Ryan Pace catches a lot of grief from Chicago Bears fans. A lot of people don’t like the GM, feeling he hasn’t done enough to make the team successful. Others vehemently defend him, stating he has done plenty to help the organization rise back to respectability. Much of the criticism stems from his rather ugly track record with the Bears’ 1st round picks.

Since 2015, this is who Pace has produced:

  • Kevin White
  • Leonard Floyd
  • Mitch Trubisky
  • Roquan Smith

That’s one outright bust, a disappointing pass rusher, a non-franchise quarterback, and a promising young linebacker who ended last season with a torn pectoral. Not a good track record to say the least. Is that the reason the Bears haven’t been able to win more? Sadly, yes. While Pace’s supporters argue his success in the later rounds can’t be ignored, the reality is good teams tend to hit on the majority of their 1st round picks.

Don’t believe it? Let’s review.

Ryan Pace is way too in love with style over substance

If people go back and look at how successful or unsuccessful the Bears were in a given decade, they can trace why from their work in the 1st round of the draft. It’s remarkable how the consistency of the picking mirrors the consistency of the winning.

2000s
  • Brian Urlacher
  • David Terrell
  • Marc Columbo
  • Michael Haynes
  • Rex Grossman
  • Tommie Harris
  • Cedric Benson
  • Greg Olsen
  • Chris Williams

The decade started off with one hell of a bang, nailing a first-ballot Hall of Famer with the 9th overall pick. Then it was a considerable lull after that until they managed to nab Harris in 2004. That decade also started off with the bang with the Bears going 13-3 in 2001 before they regressed for the next three seasons. Harris’ arrival gave them the necessary boost to finally return to the playoffs in 2005. Unfortunately the string of disappointments like Columbo, Haynes, Grossman, and Benson prevented them from winning a Super Bowl in 2006. Olsen and Williams after that was a perfect encapsulation of the final stretch of that decade. Promising but not good enough.

1990s
  • Mark Carrier
  • Stan Thomas
  • Alonzo Spellman
  • Curtis Conway
  • John Thierry
  • Rashaan Salaam
  • Walt Harris
  • Curtis Enis
  • Cade McNown

It’s actually pretty wild how similar the ’90s and 2000s were. Both started really strong. In this case nabbing Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Mark Carrier. Then going on a lengthy dry spell the rest of the way, interrupted briefly by a decent pick of Conway in 1993. That led to a couple of winning seasons the next two years but after that the Bears were consistently one of the worst teams in the league. Their picks of busts like Thierry, Salaam, Enis, and McNown prove that. If people want true evidence of 1st round picks driving consistent team success, they only have to look at what the Bears did the prior decade.

1980s
  • Otis Wilson
  • Keith Van Horne
  • Jim McMahon
  • Jimbo Covert
  • Willie Gault
  • Wilber Marshall
  • William Perry
  • Neal Anderson
  • Jim Harbaugh
  • Brad Muster
  • Wendell Davis
  • Donnell Woolford
  • Trace Armstrong

This is how a team sustains itself properly. Wilson, McMahon, and Marshall were Pro Bowlers. Covert became a Hall of Famer. Van Horne, Gault, and Perry all became solid starters. That run paved the way to the Super Bowl championship in 1985. Then being able to continue securing good players like Anderson, Woolford, and Armstrong allowed them to keep reaching the playoffs through the end of the decade and into the early 90s.

The Bears haven’t come close to this kind of sustained success in the 1st round since. It’s little wonder they’ve haven’t found the same success on the field either. If Pace is indeed out after this coming season, he can look to his failures in that vital part of the draft as the reason for his downfall.