3 mistakes Bears, Ryan Pace need to avoid in draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally, nearly here. We are officially in 2021 NFL Draft Week. We are four days away from knowing if Andy Dalton is really going to go into the season as the uncontested QB1, or if Ryan Pace will trade up in the first round yet again to bring in a rookie quarterback. We are one day away from knowing if the Bears opt to stick at No. 20 to draft an impact player, or if they opt to move back and acquire even more draft picks. There are endless questions surrounding the Bears this draft season, and we are finally one day away from getting some answers.
Since there are so many questions, and several areas of need to address, there are many different paths Pace and the Bears can take this year in the draft. Because there are so many different things they can do, there will be several “right answers” with whatever it is they decide to do with the No. 20 pick and beyond. At the same time there are a few things Pace and the team must avoid, or they run the risk of setting the franchise back. A lot of these will seem like no-brainers, but it’s worth discussing nonetheless, because as we know, anything can happen on draft night.
Draft best player available, over positional need
We say it every year. Pace says it every year. The Bears’ plan heading into the draft needs to be picking the best player on the board, regardless of their position. Yes, quarterback, offensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback will all be circled and underlined in the war room, but they can’t focus too heavily on any of those positions. Let’s say there’s a big run on offensive lineman leading up to the Bears’ pick, Pace can’t panic and reach on a tackle beyond his grade— instead he should take advantage and scoop up a more-highly graded player at a different position. There are simply too many holes on this roster to lock into one position group.
Bears cannot miss out on a quarterback
It seems like a given that the Bears will draft a quarterback this year, but then again Pace said he thought it was a good idea to draft a quarterback every offseason, and has only done it once. To be fair, outside the 2017 draft, the Bears haven’t had a burning need for a young QB. But they do now, and will likely need to reach to get one. I know in the previous paragraph I said the team can’t panic and pick a player higher than his draft grade, but with quarterbacks that’s a different story. There’s so much scrutiny and demand surrounding the position, that reaching to grab a guy is almost necessary. But that leads us right to our next point...
Don’t mortgage the future for anyone not named Russell Wilson
If Pace decides to go all-in on a first-round quarterback, there must be a reasonable ceiling to what he gives up in order to move up. Trading the No. 20 pick, plus a third- or fourth-rounder in 2021 and future first-rounder is reasonable to take another swing at a top-tier quarterback. But giving up something like three first-rounders could spell disaster if the team can’t develop that rookie QB into a legit starter, again. Now if the rumors are true and a potential Russell Wilson deal isn’t totally dead, that’s a different story. He’s a proven commodity, and absolutely worth the multiple first-round draft pick price tag, which is more than even the most highly-touted QB prospect can say. Wilson would instantly make the Bears perennial playoff contenders and the opportunity to add a quarterback of his caliber rarely comes along.
It may seem like common sense to follow these three guidelines, but when draft day finally comes along crazy things happen, and crazy decisions are made. However, if the Bears stay the course and make reasonable moves, they could set themselves up to improve in 2021.