2. Champ Kelly, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Chicago Bears
Instead of looking around the league for a replacement, the Chicago Bears could hire from within. Champ Kelly has been with the organization since 2015.
Many people say that Pace’s best ability was finding diamonds in the rough later in the draft. Part of that reason is what Kelly had a hand in. He spent his first two years in Chicago as director of pro scouting before being promoted to his current position.
Before coming to Chicago, Kelly spent eight years with the Denver Broncos. He started as Denver’s regional college scout, then became assistant coordinator of pro and college scouting, and finally became the assistant director for player personnel.
Kelly is a rising star for the Bears. Former Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, one of the top general managers of his era, held a general manager forum last summer. Kelly gave an impressive presentation and a few teams could interview him this offseason.
With Kelly, the Bears acquired, either through free agency or the draft, the following players: Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith, Allen Robinson, and Robert Quinn. In Denver, they acquired Peyton Manning, Jacob Tamme, Wes Welker, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and Emmanuel Sanders.
Kelly was also a player. He has an understanding of what players go through and can deal with them better than others who have never been in that same situation.