Chicago Bears: General manager Ryan Pace is now on the clock

The Chicago Bears and general manager Ryan Pace had a wild 2017 NFL Draft. Pace”s future will forever be tied to the five players he drafted.

The Chicago Bears made quite the splash on draft weekend when they traded up for North Carolina quarterback Mitchell (or Mitch) Trubisky in the first round, and then took three players from non-FBS schools during Day 2 and 3. Maybe the Bears know more than we do (which I hope is the case), but a lot of these picks left fans scratching their heads.

It’s not a stretch to say that general manager Ryan Pace will be forever defined by this draft class. If it’s a hit, Pace will be considered a hero, similar to that of the Chicago Cubs’ Theo Epstein. If the draft is a bust — well, let’s just say Pace will have to get his resume updated quickly.

In his prior two drafts, Pace has been hit and miss. In 2015, he took Kevin White in the first round and, needless to say, the jury is still out on him. He also found hidden gems like Adrian Amos (maybe), Jeremy Langford (probably not), and Hroniss Grasu (who’s hurt).

Pace’s 2016 draft class looks better (Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Jordan Howard), but included in that draft is third-rounder Jonathan Bullard, who’s looking like a bust already. With only five picks in this year’s draft, Pace cannot afford to have any misses. On the contrary, he needs all five players to turn into homeruns.

Second-rounder Adam Shaheen looks like a beast on film, but his level of competition was well-below average. Fourth-round pick Eddie Jackson comes from a much more respected conference (the SEC), but he’s already torn an ACL and has a rod inserted into his leg. With the Bears’ lengthy injury history the past few seasons, Jackson seems like a head-scratching move. In addition, Pace drafted an electrifying player in Tarik Cohen in the fourth round as well. But is a backup running back really one of the most glaring needs on the team? Isn’t a pass rusher or offensive tackle a more pressing need?

Speaking of which, Jordan Morgan (drafted in the fifth round) may turn into a fine player, but he’s a guard. If I had to pick one of the strengths of the Bears, it would probably be the interior of the offensive line with starters Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, and Kyle Long (as well as quality depth pieces such as Eric Kush). Morgan (6-3) is too small to play tackle, so where does he fit in? Will he push Sitton for the starting job, or does this signal Kyle Long will be making the switch to tackle (again)?

Obviously, the biggest player in this year’s class is Trubisky. I actually think he can be a really good player, but I don’t think the Bears had to essentially “waste” three draft picks just to get him (if you read Peter King’s article, you’ll understand why). Trubisky displays good mobility, accuracy, and competiveness. He has a chance to be the best quarterback the Bears have had in decades, but it probably won’t happen this year.

So, that brings us back to Pace. Pace will be defined by this draft class, but that doesn’t mean he’s in any danger of losing his job soon. In fact, this draft class might have extended his career (and even John Fox’s) in Chicago. The Bears are a patient team to begin with, but can you imagine what they’ll be like now that they have a potential franchise quarterback in the wings?

The team would never fire Pace or Fox after this season, because Trubisky probably won’t play much. As a result, the duo will get a free pass in 2017, and then have the 2018 season to prove their worth.

So in other words, get used to Pace and Fox, because they’ll probably be here for at least the next two seasons whether you like it or not. For Pace, his NFL future goes hand-in-hand with the five players from this draft class.

Ryan Pace, you are now on the clock.

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