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Stat of the Week: Bears GM Ryan Pace makes it rain with draft trades

And now the Bears’ GM finds himself all wet.

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ryan Pace took over as general manager of the Chicago Bears in January of 2015, and his tenure has been nothing short of a disaster. While Matt Nagy will get most of the recent headlines due to his failure to develop Mitch Trubisky and the early struggles of Justin Fields, it is Pace who has consistently robbed the Bears of any ability to add talent and depth around their quarterbacks. It is Pace who has consistently thrown up roadblocks to proper quarterback development. More than anything, it’s been Pace lighting draft picks on fire year after year, leaving the cupboard bare, and the salary cap stretched thin.

How bad are the Bears at drafting? In the Pace era (since 2015) the Bears have made 24 picks in the top four rounds of the draft.

Picks in Rounds 1-4, 2015-Present

Row Labels Count of Pick
Row Labels Count of Pick
Grand Total 984
BAL 44
CLE 41
CIN 37
LVR 36
JAX 34
DAL 33
IND 33
MIN 33
NWE 33
SEA 33
DEN 32
DET 32
LAR 31
WAS 31
NYJ 30
PIT 30
SFO 30
TAM 30
ATL 29
GNB 29
MIA 29
NYG 29
TEN 29
CAR 28
KAN 28
ARI 27
LAC 27
NOR 27
HOU 26
PHI 26
CHI 24
BUF 23

Only Buffalo, at 23, has drafted fewer players, and 23 of the 32 NFL teams have had 29 or more picks. The Baltimore Ravens lead the league in that time period with 44 picks, followed by Cleveland at 41. Having an additional 20 high picks can really help a team out!

Compounding the Bears’ issues, they haven’t exactly used their 24 picks wisely. I won’t criticize Pace for selecting Mitch Trubisky or Justin Fields, but he does deserve some scorn for trading up one spot to get Trubisky when other, as it turns out better, quarterbacks would have been there for the Bears if Trubisky went off the board. And it was always pretty likely that Mitch wasn’t going off the board.

Quarterback is at least a high value position, and drafting one is almost always defensible. No, the bigger issue for Pace is that he did an awful job in putting together depth at high value positions. He’s drafted too many running backs (3), only a single tackle (Teven Jenkins, who has missed most of his rookie year with injuries), and arguably their biggest difference maker, Roquan Smith, plays a positions that just isn’t as impactful as the rest of the defense. Pace has had some poor luck too, like Kevin White’s catastrophic injury before he was able to take a snap, but the fundamental problem with not having many picks is that the bad luck hurts even more. You’re going to have errors, and if you don’t have many picks, it’s harder to recover from those errors.

But it’s one thing to just tell you all that the Bears have had too few picks and it hasn’t worked out. What does that actually look like in practice? The Packers haven’t had many more picks than Chicago in the same time frame (29 to 24), and honestly, their hit rate isn’t that much better, but you can see the impact, especially in the first round.

Round One Comparison

Round Player POS Round Player POS
Round Player POS Round Player POS
1 Justin Fields QB 1 Eric Stokes CB
1 Roquan Smith ILB 1 Jordan Love QB
1 Mitchell Trubisky QB 1 Rashan Gary LB
1 Leonard Floyd OLB 1 Darnell Savage Jr. S
1 Kevin White WR 1 Jaire Alexander CB
1 Kenny Clark DT
1 Damarious Randall S

The Bears’ first-round picks are quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mitch Trubisky, ILB Roquan Smith, OLB Leonard Floyd, and WR Kevin White. Because the Packers never ever take a first round receiver, we can’t really compare apples to apples, but let’s start by cancelling some likes. The book is still out on Fields and on Packer quarterback Jordan Love. Mitchell Trubisky was a bust, and while the Packers didn’t draft another quarterback over this time period, they did trade the troubled Damarious Randall for for Deshone Kizer, who is, if anything, sub-Trubisky, They cancel out.

Next we have Leonard Floyd, who is pretty good, though no longer a Bear. For purposes of this exercise we’ll say he cancels out Rashan Gary, though I would argue Gary is better. Let’s not split hairs.

That leaves the Bears with excellent ILB Roquan Smith and WR bust Kevin White versus the Packers’ Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, and Eric Stokes. While the book is still open on Stokes, even if he does bust you can see the huge advantage that more picks have given Green Bay, and that benefit is even stronger at the top of the draft.

The Packers and Bears have had the same number of 2nd round picks since 2015, and each team has some swings and misses. The Packers certainly have plenty to brag about with AJ Dillon and Elgton Jenkins, but there are also some bad misses with Quinten Rollins, Josh Jones, Josh Jackson, and Jason Spriggs. And what to make of Kevin King?

The Bears have some flops as well, most notably Anthony Miller and Adam Shaheen, but Jaylon Johnson is a pretty good corner, Eddie Goldman is a pretty good defensive tackle, and there is some potential on the offensive line, though it has yet to materialize.

Round 2 Comparison

Round Player POS Round Player Pos
Round Player POS Round Player Pos
2 Jaylon Johnson CB 2 Josh Myers C
2 James Daniels C 2 AJ Dillon RB
2 Anthony Miller WR 2 Elgton Jenkins G
2 Adam Shaheen TE 2 Josh Jackson DB
2 Cody Whitehair G 2 Kevin King DB
2 Eddie Goldman DT 2 Josh Jones DB
2 Teven Jenkins OL 2 Jason Spriggs T
2 Cole Kmet TE 2 Quinten Rollins CB

You can see a full round-by-round comparison here. If you take a look you’ll see the Bears outperform the Packers in some rounds, and you’ll see plenty of Packer mistakes, but overall Green Bay has performed better despite many misses simply because of volume.

There is plenty of additional ammunition available to go after Pace, from the various trades and signings of Mike Glennon, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles, to allowing a lame-duck coach to be put in charge of developing a rookie quarterback. The one thing a GM has to do above all else is manage resources properly in a hard salary cap league. Ryan Pace chose to make it rain, and morning-after regret is about to follow.