Bears

Re-drafting: A Bears tradition GM Ryan Pace must end

Bears

Organizations can get themselves into difficulty when they feel forced to re-draft the same positions repeatedly because of injuries or misses on picks. The Bears under new general manager Ryan Pace hope they are not falling into another of those holes, but the incoming staff felt the need for a virtual do-over from the final draft of the Phil Emery administration.

Four of the Bears’ six draft choices were at the same positions addressed in the 2014 draft. Pace and the Bears stayed on point with their draft board but four of six repeat selections cannot be excused to coincidence or grades.

Pace wasn’t aware of the organizational do-over he was transacting. “It was really best player available all the way through,” he reiterated. “That’s how it fell. We knew we had a lot of needs.”

Therein lies the problem.

This is not a good thing. Position players have cycles if they are NFL caliber. If they don’t, the team has to draft or go into free agency for their replacement too soon in the overall cycle. And re-drafting too frequently involves reaching on a pick because it is being made specifically to fill a need.

In his first draft as Bears general manager, Ryan Pace nearly did a re-draft of the 2014 class left by Emery:

2014 (round) 2015 (round)
DT Ego Ferguson (2) DT Eddie Goldman (2)
RB Ka'Deem Carey (4) RB Jeremy Langford (4)
S Brock Vereen (4) S Adrian Amos (5)
OT Charles Leno (7) OT Tayo Fabuluje (6)

Emery selected Ferguson and Will Sutton in rounds 2 and 3 last year. Because of either scheme change or performance – Ferguson fits in the 2015 plan, Sutton TBD – Pace and the Bears went into free agency to add defensive linemen Jarvis Jenkins and Ray McDonald in advance of this weekend’s draft.

 

Despite drafting Shea McClellin at No. 1 in 2012 and Jonathan Bostic at No. 2 and Khaseem Green at No. 4, the Bears needed to go into free agency for Sam Acho, Mason Foster and Pernell McPhee. Even allowing for the switch to a 3-4, this is a significant number of replacements for Bears players drafted in the first four rounds.

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But Pace is necessarily less interested than mistakes of 2014 than with improving the hit quotient for 2015.

“What I’m excited about and what we talk about is there’s a lot of opportunities still going forward,” Pace said.

Dubious do-over history

The Bears were forced to reach for offensive tackles when Jimbo Covert’s career was cut short because of back problems. The real trouble came when they reached in the 1991 first round for Stan Thomas. When Thomas proved to be a bust, the Bears were forced to use a second-round pick on Troy Auzenne 1992. When Auzenne failed to secure left tackle, the Bears used another No. 2 pick in 1994 for tackle Marcus Spears – another bust.

At wide receiver, the Bears used a No. 2 pick in 1987 for wide receiver Ron Morris. The Bears used a No. 1 the next year for Wendell Davis, which should have set them up nicely in the pre-free agency era, but both Davis and Morris were out of football with knee injuries by 1993, when the Bears used the No. 7 pick of the draft for wideout Curtis Conway.

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The Bears selected safeties in 11 of the 13 drafts from 2002-2014, using picks as high as the second and third rounds. Despite selecting Brock Vereen last year and signing Ryan Mundy last offseason, the Bears made safety a priority in 2015 free agency, signing Antrel Rolle to start, and in the draft, using a fifth-round pick on Adrian Amos from Penn State.

Ideally, Amos helps stop that repeating pattern.

“Some safeties you don’t get to see enough isolated in ‘man’ coverage a lot,” Pace said. “But you do with him. We’re going to start him out at safety and have him there. In different packages he can have different roles but he’s a safety first for us.”