Two special events that transpired hours apart made Thursday, April 26, a day that Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will never forget.
First, the veteran coach sunk a hole-in-one on the fourth hole of Strawberry Creek Golf Course in Kenosha, Wis. And then later in the day, the Bears selected one of the best defensive players in the draft when they chose Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith with the eighth pick in the first round.
Fangio carried the golf ball in his pocket during the day and was happy to share his story with Bears staffers. He even walked into the Halas Hall press room to tell reporters about his hole-in-one.
"He was so fired up to [tell the media] that information," said general manager Ryan Pace. "He's been walking around with his chest out all day and couldn't be happier. But [Smith] is an important acquisition for us and I know Vic and his staff will maximize this player, and that's what's exciting.
"Vic's been around a lot of good linebacker play and this just adds to the great linebacker play the Bears have had as well."
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio celebrating his hole in one.
Name-dropping: Smith is eager to join the Bears' storied history at the linebacker position, something he's very familiar with. During his conference call with reporters Thursday night, the former Georgia star dropped a few recognizable names.
"It's a great franchise," Smith said. "It has a lot of rich tradition, especially on defense from way back with Dick Butkus and then you have Mike Singletary, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher, all those type guys, so I'm excited."
Smith, by the way, is the first Butkus Award winner to be drafted by the Bears. The award has been presented to the best linebacker in college football since 1985.
Staying put: There wasn't much of a market for the Bears to trade down from the No. 8 spot. While only one of the top four quarterbacks remained on the board—UCLA's Josh Rosen—the six teams picking after the Bears didn't need a quarterback—the 49ers, Raiders, Dolphins, Buccaneers, Redskins and Saints.
"It wasn't super strong really," Pace said. "As soon as Roquan was there, as soon as we knew it was going to unfold that way, the whole room was elated. That's a great moment in the draft room when everybody feels that way.
The Cardinals ultimately traded up from No. 15 to No. 10 to select Rosen, sending the Raiders picks in the third round and fifth round.
"You could feel some things going on with the quarterback play," Pace said. "We felt pretty strong if we stayed pat at No. 8 that we were going to get a good player. It kind of went off how we expected and we were thrilled when Roquan was there. We were thrilled when he was there and we're very happy."
Being bold: After selecting Smith, Pace revealed that the Bears were "exploring some options" to trade up into the bottom of the first round.
"We're always going to be aggressive if there's players we like," he said. "Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't."
Looking ahead: The Bears have six remaining picks in the draft; their own selections in Round 2 (No. 39), 4 (No. 105), 5 (No. 145), 6 (No. 181) and 7 (No. 224) and an additional fourth-rounder (No. 115) they acquired from the Cardinals last year when they traded down in the second round. The Bears dealt their 2018 third-round choice to the 49ers last year to move up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick.
Each of the past two years, the Bears traded up in the first round (to select outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and Trubisky) and down in the second (before choosing offensive lineman Cody Whitehair and tight end Adam Shaheen).
Asked about the possibility of trading down in the second round to recoup a third-round pick Friday night, Pace said: "I think you've seen the last couple years our ability to maybe move around in the second round. If need be we could do that. Or if there's a player that we love, shoot, we could go up. We'll see.
"Having two fourth-rounders helps us. I think this is a pretty deep draft in that area, so we're comfortable we're going to get some pretty good players at that part in the draft, too."