Who is Ryan Pace?

Yesterday, the Chicago Bears hired Ryan Pace as their new General Manager. Pace was formerly the Director of Player Personnel for the New Orleans Saints. There were four candidates who interviewed for the position over a two day period earlier this week The other people interviewed were Lake Dawson, the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Tennessee Titans, Brian Gaine, the Director of Pro Personnel for the Houston Texans, and Chris Ballard, the Director of Player Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The list was a strong one with all four being very qualified candidates. In the eyes of many in the Chicago media, the hiring was a bit of an upset, as many thought Ballard, who had spent 13 years with the Bears in various capacities was the favorite. I’m told that Ballard’s familiarity with the Bears actually worked against him as the Bears hierarchy wanted someone from outside the organization to head football operations.

Just who is Ryan Pace? Ryan has been with the Saints his entire career. He was hired in 2001 to work in the marketing department and was involved in game day operations and training camp. A year later, he was brought into the scouting department as a scouting assistant. In 2004, he was promoted to the position of pro scout and in 2006 he became the Director of Pro Scouting. He was promoted to the Director of Player Personnel overseeing all scouting activities in 2013.

Pace has had a quick rise and rightfully so. I remember having a conversation with Saints Head Coach Sean Payton about four years ago and he told me how impressed he was with Pace. He said “watch, this guy will be a future GM in the league”. Payton words came true yesterday.

In talking to people that I know in the Saints organization, I have been told nothing but good things about Ryan. Many young football executives seem to shy away from experienced scouts because they see them as a bit of a threat. That is not the case with Pace. He is an astute evaluator with strong opinions but also values and encourages differing opinions from his staff. He is also a tireless “grinder”, and that is a trait that is needed to succeed in the competitive world of the NFL.

He has outstanding people skills and knows and understands the game. With a background in both college and pro scouting, he knows and understands the differences in both. His pro scouting background will be a help in working with the coaching staff. The one thing that Ryan Pace brings to the table that will help the Chicago Bears is he has worked with one of the few true “franchise” quarterbacks in the NFL. He has worked with Drew Brees for nine seasons. That gives him insight as to how a great quarterback operates.
He has also learned from one of the more innovative offensive coaches in the National Football League in Sean Payton. That, along with working next to Mickey Loomis, an outstanding NFL executive in his own right, gives Pace a thorough understanding of the task at hand in Chicago.

Ryan Pace may be only 37 years old, but from what I’ve been told, he is more than ready to try and turn the Chicago Bears franchise around. A strong Chicago Bears franchise in good for the NFL.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe