Bears

Who is Ryan Pace's best draft pick as Bears general manager?

Who is Ryan Pace's best draft pick as Bears general manager?

Ryan Pace has been the Bears' general manager since 2015, and while some of his most memorable moments aren't the kind GMs want to be known for, like trading up for Mitch Trubisky in a draft class that included Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watston, he hasn't been a complete failure on draft weekend.

Former Super Bowl-winning GM of the Washington Redskins, Charley Casserly, published a scouting report of sorts for all of the league's top decision-makers that offered a somewhat positive spin on Pace's track record.

After five drafts, Pace has selected five Pro Bowlers: Tarik Cohen, Jordan Howard, Eddie Jackson, Cody Whitehair and Trubisky.

OK, so, maybe we should give him credit for four; Trubisky is entering a training-camp battle for the starting job with Nick Foles this summer. His Pro Bowl berth feels like ancient history.

According to Casserly, Roquan Smith has been Pace's best pick so far.

"He is the complete package as a linebacker," Casserly wrote of Smith, "who has the speed to cover sideline to sideline, excelling vs. the run."

Cody Whitehair checked in as Pace's best value pick after selecting the team's starting center in the second round of the 2016 draft. 

As for how Pace conducts draft weekend?

"There seems to be a very close working relationship between Pace and head coach Matt Nagy," wrote Casserly. "It is a collaborative effort between those two, as well as other scouts and coaches -- all must agree on how the player's skill set fits into the scheme. The organization believes in being aggressive to acquire players, including when they traded draft picks for Khalil Mack, traded up for safety Eddie Jackson and back for OL Cody Whitehair. Those were all good trades for the Bears."

Pace has some ammunition to make a move up the board in the 2020 NFL Draft if he so chooses. Armed with two second-round picks (Nos. 43 and 50 overall), he'll have the ability to move into the back half of the first round if a must-have player slides further than expected. This year's virtual draft environment may make trades tougher to execute, but there's no doubt Pace will be active in an attempt to slide up or down the board.

Leadership lessons Ryan Pace learned from time with Sean Payton, Saints

Leadership lessons Ryan Pace learned from time with Sean Payton, Saints

Every organization in the NFL is working hard to adapt their workflows while under COVID-19 restrictions. Rookie minicamps have already been missed. Organizations are still unable to meet as a full team, and that’s obviously a challenge. But Bears GM Ryan Pace may have a leg up due to the lessons he learned while working in the New Orleans Saints’ front office.

Pace joined Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk’s podcast “PFT PM” to explain exactly how that time in New Orleans helped to shape him as a leader, both in “normal” times and times of crisis.

“There’s no excuses in our league,” Pace said on the podcast. “That happened in New Orleans during Katrina-- really every time a hurricane came towards that city, we adapted.

“What I felt from the leadership from (Saints head coach) Sean (Payton) and (Saints GM) Mickey (Loomis) is there was never an excuse. It was: let’s adapt and let’s adjust, and that’s what we did. From 2005 to 2006, I mean that was a major shift in that team under trying times.”

Pace is referring to the Saints firing Jim Haslett and hiring Sean Payton, and installing Payton’s new systems, all while recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The Saints were incredibly successful working through those hard times too, improving from 3-13 in 2005 to 10-6 and NFC South winners in 2006.

Beyond learning to not let hard times affect his team’s success on the field, Pace says he learned a lot about how to run a team from Payton and Loomis.

“First of all, (Payton’s) very aggressive, he's not afraid to make hard decisions. He’s decisive and Mickey’s the same way: aggressive and decisive, no regrets, never looks back, not afraid to think outside the box, but also very conscious of the culture of that team.

“I think any time you drift away from that-- and it’s easy to do, and enticing to do-- but usually when you do that, once you realize you’ve done that to the locker room, the damage is already done. You try to correct yourself or police a player, the damage is already done in the locker room. So I think it’s being aggressive with the moves you make, not looking back, operating with decisiveness, but then being very conscious of the culture in the locker room.

“It’s a fine line. 12-4 to 8-8, it’s a fine line I think, because the people, the staff, the people in your building are conscious of that.”

Pace has certainly acted decisively when building his roster, trading up to draft Mitchell Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, Anthony Miller and David Montgomery.

But he later says, there’s more nuance than simply acting decisively to become an effective leader.

“When you’re making a hard decision, what’s best for the organization?” Pace said. “Not letting your ego get in the way because ‘Hey, this was your idea,’ ‘You selected this player,’ whatever it is, what’s best for the team? And sometimes those are decisions when you have to remove emotions.”

Pace has shown the ability to set aside his ego to make those hard decisions too. Most recently he opted not to pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option. He already cut Leonard Floyd. And after he didn’t offer Kyle Fuller a fifth-year option, he paid even more to keep Fuller since the cornerback proved he deserved to stay.

“For me, to be honest, I think that’s come pretty natural and pretty easy, and I think it’s because of my experience in New Orleans.”

RELATED: Why Ryan Pace ultimately decided to trade for Nick Foles

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Nick Foles' familiarity with Bears coaches, system important to Ryan Pace

Nick Foles' familiarity with Bears coaches, system important to Ryan Pace

When news leaked that the Bears had traded for Nick Foles, it sent shockwaves through the league. Many people supported the move to bring in a former Super Bowl MVP, but many others questioned the decision.

On Friday, Bears GM Ryan Pace appeared on Pro Football Talk’s podcast “PFT PM” to discuss all sorts of things the Bears have been focusing on this offseason, including what went into the decision to trade for Foles.

Part of what helped, Pace said, was the team’s overall familiarity with Foles.

“We have about four coaches on our staff that have worked with Nick and coached Nick,” Pace said on the podcast. “And at different places, which I think is valuable because they’ve seen him at different stages of his career.

“When you’re evaluating the position, obviously the film and what you see on the field is an important part of the product. But I think the knowledge of Nick behind the scenes, how he deals with adversity, what kind of teammate he is… that was huge for us. That intimate knowledge of the coaches on our staff.”

All of that is great, but when it comes down to brass tacks will that familiarity help Foles play in Nagy’s system? Pace says yes.

“As we went through all the different styles of offenses that he’s played in, what we do here in Chicago is very similar to what he was doing in Philadelphia with coach Pederson. So I think there’s a lot of commonalities there, so I think that style of play you saw in Philly with Nick-- we saw it firsthand in the playoffs-- I think that’s something you can expect to see here in Chicago.”

RELATED: Darnell Mooney says he's the all-around receiver Bears fan dream of

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