Ryan Pace Has Lacked Success Drafting Wide Receivers


The 2020 NFL Draft is two weeks away as the Chicago Bears will have one of their most important drafts of recent years. General manager Ryan Pace and his organization will have several key positions to fill on both offense and defense without a first-round draft pick. Chicago’s will need to add an impact wide receiver in the draft, but Pace has had no luck with prior picks at the position.

In his five seasons overseeing drafts, Pace has drafted a wide receiver in three of those five seasons, and four receivers total. The most recognizable wide receiver selection for the Bears general manager was the first of his career with wide receiver Kevin White in 2015. White was drafted with the seventh overall pick and was compared to Julio Jones when it came to his possibly potential. Unfortunately, he never stayed healthy playing in a total of five games in his first three seasons.

Three seasons later, Pace would trade up in the second round of the 2018 Draft to select Anthony Miller. Miller has been the most productive receiver drafted by the Bears general manager as the receiver has caught nine touchdowns in his first two seasons. Towards the end of last season, Miller recorded two 100 yard receiving games and was the team’s deep threat with Taylor Gabriel sidelined. Through his first two seasons, he has shown he can line up both outside and in the slot.

In the seventh round of the 2018 draft, Pace drafted receiver Javon Wims from Georgia. Wims has been one of the most productive offensive players during the team’s preseason games the last two seasons. He flashed in the last game of 2018, catching four passes for 32 yards inspiring hope. In 2019, Wims was expected to take on a larger role with injuries at the receiver position, but only registered 18 catches and one touchdown.

Last season, Pace drafted another Georgia wide receiver in the fourth round in Riley Ridley. Many pundits viewed Ridley as one of the steals of the draft due to his crisp route running and the ability to win 50/50 battles. In his rookie season, he appeared in just five games with his biggest catch came at the very end of the season. Ridley hauled in a 33-yard passing, which set up the game-winning field goal in the team’s season finale.

Although Pace’s receivers haven’t been bad, they have not been the impact players that he has found at other positions. He has drafted Pro-Bowl players at the running back, defensive line, and safety position enabling the team to utilize free agent money for other positions. The problem now is that the team needs to fill the deep threat void created by the departure of Gabriel, and did not address the issue in free agency.

The 2020 season is a make or break season for Pace’s front office and his coaches with the focus on the improvement of the offense. Outside of Allen Robinson and Miller, the team saw little production from other players at the position. Chicago was one of the worst teams last season at creating plays of 20 yards or longer. For Matt Nagy’s offense to be successful, the offense needs to have a deep threat receiver to stretch the field. Unless Pace can find one in the draft, the Bears may be without one in 2020.