How we are grading these picks and players will be considering the following: Where the player was drafted, how much value that player gave the Bears, and the hazards the Bears avoided from not drafting a different player. However, we will not be grading these picks based on how many years this player played with the team.
10. Riley Ridley was selected with the 126th pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Ridley hasn’t contributed too much yet in the box scores, but he has made his presence felt in other places by holding down big-time blocks and making a game-winning catch and run vs the Vikings. The Bears got the best route runner in the class in the 4th round which makes this a great pick value-wise.
I also applaud Pace for not standing still and crossing his fingers for the Taylor Gabriel project to work out and for going out and grabbing a player who’s been falling through the draft like Ridley.
9. Anthony Miller was selected by Pace in the second round of the 2018 draft. This pick hasn’t been an “eye-popping” pick yet, to say the least. However, Miller has contributed quite a lot in his two years with the team.
Miller broke out onto the scene in his rookie year where he put up 7 touchdowns in a scuffed season where he dislocated his shoulder at least 3 times, an injury where in most cases it costs you your season. Miller also had a nice bounce-back second half of 2019 as he didn’t see the field much in the first half due to injuries. In the second half he really broke out vs the Lions and Packers in big-time games.
8. Nick Kwiatkoski was drafted in the 4th round in 2016 and was a pick that didn’t truly blossom until this last year. “Kwit” has always been a solid backup for this Bears defense and it wasn’t until this last season where he truly broke out onto the scene. After Danny Trevathan went down, Kwit stepped up in a huge way and right away, in almost snagging a game-icing interception in the game where he came in for an injured Trevathan.
This past season Kwit signed a long term contract which will make him the middle linebacker of the future for the Raiders. A great pick for Pace in the 4th round, especially because of the immediate value that Kwit provided.
7. Jordan Howard, the guy who looked to be the surefire RB1 of the future for the Bears. Howard broke out in his rookie year when he lodged the second-most rushing yards in the league. Howard looked to be promising in Matt Nagy’s high-speed offense until he had a bit of a slump.
In 2019 he was traded to the Eagles and looked great in his few games there, before suffering a season-ending injury. This pick would definitely be higher because Pace found huge value in a 5th round pick, but I do think that the runningback position is highly replaceable, which is why this pick isn’t higher on the list.
6. Roquan Smith was picked in the first round at #8 in 2018. Personally I thought this was such a solid pick, Smith went into the draft with a lower ceiling than most and a very high floor. Smith was essentially one of those guys that would be a day one starter off the rip. The greatness of this pick would not lie with the immense value that Smith has provided, but with the things that would follow after it.
The addition of Smith would then follow the addition of NFL superstar Khalil Mack, and if the Bears don’t go out and get Smith they would likely end up not making this move, as Pace wouldn’t have the confidence with the defense and the place that it’s in.
Photo: AP Photos