Can we see the forest through the trees? Have we grown to only see the number behind the tackle or the catch? Do we only look at players one way? Can wins and losses dominate or completely define your perception of one’s worth? In our minds, is that the only thing that counts? Ryan Pace has drafted players of different positions and from a variety of schools since 2015.
In doing my research I started to find a consistent trait. The high quality of character became apparent throughout the Bears current roster. Most of these players are really core features for the team’s present and future. I will not in this article cover every draft pick. I will instead focus on starters or players projected to have an impact in 2018. My hope is to apply a direct connection between the man and the athlete.
2015 – The 7th overall 1st rd brings to the team Kevin White out of West Virginia . Look, White made himself into a first round pick by the way of Lackawanna College to Chicago . Bust? Not yet, given his ability to stick with it and possibly come back. It is this shining trait that defines him. Hopefully for Kevin and the Bears the best is yet to come. The 5th Rd pick Adrian Amos from Penn State self-admitted rigid family upbringing was very strict. Adrian directly attributes his home environment as a major factor in creating the man he is today!
2016 – With the 9th overall 1st Rd pick, Pace took Leonard Floyd out of Georgia. Leonard is a baseline example of all characteristics you look for in player. His High School coach and College Coach describe Leonard as humble and very polite. This personality trait followed him to Chicago along with all that talent! In 2018 can Leonard put 16+ games together? As the draft continued, Pace picked Whitehair in the 2nd Rd, Bullard in the 3rd Rd, Bush in the 4th Rd, and Jordan Howard in the 5th Rd. This galvanized the strength of character Pace seems to be targeting.
2017 offered the Bears an opportunity to draft the quarterback of the future. Mitchell Trubisky was the 2nd overall 1st Rd pick out of North Carolina. He was Mr. Ohio Football 2012 out of Mentor, Ohio playing for Mentor High School. “One of the most real, genuine things in this world is love for your family, and parents”, Mitch says. Trubisky came to the Bears somewhat reserved, ready to learn and born to lead. His quiet demeanor lasts until he hits the huddle. And it is here that the ultra competitive warrior spirit reveals a take-charge, no-nonsense leader. Then pace added Shaheen in the 2nd Rd and Eddie Jackson in the 4th Rd. Then Pace doubles down and codified one of the best examples of immeasurable highly principled players to date, Tarik Cohen! The 4th Rd dynamo personifies true perseverance only to be matched by his talent.
2018 – Pace possibly has tapped into the most iconic position in the Chicago Bears’ storied history, middle linebacker. Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher, all of which are Hall Of Fame inductees. Enter Roquan Smith. 8th overall 1st Rd pick out of Georgia. Roquan has earned his hometown’s devotion simply by displaying his moral fiber. A man who is introspective, kind and trustworthy. His instincts are magnified by his speed that propels him towards the pursuit of the ball. Then in the 2nd Rd, Pace picks James Daniels who is profound and thoughtful, and Anthony Miller who has all of Memphis in his soul. 4th Rd pick is Iyiebuniwe. 5th Rd pick is Nichols. 6th Rd pick is Fitts. 7th Rd pick is Wims. All have these important attributes.
Now, has this all been a fugazi? Maybe a trite journalistic parlor trick? Some kind of magician’s sleight of hand to steer a narrative? Or maybe Pace has always valued the athlete over the makeup of the man? Once is chance, two is a coincidence, and third time is a pattern! I think high value of character is essential and possibly underrated as it coincides with winning. Elbow to elbow, knee to knee in the trenches or on the field; it’s really all you have.
2018 Bears are being led by Coach Nagy, Long, Hicks, Acho, Trevathan, Fuller, Amukamara and every player that compiles that 53 man roster. Ryan Pace has been scrutinized every year and maybe fairly? This simple fact remains – it really is all about winning. Only one team ultimately wins the prize. THE SUPER BOWL! Maybe for now, until that day, the Bears are winning in their own way – the locker room.