Will Chicago Bears GM Pace go for defense with 11th pick?
Soon the Bears will be on the clock with the 11th overall NFL draft pick in Thursday night's first round.
Prep work, which began almost a year ago, has been completed. Discussions/arguments have been talked out and countless hours of tape have been viewed. Now it's time for the Bears to trust their process and avoid paralysis through over-analysis.
"At this point you just have to calm down and make the pick and have confidence in the work you've done," Ryan Pace said as he finalizes preparation for his second draft as the Bears' general manager. "Sometimes we can have up to 10 reports on one player. So sometimes there is a lot of noise. It's my job to filter through that and take all that information -- the personality test, the character, the medical, all the interviews, the workouts -- and then make a final decision."
The Bears have played out numerous ways in which players could come off the board ahead of their pick, and their draft board has been established.
"It's set," Pace said. "Now it's just going over different scenarios."
Best guess is that the Bears go for defense with their top pick. It's a deep class of linemen, and that's a noticeable need, but the Bears also could use an impact edge rusher and help in the secondary.
Among the big guys, Louisville's Sheldon Rankins and Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson have been linked to the Bears. It's probably too much to hope Oregon's DeForest Buckner slips out of the top 10.
If it's linebacker that the Bears address first, Georgia's Leonard Floyd is considered a potential pass-rush terror, although others believe he has too much bust potential to be taken so soon. UCLA's Myles Jack is a top-five talent who should be gone before the Bears select.
The top cover corner is Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, and if he falls, the Bears would have to consider him.
A more interesting dilemma would be a player the Bears have graded in the top five who slips to them, even if it's at a position they don't consider a need -- someone such as Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"Even if it is a deep position," Pace said, "if he's special enough, and he's an impact player, we'll go ahead and pull the trigger on him."
The Bears have more than 11 players they'd be content with at the 11th spot, so depending on how many of them are still on the board after the top 10 picks, they'd be receptive to offers to trade down if the price is right.
How far would they be willing to move down?
"I'll tell you after the draft," Pace said.
Because the Bears have nine picks this year -- an extra fourth-rounder and sixth-rounder -- they also have some flexibility in trading up if that situation presents itself.
"Having nine picks, you have more ammunition to move around if you feel good about a player you want to get," Pace said. "But we have a lot of needs. I have a lot of confidence in our scouts, and having nine picks is attractive because it's having more swings."
While wide receiver isn't an immediate concern, veteran Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery is currently playing under the one-year transition tag. Jeffery has not participated in the team's voluntary off-season program, preferring to work out in Florida.
"We've been in communication with him," Pace said. "In a perfect world, would we like him to be here with his teammates and building those relationships? Sure, but I also understand it's voluntary."
Jeffery missed seven games last season with an assortment of soft-tissue injuries, but the Bears are continuing talks with his representative on a long-term deal.
"I think they understand the importance -- as we do -- of him having a healthy season," Pace said. "I know that's in the front of his mind. He signed his franchise tender so we expect him to be here for the mandatory items."
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