Most NFL teams tend to build their success around the same thing. Picking great players in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft and then sprinkling in one or two good players from the later rounds and undrafted free agency. Then add a dash of veteran free agents, maybe a nice trade acquisition and you’re golden. The Chicago Bears late round success has charted a different path.
GM Ryan Pace has had his share of nice additions in those early rounds. Eddie Goldman, Mitch Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, and Roquan Smith have all become really good players for Chicago. However, what they’ve managed to do on the back end of the draft is what has propelled forward.
Not only have they found starters in that 4th to 7th round range. They’ve found stars. This may be something that happens to a team once every few years if they’re extraordinarily lucky. For the Bears, it seems to be happening regularly. Just how abnormal is this situation?
Chicago Bears late round magic is far above any other team
There are a couple of stats that showcase just how good Pace has been at this since he took over in 2015. The first is that the Bears have developed three Pro Bowlers from that bunch in Jordan Howard, Eddie Jackson, and Tarik Cohen. Thus far only eight other teams in the league have managed this feat. Seven of them had just one.
Where it really gets crazy is with another stat. In the past four drafts, the Bears have selected 16 total players on Day 3. Half of those players went on to start at least five games in their time with the teams. By contrast, there are the Baltimore Ravens. They drafted 25 total players along that same span, the most of any team in the league.
None of them have gone to a Pro Bowl and only six have started at least five games in their career. If this is validation that Pace is very good at this part of his job, it’s hard to offer any other evidence that would make a difference.