LAKE FOREST – One thing that’s been consistent about his tenure in Chicago is his willingness to pull off trades.
Ryan Pace did so in his first year during the regular season, and in the previous four drafts before this past weekend he’d pulled off at least one deal. That included two in the first round, which has produced mixed results, at best.
Many thought the Bears’ general manager would do so when he had two second round picks just seven spots apart on Friday. But Pace didn’t pull the trigger, instead waiting till Saturday to live up to his reputation.
Pace made a pair of deals that gave him a pair of selections in the fifth round of the draft. It started by sending a 2021 fourth round pick to the Vikings for their selection at No. 155 to pick up edge rusher Trevis Gipson of Tulsa.
After sticking with his initial pick at No. 163 to take Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor, Pace went dealing again, swapping picks with the Eagles this time. He gave up both sixth round picks to get up to selection No. 173 along with swapping seventh round selections, taking receiver Darnell Mooney out of Tulane.
None of these picks came at great sacrifice compared to drafts of the past, but Pace felt like the fifth round was the right one for him.
“We felt like that area of the draft, right there in the fifth round, there was a lot of value for us, where we had players graded really high on our board,” said Pace of making the deals to get in the fifth round.
Gipson was the first of those selections as the Bears look to boslter edge rush depth behing Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Despite playing as a down defensive end with the Golden Hurricane, Pace envisions Gipson joining the outside linebacker group.
Pace said not having to give up a pick in the 2020 draft, along with the chance that the Bears get a 2021 fourth rounder as compensation at some point down the road, led the general manager to pull off a deal for a player high on their board.
On Saturday, Pace said that it was a Skype interview that sold him on Gipson, and gave him the desire to make the deal.
“You could feel the hunger – the drive and the desire to be great, passion, “said Pace of the edge rusher.
The next trade netted Pace a receiver that could potentially step in immediately in 2020 at receiver. Mooney ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine that caugth the eye of many, but it was his play during the season that earned attention from coaches in the building.
Matt Nagy pointed to his technique at the position and how it opens him up to make the big play which made the Bears covet his skills enough to make a trade
“He makes the first guy miss and when you’re able to do that and with the acceleration he has, it can turn a 12-yard gain into a home run, and a touchdown,” said Nagy of Mooney. “We like that, so it was intriguing to us and we’re ready to see a lot of it.”
Enough for Pace to live up to his reputation on the final day of the draft.