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Will the Bears make a big move in the draft?

Football fans have their own take on how easy or hard it is to move up and down in the draft. However, guessing what Ryan Pace is going to do is another matter. Should Chicago fans expect the Bears to be one of those teams that's on the move?

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Since the rookie pay scale went into effect, there have been at least 50 trades per year. The average is about 56, but 2012 saw a high of 67 trades. There have already been 30 to 33 trades for the 2016 draft, depending on which site you chose to believe, and if trends hold there will probably be at least another twenty trades over the next few months. Given how active Ryan Pace has already been, the Bears seem like likely candidates to play in these trades.

First, it's important to clarify what picks the Bears actually have. Contrary to folklore, the Bears do not have half of the picks in the sixth round. In fact, they are just shy of 10% of the sixth round, with three such picks (two of these three are conditional picks picked up for Jon Bostic and Jared Allen). They have nine total picks, and they pick in every round. If you want to figure out draft value, there is Jimmy Johnson's famous chart (among others), but because of the different landscape since 2011, it's worth looking at a few recent trades into or out of the same basic position the Bears are going to hold.

Last year, there were no trades into or out of the top twelve. The year before saw the Bills give up their 2014 pick (#9) as well as their 2015 first- and fourth-rounders in order to move up to slot #4 and draft Sammy Watkins. Less dramatically, 2013 witnessed the #3 (taking Dion Jordan) spot going to the Dolphins in exchange for #12 and #42 that year. I really don't think there's a player in this draft worth the Bears' first- and second-round picks (€”let alone two first-rounders), €”and I really hope Ryan Pace agrees with me. This team needs talent in too many different positions to invest that much importance in any one pick. Unfortunately, the last couple of years don't offer a lot of hope for people wishing the Bears could trade back a few spots and increase their talent pool that way. In fact, the moves for teams in about the Bears' position (when moves were made) were to pay up in order to move into the top five.

Things get better, from this perspective at least, looking at 2012. The Eagles gave the Seahawks their first, fourth, and sixth-round picks (#15, #114, and #172) in exchange for #12. The year before, the Jaguars gave Washington their first and second-round picks (#16 and #49) in order to move up six spots and draft Blaine Gabbert at #10. Should the Bears feel they have options on the board at #11, a trade like the one made by Seattle or Washington would be one way for Pace to get a chance to fill more holes.

Ultimately, though, over the last five years the #11 spot is not one of high interest. By the time the top ten selections are made, most teams are content to take what they have in front of them. There is movement at the top of the draft, but mostly at a level above where the Bears are sitting. Additionally, moving from where the Bears sit to a more premium spot will likely cost more than the Bears can afford to offer.

The second round gets interesting, though. Within a few picks of #41, there was the Broncos-49ers trade to draft Kaepernick at #36 (requiring, among other picks, #45 to get the deal done), the Seahawks-Jets trade of spots saw Seattle trade back from #43 and still pick up Bobby Wagner at #47 while picking up a fifth and a seventh in the same year. In 2013, the 42nd pick was part of the Dion Jordan trade referenced above, but the 40th pick was given along with a seventh-rounder and a 2014 third-rounder in order to move up to #34. The next year, the Bills moved back three spots from #41 to #44 and picked up an extra fifth-rounder for their trouble. Finally, last year saw Carolina give up their second, third, and sixth to go from #57 to #41 and pick up Devin Funchess. Picks #40 and #42 were also traded last year.

In other words, the second round has recently seen a lot of action right around where the Bears will be drafting, and it seems to be a spot where value can be leveraged by a canny GM. It is also the last point where it's even worth trying to predict what is going to happen. For the last five years, round three has been littered with trades as different teams try to find the exact right player at the cost they're willing to pay. Many of these moves don't happen until the draft itself, and some of them involve picks trading hands three or four times.

Obviously, we all hope Pace gets it right. Some of the armchair analysts among us know exactly what value we would attach to particular players. Certainly, EJ has done a fantastic job of keeping fans informed about some of the best prospects. However, the real question is not ‘what would we do,' but ‘what will Pace do?'