David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune makes a savvy observation about Bears general manager Ryan Pace‘s first NFL draft pick:
“General manager Ryan Pace did what he vowed to do, taking the player at the top of his draft board at the time of the pick regardless of position. That White plays wide receiver on a team that needs to replace Brandon Marshall falls under the category of convenient. The Bears don’t need this White knight to save the offense but he will arrive with an opportunity to contribute immediately opposite Alshon Jeffery.”
“In selecting White over any one of the available pass-rushers, Pace punctuated his first draft with pragmatism. The NFL’s youngest GM didn’t arrive at Halas Hall determined to prove how smart he was or impress his new bosses. He took the gimme, proving that sometimes grasping the obvious is an underrated skill for executives.
“‘This was an easy pick,’ Pace said.”
White is a talented guy with a high ceiling. I’m not going to say he’s perfect and I’m not too sure the Bears wouldn’t have been better off with defensive tackle Danny Shelton as a safer pick who could still deliver a high impact. Even as he praises the pick, Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com provides relevant criticism:
“[I]t is disturbing that in the one season he played at Lackawanna Junior College – he sat out the 2010 season with a shoulder injury and missed 2011 because he missed the deadline for financial aid – he caught just 36 passes and he only caught 35 passes his first year at West Virginia.
“The bigger concern is that West Virginia plays a stripped down version of the spread offense in which White was only asked to run a handful of routes. He’s never had to make sight adjustments or read coverages and he’s not a natural route runner, occasionally looking more like a sprinter than a football player.
“So what the Bears have in White is either a perennial All-Pro who may end up dominating for the next decade, or another Cordarrelle Patterson.”
Still by almost everyone’s reckoning, this pick was a slam dunk. Most experts had the Bears taking White in this situation and, assuming there were no good offers to trade out of the pick, I have no problem with it. Given White’s size and physical traits, I think the odds are that he’ll work out fine. As Haugh indirectly points out, Pace’s handling of the situation stands in stark contrast to former Bears general manager Phil Emery, who always seemed to be trying to prove that he was the smartest guy in the room. Sometimes that worked out, as it did with the Kyle Long pick. But far too often, it didn’t.
Pace didn’t over think this. Sometimes the obvious thing is, in fact, still the right thing.