LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The prevailing narrative around the Bears on Thursday was the fact that the team’s first-round draft pick had already been selected. In fact, the pick happened almost eight months earlier.
The Bears on Twitter posted a video highlighting the selection with the teaser, “We already made our 2019 first round pick. Hope you like him.” That pick was Khalil Mack, and he’s the 2020 choice, as well. The All-Pro linebacker helped take the Bears’ defense from strong to elite upon his arrival in late August 2018.
About the only disappointment in that was the fact the team sat out the first round of the 2019 draft. And thanks to a trade for Anthony Miller, the team won’t have a selection in the second round, either. Not until pick No. 87 (barring a trade) will general manager Ryan Pace get a shot to make a selection in the draft — one of five he’ll have over this weekend.
Those picks include:
- Fourth Round – No. 126
- Fifth Round – No. 162
- Seventh Round – No. 222
- Seventh Round – No. 238
It’s not the first time Pace had just five picks: He had a similar situation in 2017 when he picked up Mitchell Trubisky in the first round. Yet the number of picks doesn’t change the general manager’s thinking when it comes to selections: Get the best player.
“If we take a player that we happen to have a lot of depth right now, but it’s a good player, that’s OK,” Pace said. “I think it’s short-sighted to say, ‘Well, this guy might be able to play a little bit quicker, let’s take him.’ Let’s just take the best player. If that means it takes a little bit longer, let’s just make sure we get the best guy.”
And if that requires a trade? Pace has never been shy to make moves in the draft, including his first pick in 2016 (Leonard Floyd) and 2017 (Trubisky). Pace didn’t move into the first round Thursday, but getting into the second round might not be as unrealistic.
Then comes the issue of what the team might do with that third-round selection. A running back could be a need, considering the team traded Jordan Howard to the Eagles this offseason, but secondary depth never hurts. Edge rushers are always at a premium, as well, and the team could elect to find its replacement for Cody Parkey with one of the five picks.
At least Pace doesn’t have to build his roster in the draft like he did in the past. A championship contender is already built; now it’s time to add pieces to get the team over the hump.
“We feel fortunate with our roster right now,” Pace said. “There are no pressing, huge needs. We can honestly select the best players, and that’s a great spot to be in.”
After all, the team’s “first pick” has turned out pretty well so far.