People love to get on Ryan Pace for his tenure as Chicago Bears GM. Most the anger surrounds his rather dubious track record in the 1st round. Kevin White? Leonard Floyd? Both are already off the roster, having failed to reach a second contract. Mitch Trubisky is in danger of being the third, facing an uncertain quarterback competition this summer against Nick Foles. Only Roquan Smith seems to have panned out pretty well for him.
So why is he still employed? A big reason is Pace has had a remarkable string of successes in later rounds, able to find quality players in the 2nd, 4th, and even 5th rounds. Adrian Amos was one example. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are others. Nick Kwiatkoski just earned a nice payday from the Raiders. This has sustained him thus far as GM.
So who is his best find? That player he scored for a lesser pick that turned out to be a steal. Most people probably have the same answer, which is why they’ll be surprised to hear what former GM Charley Casserly had to say on that subject.
“BEST VALUE PICK: OG/C Cody Whitehair, 2016 (Round 2, No. 56). He is a smart player who can make the calls for the unit. Most importantly, he hasn’t missed a start since he was drafted.”
Is he right about Ryan Pace? Actually yeah he is
It sounds insane at first glance. How in the world could Casserly choose Whitehair over Eddie Jackson, a 4th round pick in 2017 who blossomed into an All-Pro safety? The answer lay in how each was acquired. Something people tend to forget is the Bears actually traded down prior to drafting Whitehair. They ended up acquiring three 4th round picks in their moves down from #41 overall to #56. One of those picks would be used in another trade to get Kwiatkoski in that same draft.
One of them which they got for the 2017 draft would be packaged in a trade to move up and take…wait for it…Eddie Jackson.
So essentially the acquisition of Whitehair was so valuable that it enabled the Bears to land their star safety. So yes. Casserly is correct in the center being the best value pick of the Pace era. Not only did he become a quality center who made a Pro Bowl in 2018, but he also came with an additional three picks. Two of which turned into good players as well.