Ryan Pace has enjoyed a lot of success when it comes to finding quality talent later in the NFL draft. Several of his picks since 2015 taken between the 4th and 7th rounds have gone on to have positive impacts on the team. Among the best was running back Tarik Cohen. He went from a 5’6 novelty talent out of North Carolina A&T to one of the most dangerous offensive weapons on the entire roster from the moment he arrived.

Not only an effective runner and receiver out of the backfield, Cohen also became an All-Pro punt returner. What some people may not know about him though is what got him to Chicago in the first place. It’s easy to put all the credit at the feet of Pace. That tends to happen with the GM of any team. In reality? The man who played the biggest role in his arrival in Chicago was Sam Summerville.

The Bears’ southeast area scout.

Former Kansas City Chiefs director of pro scouting Will Lewis appeared on the NFL Draft Bible podcast to discuss various concepts of the draft. Particularly the topic of best player available vs. a favorite player. That is how Cohen came into the picture. Before the draft, the Bears apparently asked Summerville who his favorite player was in his region. When he said Cohen, some people thought he was nuts. That was when he made a critical clarification.

Cohen was not the best player in the southeastern region. However, Summerville’s stance on him being a personal favorite? That undoubtedly stuck with Pace and the front office when the draft rolled around. Remember that NFL teams almost always put the scout they trust the most in charge of the southeast. That is where the heaviest concentration of future pro talent is located. It seems they took Summerville at his word and were rewarded.

Tarik Cohen aims to return with a vengeance in 2021

His 2020 season was a low point in his career. Not only did he have to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He also had to sit out most of the year because of a torn ACL. This right after signing a new contract. Cohen never got a proper chance to validate the Bears’ faith in him. So one can imagine the 26-year old is anxious to get back on the field this year. To remind everybody who he was and still can be.

Chicago is going to need him. With uncertainty prevailing at the receiver position, his prowess as a pass catcher will be most welcome. To say nothing of his ability to offer a different look as a runner. It will be interesting to see how the team uses him following the arrivals of Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert.

His role could be somewhat different.

There is also no telling if he’ll be the same player. Knee injuries like the one he suffered are difficult to come back from. At least right away. It could take some time before Bears fans see the old Tarik Cohen again.