This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Kevin White. (Courtesy West Virginia Athletics.)
Kevin White. (Courtesy West Virginia Athletics.)

CHICAGO — Every NFL general manager claims to draft the best player left on their draft board, but in Ryan Pace’s case, he actually did.

Holding the seventh overall pick in Thursday night’s first round, Pace selected West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, a fast, big-bodied wide receiver the team had shown a lot of interest in over the last few months.

“This was an easy pick,” Pace said back at Halas Hall. “It was, again, stay true to our board. Take best player available and whether it’s defense or offense, let’s get a playmaker in the Top 10 and that’s what we did.”

Things got very interesting at the Auditorium Theater downtown when defensive tackle Leonard Williams — a player good enough to warrant the first overall pick — was still available at No. 6, just one pick ahead of the Bears. It’s possible Pace had Williams rated higher than White, but we’ll never know as the New York Jets took the USC product out of consideration.

At that point, no one was surprised when the Bears selected White, who told reporters 24 hours earlier that he felt Chicago would take him if he was still available.

“I had a good feeling — a gut instinct,” White said Thursday night after his premonition became reality. “I said it one time to the media, but I didn’t want to jinx it.”

White said new teammate Alshon Jeffery, who shares the same agent, actually told him the Bears would him pick up, which is why he was so confident.

Of course, players don’t really know for sure, and many times drafts don’t go as planned. But Pace said the first six picks went pretty much as expected for him, which put the Bears in a good position. After telling reporters Wednesday that there were seven players he felt “really, really good” about, he said Thursday night that two of those players were still available when it came time to pull the trigger.

“It’s pretty much come off pretty much how we thought it would, so we were really choosing between two players at this point and for us it was an easy decision with Kevin White,” Pace said. “Trust me, there was a lot of fist-pumping and high-fiving going on when we knew this is how it was going to unfold.”

Many will point to the Bears’ defensive needs and question taking an offensive player seventh overall, but let’s not forget the offense ranked 21st last season and has since lost its No. 1 wide receiver. In fact, while the Brandon Marshall trade was completely necessary, the offensive void it created doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention. Look at it like this: Will Kevin White be as good as Brandon Marshall? Probably not as a rookie, which means even after the Bears have used their first round draft pick, you could argue their offense still isn’t as good as it was last year — when it was 21st.

But winning takes more than just talent, which is why the Marshall trade was addition by subtraction. Still, the production needs to be replaced somehow, and that is why Pace and new head coach John Fox took the addition by addition approach Thursday night by drafting White, whose longterm ceiling could be higher than Marshall’s.

And White certainly seems like he’ll be a welcome addition to the locker room. In fact, listening to him at the Auditorium Theatre, you almost had to double-check to make sure he’s actually a wide receiver, because he didn’t sound like one. Receivers are me-first guys by nature, but White spoke about his humble beginnings, difficulty to get noticed in junior college and his desire to prove people wrong without all the glitter.

“I don’t really spend a lot of money,” he said. “I buy my earrings at Claire’s.”

For the record, the watch White was wearing belonged to his agent’s daughter.

Of course, with the money he’ll make after being selected seventh overall (likely over $2.5 million in 2015) White can now buy his own nice watch. And the Bears will be happy to paying White that money as long he catches touchdowns. Lots of touchdowns. He had 10 last season at West Virginia during a 109-catch season.

And if he does that again this season, it’s safe to say Pace’s first draft pick with the Bears will be deemed a success.

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.