The Ryan Pace story has yet to reach it’s conclusion for the Chicago Bears, but so far it has had plenty of twists and turns, several highs and lows, it has had drama and intrigue, and even comedy and tragedy.
He had the honeymoon phase of his hiring as the Bears went into full rebuild mode.
There was the questionable move up one spot to draft a quarterback. (That one move itself had it’s own highs and lows.)
He had the high of an executive of the year award in 2018 after his team went 12-4 and won the division for the first time since 2010.
But then consecutive 8-8 seasons brought the critics out in force.
Just a few months ago his job was hanging in the balance and it took several lengthy meetings with Bears management before we got an announcement that he and head coach Matt Nagy were going to return for the 2021 season. I thought the best thing for the franchise would have been to dump them both and start fresh, but after George McCaskey and Ted Phillips collaborated with Pace and Nagy, they decided to keep the status quo and try one more time to right the ship.
And righting the ship in the National Football League is all about finding the captain (i.e. the quarterback), which is something Pace has mightily struggled with.
This entire offseason seemed to feature one strike out after another in his search for a new quarterback. There were offers reported to be made for Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson. Some negotiations obviously went further along than others, but the Bears desperation to get a QB was the talk of the league.
Pace and Nagy settled on Andy Dalton, but that never felt like the final answer, and then on Thursday, April 29, 2021, Pace patiently waited and let the board come to him before striking on the most applauded move of his Bears tenure.
Justin Fields was certainly the gem of this draft class, but Pace maneuvered again in the second round to get nasty offensive lineman Teven Jenkins, who by all accounts was a first-round talent. He double dipped on the offensive line with big Larry Borom, which will hopefully shore up the depth that was so troublesome a year ago.
After using some 2021 picks for his first two moves, he then traded back to acquire an extra day three pick to close his draft out with tough running Khalil Herbert, slot receiver Dazz Newsome, ballhawk Thomas Graham, and powerful Khyiris Tonga.
The experts were near unanimous in their praise for the class, and Sam Householder rounded up several of their grades and takes in this article.
It was certainly nice ready so much nice stuff about my favorite team, but then seeing someone do the math to calculate what all those grades meant just took it to another level of awesomeness. This data collected by René Bugner (@RNBWCV) shows that the Chicago Bears are at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft class with a 3.99 GPA.
Sure it’s not every single draft analyst out there, but that’s a heck of a popular group of draftniks that all have Pace’s class above the rest.
I’ve yet to see a negative review on what the Bears did, and while I’m sure there are some out there, I’m not about to go looking to piss myself off at an obvious troll job.
Ryan Pace went into this draft with a clear plan and he nailed it.
Grades can be arbitrary at times, so when looking at this this draft class through an analytical lens, it’s good to see the Bears come out on top as well. Yesterday I spotlighted The Athletic’s consensus big board/return on investment article that showed the Bears draft class coming out on top.
Then there’s this data that used the Over The Cap trade value chart that shows the Bears on top as well.
This is what the same chart looks like using the @Jason_OTC/@PFF_Brad Trade Value chart. Pretty similar results to the logarithmic adjustment that I apply. #GrindingTheMocks https://t.co/szSlZsfFC7 pic.twitter.com/7s7rjw9w61— Benjamin Robinson (@benj_robinson) May 2, 2021
Now this is the point when I feel obligated to mention, if only as a preemptive shot for the negative posters that are sure to pop up in the thread below, that yes...
I realize none of the grades, or the praise, or the number one rankings will mean squat if the class goes out and fails to live up to the hype.
We all realize that.
We all know how football works.
We all know games aren’t won on paper.
But there’ll be plenty of time to be disgruntled if the team stumbles once the games start up for real.
And with only 1 championships in my lifetime, I’m going to enjoy these moments of hope when I can.