strong draft for defensive backs was somewhat over-picked well before that first Bears draft pick happened.

What the earlier runs on those two defensive groups did however, was to leave meat on the draft bone elsewhere. Like running back for instance. Five running backs were selected in the third round vs. only three corners and two safeties in Friday’s final round.

Exactly two running backs were taken in the first two rounds/64 picks: Alabama’s Josh Jacobs to Oakland and Penn State’s Miles Sanders to Philadelphia.

But then Darrell Henderson, a Memphis teammate of Bears wideout Anthony Miller, was gone to the Rams with pick six of the third round. Perhaps getting indications that the demand for running back was about to spike – the Buffalo Bills grabbed Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary one pick after the Bears moved on Montgomery– the Rams traded up for Tampa Bay’s slot at No. 70, giving the Buccaneers two third-round picks (94, 99) for the chance to land Henderson.

Henderson, Montgomery and Singletary made it three running backs in the span of five picks. Alabama’s Damien Harris went at No. 87, the Bears’ original spot going into the draft.

The Bears, already picks-lite by virtue of deals last year, gave the New England Patriots that pick at 87 plus a fifth-round pick (No. 162) this year and their fourth-round pick in 2020. They also received New England’s sixth-round selection at No. 205

With the 2020 first- and third-round picks given to the Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade, the Bears finished Friday with Oakland’s second-rounder in 2020, but no 1, 3 or 4.

But Pace and staff determined that getting what is likely a day-one contributing running back with versatility fixes the main shortcoming of an emerging offense under Matt Nagy, for a team that finished 12-4 but lost its wild-card playoff game when running backs accounted for just 16 touches and 63 total yards.

It is all about the win-now mentality.

“For us, I say it all the time, Matt and I say it, ‘No regrets,” Pace said. “If we see something, we identify something and we have consensus on it, then we’re going to make it happen.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Alex Brown: 'There are some clowns on this team and I don’t like it'

Alex Brown: 'There are some clowns on this team and I don’t like it'

On the Football Aftershow following the Bears Week 11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Alex Brown called out the Bears players for clowning around. You can watch the clip from the show here.

“We got to figure out who loves football because the ship will turn back again and the guys that really love football, those are the only guys you really want on the team,” Brown said. “There’s some clowns on this team. There’s some clowns and I don’t like it.”

The former Bears defensive end and Football Aftershow host isn’t one to mince words, but the harsh callout to the less-than-inspiring 2019 Bears may be reflective of how many fans are feeling at this point in the season.

Brown’s reasoning behind his clown comparisons is that the Bears only want to take ownership when they play well, but dodge responsibility whenever things go wrong.

“Anything that goes good, they want to say ‘oh I did it, its me.’" Brown explains. “You score a touchdown, get back, yes I want you to be excited, be excited with your team, but get back to the huddle.”

With so much going wrong this season, the Bears can’t avoid taking responsibility for much longer. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey talked smack to Bears wide receivers all game

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey talked smack to Bears wide receivers all game

Jalen Ramsey made his home debut for the Rams in Sunday’s win against the Bears and the former All-Pro cornerback was in a trash talking mood.

The Rams had him mic’d up for the game and made a video of Ramsey’s best quotes and moments. He came in pretty hot.

For starters, he went up against his former Jacksonville teammate, Allen Robinson, on a number of plays and enjoyed going up against him again.

“Big stop, A-Rob,” Ramsey said to Robinson after an incomplete pass. “Just like we used to do in practice, boy.”

“That double move was not it, A-Rob,” Ramsey said during another play when the ball was thrown elsewhere.

Then Taylor Gabriel became Ramsey’s target.

“Get your little ass over there,” Ramsey said to Gabriel after a break up.

When Ramsey got to the Rams sideline the trash talk continued to anyone who would listen.

“We’re not playing with nobody’s children today,” Ramsey said.

So it’s safe to say Ramsey was fired up. After the game, Ramsey talked more smack to Gabriel and got a dismissive hand gesture in response.

Good stuff, if not depressing for Bears fans.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.