May 13, 2021

Hub Arkush: Did Ryan Pace spill the beans at Tuesday’s press conference?

For the most part Ryan Pace never answers a question that deals with player evaluations.

I’ve had reasonably long off-the-record conversations with him where he will be more relaxed and conversational, but he’s still just not going to tip his hand.

It’s not because he’s trying to be difficult, mysterious or a bad guy. He’s actually a really good guy.

He just has this thing about competitive advantages and more so disadvantages, and appears convinced that the slightest hints of what he does or doesn’t like about any player could cost him and his team.

So it wasn’t surprising Tuesday when I promised I wasn’t going to ask him if he’s taking a quarterback but then asked him how he would compare the evaluations of the top five QBs in this draft to top 10 or top 15 picks in recent years, he made absolutely no pretense of even pretending to answer the question.

If he told us they were great and there were a couple he really loved, everyone would be betting he’s moving up to get one.

Instead, he said, “To be honest, just the depth, the totality of that group, it is deep this year. And they’re all different. Every team is going to evaluate each one of these players different.

“Every year you feel different areas of the draft where there’s depth, and sometimes we’ve been able to take advantage of that.

“I think Day 3 picks for us where there’s been depth in that area of the draft like when we took Tarik or Eddie Jackson or when we took [Darnell] Mooney last year, those were areas where I thought there was a lot of depth and it trickled into even Day 3 because of that.”

What? Did he even hear the question? Or did he actually tell us much more than he intended to?

What point was Pace making?

I believe and have practically been preaching the last three months that quarterbacks No. 2 through 5 in this draft are significantly overrated, none should be Top 10 picks even though it looks like that’s where at least three and possibly all four will go, and if the Bears goal is to be a better football team this year and contend, they’d be crazy to give up multiple high picks to get one in spite of the fact that’s what a number of respected analysts continue to suggest they will do.

Did Pace just tell us the Bears are going to draft a quarterback but it’s going to be on Day 3?

Does he have his eye on a QB or two who aren’t on most radars, much like Cohen, Jackson and Mooney weren’t when he took them?

Probably not but here’s what he said when the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer followed up and asked him specifically about the QB prospects this year outside of the top 5.

“You know, that’s where us as scouts and evaluators, that’s the exciting part – challenging ourselves to identify those guys,” Pace said. “And I feel like we have and not just quarterback in a lot of ways. The board has got to fall a certain way and you gotta stick to picking the best player available.”

Pace gave one more answer that struck me when asked if it’s imperative to find at least three more rookie starters this year as he did last year?

“Yeah, it always is as we go into it,” Pace said. “You’re also thinking now and you’re thinking about the future. I think, for us, the draft’s just about collecting talented players. Not just focusing on a need right now.

“For us, collecting the best talent we can, and that goes for any position, and just building our roster in total going forward.”

These answers certainly suggest he could be thinking like me, or he could just be blowing smoke to intentionally throw us off the track and confuse the other 31 clubs he’s competing with?

In other words, am I just hoping to find support for what I believe he absolutely should do, or in trying to say nothing did the Bears GM just tell us a lot more than he intended to?

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media