Bears

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Ryan Pace focusing on 'best player available,' at No. 3: Could that be Deshaun Watson?

Last month, Ryan Pace described his day-before-the-draft press conference as being one of the “hardest” he does all year.

With only a little over 24 hours until the Bears go on the clock with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, the third-year Bears general manager wasn’t tipping his hand while answering the media’s questions on Wednesday.

One of Pace’s overarching points, though, was that the Bears have to focus on taking the best player available at No. 3 Thursday night. Pace said the Bears have three players targeted for that spot, and what the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers do ahead of them won’t impact their decision.

What also won’t impact the Bears’ decision is the need to draft a quarterback.

“I think you get yourself into trouble if you’re not sticking with our philosophy of best player available,” Pace said. “When you start trying to manufacture things or create things, that’s when teams get into dangerous water. I think if we just stay with guys we have a consensus on and best player available we’ll be in good shape.”

Plenty of draft observers — ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris, NFL Network’s Mike Manock, CBS Sports’ Rob Rang — don’t have a quarterback in the top three of their respective “big boards,” which are headlined by the likes of Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and/or Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, among a few others.

But what if the Bears’ consensus is that a quarterback is a top-three player?

Over the last few months, Pace has consistently touted intangibles as being of prominent importance when evaluating a quarterback. At the combine in Indianapolis, he pointed to Drew Brees taking Purdue — a perennial Big Ten bottom-feeder — to a Rose Bowl. Pace, of course, knows Brees’ NFL success well having watched him in New Orleans before becoming the Bears’ general manager. 

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There’s one quarterback in this year’s draft class that could have those intangibles to be considered at No. 3: Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. 

Before Watson took over as a full-time starter in 2015, Clemson established itself as a perennial Orange Bowl contender that’d win 10 or 11 games a year. But Watson took Clemson to a different level, going 28-2 and reaching the College Football Playoff title game in 2015 (a loss to Alabama) and 2016 (a win over Alabama). 

“It's big with every position, the intangibles,” Pace said. ‘That's what I continue to stress to our guys right now, because you can get enamored with these physical qualities or these traits. There's enough good players where we don't need to change our standards.

“I really like our locker room right now. I really like the vibe right now in that locker room with the guys that we have here, it feels good, and I want to continue to add to that vibe and add to that excitement. It's up to me to impress that to our scouts and to our coaches that, hey, we've got to make sure we're adding the right kinds of guys, the right kinds of intangibles to our room.”

If Watson isn’t among the team’s consensus top three, he could fit into one of the “clouds” Pace talked about if the Bears trade down into the middle or later part of the first round. But trading down (or back into the first round) carries risk if the Bears believe Watson could be a franchise-changing quarterback. The No. 3 pick is the highest the Bears have had since the early 1970s, and it’s a position the team hardly wants to be in again.

Pace, of course, wasn’t going to reveal much the day before he and the Bears make a critically-important selection. The Bears know who they want, and Thursday night, so will everyone else.

“There’s been so much that’s come into this since August, so you’ve just trust what your eyes see and don’t over-think it,” Pace said. “Trust your conviction and trust your instincts and trust your gut.

“You can get into trouble right now if you’re up there watching additional tape and doing all that; I think you can over-scout players. By now we’ve got enough opinions. We’ve met with enough players. We’ve been through the Combine and been through the Pro Days and seen players play live. At this point we feel good. I don’t think we’re in a situation where we’re overthinking anything.”

Former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary reportedly leaves HS coaching job

Former Bears linebacker Mike Singletary reportedly leaves HS coaching job

Mike Singletary may be one of the best linebackers in NFL history, but his coaching career has not lived up to his playing days.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Singletary has stepped down from a high school coaching job in Texas after he led the team to a 1-21 record over two seasons.

According to the report, Singletary is going to focus on motivational speaking and consulting opportunities, instead of coaching football.

Singletary also coached in the Alliance of American Football for the Memphis Express in 2019, but he didn’t have much more success there. The Express went 2-6 in the lone AAF season.

As a head coach in the NFL, Singletary fared a bit better. His San Francisco 49ers went 18-22 from 2008-2010. He last coached in the NFL as defensive assistant for the Rams in 2016.

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Chicago Bears tabbed 'best value' bets for several NFL futures

Chicago Bears tabbed 'best value' bets for several NFL futures

Even though the Bears have fairly long odds to win the division, they’re being recognized as “best value” bets for several futures.

An overall regression in 2019, coupled with an upcoming quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, soured oddsmakers on the team.

As things stand on Monday morning, the Bears have the third-longest odds to win the division at +400, putting them behind the Vikings and Packers at +165 and +170, respectively.

But you can find value in picking the Bears to win the division when you look at the win total over/under futures, as well.

Right now, the Bears sit at 7.5 wins, behind the Packers at 9 wins and Vikings at 8.5. With things projected to be so tight from a win total standpoint, the Bears have been recognized as a “best value” pick to win the NFC North since their defense can steal any game on the schedule, adding a win or two and propelling them to a division crown.

Using that same logic, the Bears have also been recognized with a “best value” pick to hit the over on their 7.5 win total.

There’s no reason to think the defense will take a step back from last season-- in fact by all accounts, the squad should improve again with Robert Quinn in the fold, and Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack fully healthy again.

While things may develop a little more slowly on the offensive side due to the aforementioned QB competition, any uptick in offensive production should help the team improve on their 8-8 record from last season, making it easy to see why taking the over on 7.5 wins feels like a great value bet.

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