Ryan Pace took the next major step in his young tenure as Bears general manager on Thursday, using the No. 7 pick of the 2015 draft to select West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, expected to start opposite Alshon Jeffery as well as replace the production traded to the New York Jets in the person of Brandon Marshall.
Pace and the Bears had options. The first six picks saw teams take two quarterbacks, a wide receiver, an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman, plus valued pass rusher Dante Fowler.
So when the Bears’ turn came, they had the options of White and edge rushers Vic Beasley from West Virginia and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree.
[NFL DRAFT PROFILE: Bears WR Kevin White]
White is 6-3, 210 pounds, and caught 109 passes for the Mountaineers last year for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“I’ve been through so much,” White said. “I’m ready to turn this city around.”
The process was not without some drama, real or imagined.
The Bears were a big part of the pre-draft blizzard of rumors and speculation. General manager Ryan Pace had said on Wednesday that he and the Bears had talked to all of the teams above them and some of those below No. 7, so it was not a complete surprise that the Bears were reported to be one of the teams talking to the Tennessee Titans and their No. 2 overall pick.
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One scenario had the Bears looking to deal quarterback Jay Cutler as part of a package to move up in order to pick Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, whom the Bears had brought to Halas Hall as one of their pre-draft visits. The Titans reportedly did not want Cutler in the deal, although Tennessee GM Ruston Webster denied the reports.
The Bears’ pick at No. 7 could have been used justifiably on either side of the football.
The Bears finished 30th in yardage allowed last season and 31st in points given up, coming on the heels of a dismal 2013 in which they also were 30th in both points and yardage allowed. They ranked no higher than 16th in any of the main defensive categories last season and the problems were both deep and consistent: 11 Bears opponents scored 20 or more points, including three with more than 40.
The offense failed to average 20 points per game for the first time since Kyle Orton and the 2005 playoff season. Over the final five games the Bears scored 17-15-14-9 points, with the lone exception being 28 against the Dallas Cowboys when the Bears trailed 38-7 before scoring 21 points in a throwaway fourth quarter.