Overall, Ryan Pace’s three-year draft history as general manager of the Bears has been above average and better than his track record in unrestricted free agency.
Pace has unearthed some gems in later rounds, such as fifth-round running back Jordan Howard. But some of his higher-round selections have yet to develop as expected, such as first-round wide receiver Kevin White, who has been plagued by injuries.
And while the success or failure of quarterback Mitch Trubisky will likely overshadow every other selection, here’s a chronological look at each of Pace’s 20 draft picks (and grade), keeping in mind that it often takes at least three years to gauge the full value of NFL players.
WR Kevin White: Pace’s very first draft pick (seventh overall) has already been called a bust, which is unfair to the player and the GM. White’s rookie season was wiped out when shin splints led to season-ending surgery before he set foot on the field. He returned in 2016 and started the first four games, making 19 catches for 187 yards, but he suffered a fractured left fibula and high ankle sprain, ending that season. He returned this year and started the opener but was lost for the season with a fractured scapula after catching 2 passes for 6 yards.
Until White gets healthy and stays healthy, he shouldn’t be written off. But it’s clear the Bears cannot count on him going forward.
NT Eddie Goldman: The second-round pick has played well enough to be considered a building block. He impressed from Day One as a rookie. His 2016 season was practically wiped out by a chronic high-ankle sprain, although he played well in the games in which he was completely healthy.
Among Bears D-linemen, Goldman’s 34 tackles this year trail only Pro Bowl candidate Akiem Hicks’ 39. At his position, much of Goldman’s value doesn’t show up on the stats sheet, but he can occupy blockers and create opportunities for linebackers.
C Hroniss Grasu: He worked his way into the starting lineup by midway through his rookie season and appeared to have a nice future. A non-contact knee injury in a training camp, however, washed out his 2016 season. That injury paved the way for rookie Cody Whitehair to replace him, and Grasu doesn’t appear to be more than a marginal C-G backup who lacks size and strength.
RB Jeremy Langford: Initially teased with flashes of big-play speed, especially as a receiver in his rookie season (22 catches, 279 yards, 12.9-yard average). But got nicked up too much and lacked toughness and ability to break tackles as a runner. Currently a free agent but got a look from the Dolphins Tuesday.
S Adrian Amos: Started 30 games in his first two seasons, almost by default. He was OK in run support but made hardly any plays on the ball. Has played his best football this season and, according to Pro Football Focus, is their second-ranked safety.
Second on the Bears with 53 tackles, he got his first career interception returned it 90 yards for a TD. He’s expected to miss Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.
OL Tayo Fabuluje: Had great size (6-foot-6, 342 pounds) and some athleticism but never really bought in. Battled weight problems and asthma. Cut before 2016 camp, the first of Pace’s picks to get whacked. Played this year for the Baltimore Brigade of the Arena Football League.
OLB Leonard Floyd: Ninth overall pick is one of the team’s very few who could become impact players because of his pass-rush talent and versatility. But he went on injured reserve after Week 10 with a knee injury. Has 11 ½ sacks in 22 games and is also effective vs. the run and in coverage.
OL Cody Whitehair: College guard-tackle was asked to step in at center a week before the season opener of his rookie season and was brilliant, starting all 16 games. Has started every game this year, including one each at left guard and right guard when Josh Sitton and Kyle Long were injured.
DL Jonathan Bullard: Will occasionally flash but then disappear for long stretches. Has yet to make a consistent impact.
LB Nick Kwiatkoski: Pulled hamstring in training camp slowed his development as a rookie but still started seven games as injury replacement and had 52 tackles, seventh on the team. Showed improvement early in Year Two but a torn chest muscle sidelined him for five games. Came back with 10 tackles and a sack vs. Packers.
S Deon Bush: Started six times as a rookie when injuries piled up and appeared to come on late in the season with a couple huge hits. Has been unable to build upon rookie season, and ankle injury prevents him from taking advantage of current opportunity with others also hurt.
DB Deiondre Hall: Is he a corner or a safety? Not even the Bears seem to know. Barely saw the field last year and has spent 2017 season on injured reserve (hamstring) but has been back at practice for two weeks. If he can’t get on the field now, in an injury-ravaged secondary, will he ever?
RB Jordan Howard: Value-wise, Pace’s best pick by far. Second in NFL as a rookie with 1,313 rushing yards and has 847 more this year, including four 100-yard games. A bellcow runner but could improve as a pass catcher.
S DeAndre Houston-Carson: Marginal special-teams contributor last year has emerged as a force in that capacity this year with a team-best 9 tackles.
WR Daniel Braverman: College overachiever who was a brief training camp star as a rookie before disappearing on the depth chart. Waived in final cutdown this year.
QB Mitch Trubisky: Second overall pick could be the future face of the franchise, but it’s difficult to assess a young player throwing to the worst group of receivers in the NFL.
Grade: B, for now, but Incomplete is more accurate until he has some weapons.
TE Adam Shaheen: Shows occasional flashes but also shows the growing pains of moving from small college to the big time. Has all the measurables and size-athleticism combo give him the benefit of the doubt.
S Eddie Jackson: Exploded with historic 75-yard-plus interception and fumble returns for TDs in Week Seven. Started every game but seems to have hit the rookie wall lately. Physicality as a tackler needs to continue improving, but is a definite keeper who has play-making ability.
RB Tarik Cohen: Burst on the scene like a meteor, making impact plays as a runner and receiver but has also been prone to negative plays, especially lately. He’s a unique talent and also dangerous as a punt and kickoff returner. Appears Bears still trying to figure out how to best use him.
OL Jordan Morgan: Stashed on I.R. in essentially a redshirt year.
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