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The One Guy Ryan Pace Better Not Take In The First Round Of Tonight's NFL Draft

Consistently good NFL teams trade down in the draft way more than they trade up. Exhibit A is the Patriots' draft record over the past 15 years - they have consistently made moves to increase their number of picks rather than decrease them, and that is a big reason they are good year after year after year.

Successful NFL teams are always on the lookout for a sucker who falls too hard for a prospect and is willing to give up multiple picks so that at the very least he can appear to be aggressive. Sound like someone we know? And so many members of the professional sports commentariat continue to fall for it. The local guys shouldn't feel too bad - the national guys do it too.

Because of course we remember what general manager Ryan Pace has done in the Bears' last two drafts. He has moved up. The guy who is supposedly building through the draft had all of five picks in the third one he oversaw for the Bears last year. The Packers, Vikings and Lions averaged 10 picks each.

Not a coincidence that the Packers, Vikings and Lions again finished ahead of the Bears in the NFC North this past year, for the fourth year in a row.

The evidence builds and builds that Pace isn't even an average general manager, let alone above replacement. The latest evidence? No matter how much Bears brass tries to spin it (they were at it again during Tuesday's typically worthless pre-draft press conference), they botched the tender they gave restricted free agent receiver Cam Meredith. For a million bucks more - a contract offer of $2.9 million rather than $1.9 million - they could have either signed Meredith or received a second-round pick as compensation.

Instead, they watched as New Orleans swooped in and offered him a two-year contract with more than $5 million guaranteed. They either wouldn't have done that if the Bears had properly tendered Meredith (almost certain) or the Bears would have received the pick. And the Bears, who had been forced to spend more on restricted free agent cornerback Kyle Fuller than they had planned when the Packers did the same thing with him earlier in the off-season, didn't want to do it again.

Attention, Bears beat writers. It makes absolutely no sense when a team that is short on wide receivers and flush with cap space lets a receiver asset go for nothing. Their assessment of his injury doesn't matter in the slightest! They offered him $1.9 million!

It is far more likely that Pace is under pressure to keep the payroll well under the cap, which of course translates into more money for the McCaskeys. So he figured he could get away with the lower offer to a player coming back from a serious knee injury. He figured wrong. Just like he figured wrong last year when he failed to franchise Alshon Jeffery and then watched as the receiver given away for nothing had a great season for the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

So we have ample reason to be wary of Pace heading into tonight's draft. If the Giants don't go for a quarterback at No. 2, there is a decent chance that one of the top four guys - most pundits seem to believe it is UCLA's Josh Rosen, which I don't understand but it's not the first time - will be available when the Bears pick at No. 8.

If that is the case, the team needs to make a move with a team that wants to move up to take Rosen. The Bears have way too many holes to fill to pass on an opportunity to increase their inventory of selections. We'll have our fingers crossed. Stranger things have happened, right?

If Pace stays where he is (far more likely, of course), hopefully Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson will be available. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick would not be a disaster, nor would Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. If Pace continues to operate the way he has, he has probably fallen in love with one of those guys. Worst case scenario: he is enamored of physical freak/workout warrior Tremaine Edmunds, a linebacker out of Virginia Tech who is quite simply too questionable for a top 10 pick.

If Pace stays put (I don't think even he can move up in this draft) and takes Edmunds, it may finally be time to grab a pitchfork and march on Lake Forest.


Comments welcome.

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Posted on May 13, 2021