Minicamps – veteran, rookie or otherwise – aren’t typically occasions for gaining rich insight into NFL teams. But after one veteran and one rookie camp, with a combined camp a month from now, one light conclusion has been distilled about what certain key individuals appear to think about their team.
Ryan Pace and, by extension, John Fox don’t consider the 2015 Bears, particularly the offense, the candidate for federal disaster relief that many do. Not that either would project the Bears into a playoff run (Fox’s mindset: under-predict, then over-deliver). But Fox at age 60 had other options besides one that would involve a massive and lengthy makeover. And he took over his first two NFL teams coming off worse win totals than the 5-11 Bears of 2014, so he has more than a passing grasp of what turnarounds involve.
[MORE BEARS: Bears need more from '4’s' in drafts after recent misses]
More notably, the Pace draft targeted only two Week 1 starters – wide receiver Kevin White, nose tackle Eddie Goldman – and did not involve take-anything or trading down just to add picks, the way a desperate-for-talent new GM would do. And at No. 7 of each round, Pace could have dipped into the trade pool.
Third-round pick Hroniss Grasu probably is the center of the future, the way 1998 third-rounder Olin Kreutz once was. But Pace was consistent about the organization sticking to its draft-board evaluations.
[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]
Why that is striking is because, as Pace explained, if two players are close in grades, he takes the need position. Wide receiver was a clear need; White also was the runaway grade winner at No. 7. Nose tackle was a need, and there was Goldman. Beyond that, not even quarterback was deemed enough of a need to cause the Bears and Pace to alter course. Pace acknowledged that No. 2 running back was a need and took Jeremy Langford in the fourth round.
But the fact that the Bears went with players targeted because of their grades rather than simply their position – i.e., need – suggests that their GM and coach don’t see the disaster-in-waiting that many outsiders do.