Someone should mail a fruit basket to former Bears general manager Ryan Pace in Atlanta.
While Pace left new GM Ryan Poles a teardown-worthy roster, he also gave him a gift. Pace’s decision last year to trade up to draft Ohio State’s Justin Fields cost the Bears their first-round picks last year and Thursday, but it yielded something for them to dream about at quarterback. Fields still needs developing, but he gives the Bears hope.
Waiting until this year to draft a passer would have been a disaster. There likely will be two or three quarterbacks drafted in the first round, but none — not Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis or Ole Miss’ Matt Corral — is as good as any of the five that went in Round 1 last year.
This class, which also features North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, has the worst high end in a decade, if not a generation.
‘‘I can’t explain that at all,’’ Poles said. ‘‘I think you get in different cycles and different years, certain strengths and weaknesses.’’