When the Bears’ turn on the draft clock came at No. 7 on Thursday night, Bears GM Ryan Pace was faced with a decision. He and the Bears had identified seven players they felt good about taking at No. 7, and two of them were still on the board. One was believed to be edge rusher Vic Beasley, a sack threat projected as a fit for the Bears’ evolving 3-4 scheme.
The other was an offensive player, something Pace has only occasionally been part of drafting No. 1 from his years with the New Orleans Saints.
But for Pace, in the end the “decision” in favor of West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White wasn’t much of a decision at all.
“This was an easy pick,” Pace said. “Stay true to our board, take the best player available, and let's get a playmaker. Whether it's defense or offense, let's get a playmaker in the top 10 and that's what we did.”
Whether Pace made the right decision is something the NFL will let him know beginning later this year.
The Bears may have been fielding and putting out trade feelers earlier in the draft process but they did not need their full allotted time to send in their card for the selection of White.
“[The first round has] pretty much come off how we thought it would,” Pace said, sounding like a mixture of relief, satisfaction and pure adrenalin. “We’re really choosing between two players at this point. For us it was an easy decision with Kevin White.
“Trust me, there was a lot of fist-bumping and high-fiving going on when we knew this is how it was going to unfold.”
Addressing LB needs early key
Pace and the Bears did a solid job of positioning themselves to take a true best-available at No. 7. The premium going into this offseason was upgrading the pass rush, and Pace has said on more than one occasion that you can never have too many pass rushers.
But the signings of outside rushmen Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho in particular reduced the urgency for help in the pass rush. Jared Allen has been clearly energized rushing the passer from a two-point stance and the Bears also have Lamarr Houston as a rush linebacker when he returns from a torn ACL.
Pace flexes out of his “history”
With the final No. 1 pick while Pace was a member of the New Orleans Saints’ personnel department, the Saints broke with their pattern of choosing defensive players at No. 1 and selected wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. Cooks started seven of the Saints’ first 10 games, caught 53 of the 69 passes thrown to him, netting 550 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a season-ending thumb injury.
The lesson was not lost on Pace, who demonstrated with his first pick that he is not a slave to his NFL upbringing.
Pace used his first No. 1 pick as Bears’ general manager on a wide receiver. It marked the highest wide-receiver selection by the Bears win they chose Curtis Conway out of USC with the No. 7 pick of the 1993 draft.
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Coincidentally, Conway was admittedly an unpolished receiver when he came out of USC after just two seasons. White played just the last two years at West Virginia after two seasons at Lackawanna College where he delivered a modest 36 catches for 535 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.
Pace is not concerned about any traces of “raw” with White.
“I did a lot a lot of work on that — you think about a receiver when you hear the word 'raw' and you think maybe route quickness or those things,” Pace said. “At West Virginia his route variety sometimes you question. I saw every route I needed to see from that player.
“One of the most difficult routes for a receiver to run is a comeback route. You see that from him. You see it at his pro day. You see it at his workout. If you watch enough film on him, you see all that.”