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Bears select Oregon State DT Paea in Round 2

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Bears select Oregon State DT Paea in Round 2

Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 6:51 p.m. Updated: 7:25 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

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A 'strong' pick for the D-line

This time the trade of their fourth-round pick went through for the Bears as they moved up in the draft to grab Oregon State strongman Stephen Paea with the 53rd pick of the draft, No. 21 of the second round.

It was that fourth-round pick that the Bears stumbled in trying to deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night to move up in Round 1. The deal broke down when the Bears did not get a call in to the league properly in time.

This time the call got there in time and the Bears moved up from No. 62 to 53 for a pick that the Washington Redskins had acquired from an earlier trade with the Indianapolis Colts.

The result was a power addition to the defensive line, 6-foot-1, 303-pound Paea, a native of Tonga who projects to replace Tommie Harris as one of the linchpins of the defensive line. The Bears addressed their two primary needs, offensive and defensive line, with their first two selections.

We feel in the first two picks of the draft, we strengthened ourselves in the trenches, said player personnel director Tim Ruskell. We feel that hes capable of doing both. Hes a guy whos very strong and very quick. Hes a high-motor player.

Paea set an NFL combine record when he bench-pressed the standard 225 pounds a very un-standard 49 times. But it was his versatility and quickness pushed him ahead of a player like North Carolinas Marvin Austin in the Bears minds.

It was kind of a no-brainer for us, Ruskell said.

Happy camper

Paea will get looks at both tackle spots but he sees himself as potentially the three-technique that Harris was for some very productive years.

Oregon State played a similar defensive scheme as the Bears and it takes one team to love me and I feel like the Chicago Bears are the right team for me, Paea said. Im blessed.

He suffered a knee injury at the Senior Bowl but described himself as 100 percent. He said he can play both nose and three-technique but projects himself as potentially more effective at the three-technique.

His role model as a player is Minnesota tackle John Randle, a Hall of Famer as a three-technique with an ability to rush the passer good enough to post 10 or more sacks in 10 straight seasons and 137.5 for his career. If Paea achieves anything close to what Randle did, the Bears will be ecstatic.

However long it takes me to get to his level, thats what I want to be in the future, Paea said.
Athletic background

Paea came to the United States as a teenager, two years after his mother moved to this country to begin working. His early sports background was primarily in rugby, which gave him some skills that transferred nicely to football.

I think rugby helped a lot, Paea said. To myself, I'm able to stay low, and you need a lot of energy for rugby. You're running at a specific way and a specific time. You could also say the same in football. So I feel like that has helped me transition easier to football.

If you're in the middle of a rugby scrum, you're getting crushed from all the force behind you. You've got to be strong in there.

Breaking right

When the draft passed No. 50, Paea came within range for the Bears. And when the New York Giants took North Carolinas Marvin Austin at No. 52, the Bears made their move.

Before that, the second round started going the Bears way early, with multiple picks at positions the Bears were not looking to address.

Two quarterbacks (Andy Dalton to Cincinnati, Colin Kaepernick to San Francisco) went in the first four picks of day two. Three linebackers went in the first 10. Two tight ends went in the span of five picks beginning with Minnesota at No. 11 of the round, 43rd overall.

With the Bears already having Gabe Carimi in the fold, they were not disappointed to that three offensive tackles went in the space of four picks beginning with Miamis Orlando Franklin at No. 46 overall to Denver.

The only defensive tackle taken through the first 19 picks of the second round was Clemsons Jarvis Jenkins, a 310-pounder more suited to nose tackle rather than the three-technique that the Bears were after.

Stay with CSNChicago.com for the latest on this developing story and all the happenings from Halas Hall from Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Ryan Pace says Bears are 'exploring every avenue' to upgrade tight end

Bears general manager Ryan Pace didn't come across as a guy willing to go down in flames with his decision to sign tight end Trey Burton back in 2018 when he met with the media at the NFL Combine on Tuesday. Instead, he confirmed the Bears will be heavily invested in the tight end market this offseason, both in free agency and the 2020 NFL draft.

"We’re looking at it in free agency and the draft," Pace said of this year's available tight ends. "It’s deep in different areas. That’s an area of focus for us, I don’t think that’s a secret. This offense, a lot of it goes through the tight end, so we’re exploring every avenue."

It's hard to envision a scenario where Pace would be willing to travel down the big-money free-agent path again, but Falcons pass-catcher Austin Hooper could be too tempting to pass up.

Atlanta confirmed on Tuesday Hooper will be allowed to test the open market, and if he ranks high enough on Pace's wish list, we could be setting up to see a $10 million per year offer. It may seem like a waste of resources to tie that much money up in the tight end position (he and Burton would cost the Bears close to $20 million in 2020), but they experienced just how limited Matt Nagy's offense is without a capable playmaker at the position. Hooper would fix that.

The cheaper alternative for Pace to upgrade at tight end would be the draft, where several quality prospects will be on the board when the Bears pick at No. 43 and No. 50 overall. Players like Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, FAU's Harrison Bryant and Notre Dame's Cole Kmet could all be available when the Bears are on the clock, and all three of them would represent a marked uptick in talent for the depth chart.

Pace is being logical and rational when it comes to his evaluation of the tight end group. It's especially impressive considering the top two options currently on the roster -- Burton and Adam Shaheen -- were hand-picked by him and cost Chicago a top-of-the-market free-agent deal and a high draft pick (second round, 2017). 

Pace has a great opportunity to right his wrongs at tight end over the next couple of months.

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

How Matt Nagy's 'urgency' could foreshadow a Bears quarterback change

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears don’t look likely to sign or trade for a true starter to replace Mitch Trubisky, and Ryan Pace made clear he expects the 2017 No. 2 overall pick to be his starter in 2020. 

Let’s add an addendum to that, though, based on something Matt Nagy said: Just because Trubisky begins 2020 as the Bears’ starting quarterback does not mean he’ll hold on to that gig for the whole season, or even for half a season. 

In talking about the need to find an offensive identity in 2020, Nagy offered a response that leads you to believe job security won't be close to where it was in 2019:

“We got to figure out what our identity is and that's going to be an objective for us,” Nagy said. “And then last year you heard me say, sometimes it takes five or six weeks. I feel like personally that's always the case, but there's a sense of urgency for us going into this year. It needs to happen sooner.”

It needs to happen sooner. What happens if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement through the first three or four games of 2020, and the Bears’ offense is lacking an identity at the end of September?

If there truly is a sense of urgency to find solutions on offense, then the Bears should consider something they didn’t last year: Changing quarterbacks. 

Chase Daniel was not on the roster to push Trubisky for playing time. He was brought in for his knowledge of the offense as “a little bit of an assistant coach,” as Nagy put it. The Bears figured surrounding Trubisky with as many resources as possible would help him thrive in Nagy’s complex offense. 

What the Bears need — and have indicated they want — is more competition in their quarterback room. That does not necessarily mean, again, luring someone like Teddy Bridgewater to Chicago to start. 

But it does mean adding someone to the roster who at least has a chance to be a better option than Trubisky, if Trubisky doesn’t show any improvement. 

Case Keenum could be that guy. Marcus Mariota, too (although Mariota sharing agents Bruce Tollner and Ryan Tollner with Trubisky could complicate any interest in him the Bears might have). Maybe there’s a trade to be made for Andy Dalton after all, if the Cincinnati Bengals are willing to bend to make the money work. 

A free agent signing along those lines and/or a draft pick — it doesn’t have to be a second rounder, either — would put someone on the roster who could be viewed as a legitimate replacement for an ineffective Trubisky. 

“If you're not creating competition around your whole roster, you're not pushing your own guys,” Nagy said.

The Bears didn’t do that at quarterback the last two years. 

But all signs are pointing to that changing in 2020. And while that may not mean an immediate change at starting quarterback, it means a switch during the season could become a real possibility. 

“If we all think that that’s what we want from (Trubisky), from last year, we’re fooling ourselves,” Nagy said. “He knows that and we know that. 

“But at the same time, we need to be real. What’s around him? And that’s where we’re at. I know it’s hard sometimes for all of us to understand that, and you see what’s going on with the instant gratification now, but there is a process for us. I do know that Mitch is very hungry. 

“He understands that we want him to play better, he understands that we want to coach better. So now we cannot worry and dwell about what happened last year. If you do that, you get stuck in the mud. We can’t do it. 

“It’s a clean slate. Now we’ve gotta get better for this year.”

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