Bears trade up to No. 9, bolster pass rush with Georgia's Leonard Floyd


When GM Ryan Pace said on Wednesday that the Bears had more than 11 names the organization felt good about for the No. 11 pick, he was sending a message that he was open to trading.

He just didn’t say which way, and instead of trading down to add picks, Pace elected to spend some of the draft capital the Bears had with nine total picks, trading up from No. 11 into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ spot at No. 9 and grabbing Georgia pass rusher Leonard Floyd to upgrade a defense that managed only a woeful 35 sacks in 2015.

The Bears gave up the first of their two fourth-round picks, No. 106 overall, to make the deal which adds a 6-4, 244-pound edge rusher who posted a modest 17 sacks for three college seasons, four last year. The move appeared to be made to get ahead of the No. 10 New York Giants, predicted by many to be targeting Floyd as part of enhancing their pass rush.

The “need” component was there and applied to nearly any pick on defense that the Bears could have made. Even with improvements from the previous two nightmare years, they were 20th in points allowed, 26th in opponents rushing average, 25th in yards allowed per play and 30th in interception percentage, reflective of having just 17 takeaways in their 16 games.

Put another way, the Bears were only marginally better against the run than they were under Mel Tucker and worse at taking the football away from opponents, the lifeblood of a defense. Meaning, the Bears were correct in staying a course toward best player available rather than drafting for need, since needs existed at virtually level of the defense.

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