Ryan Pace, Thursday at Halas Hall. (Photo Credit: @ChicagoBears)

The Chicago Bears on Thursday took the most important step in rebuilding their franchise with the hiring of Ryan Pace as general manager:
Pace replaces the recently fired Phil Emery as Bears general manager, and becomes the sixth general manager in Bears franchise history.

Just 37 years old (making him the youngest general manager in the NFL), Pace spent the last 14 seasons as a member of the New Orleans' Saints front office, with a focus in the Saints' player personnel department, and actually served as their director of player personnel in the final two seasons.

Here are the players the Saints drafted in the two years Pace held the title of director of player personnel:

15. Kenny Vaccaro
75. Terron Armstead
82. John Jenkins
144. Kenny Stills
183. Rufus Johnson

20. Brandin Cooks
58. Stanley Jean-Baptiste
126. Khairi Fortt
167. Vinnie Sunseri
169. Ronald Powell
202. Tavon Rooks

Over Pace's time in New Orleans, the Saints put together a 115-93 record, reached the playoffs six times since 2006, and of course won the Super Bowl in 2009.

Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune took a great look in 2013 at the players signed by the Saints in free agency since 2006, headlined by quarterback Drew Brees.

The Pace hiring came as a surprise, as Kansas City Chiefs director of player personnel Chris Ballard was considered the heavy favorite for the Bears' general manager job. The Bears also interviewed Houston Texans director of pro personnel Brian Gaine, and Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson.

Even though Ballard was considered the favorite for the job, the reaction to the Bears hiring Pace has been very positive for the most part. Here's a sampling of reactions and other interesting tidbits in regards to the hiring:

Now, Pace has his hands full dealing with a roster that is coming off an embarrassing 5-11 season and is greatly lacking long-term assets (in my opinion, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Long, and Kyle Fuller are the only Bears players under contract that you really feel good about three+ years down the road). It will especially be interesting to see what Pace envisions for the Bears at the quarterback position, and if he has anything to say about it in his introductory press conference on Friday, as Matt Eurich points out:

Oh, and then there's the whole issue of the Bears not having a head coach yet either (kind of a big deal). And Pace didn't wait very long to make himself a part of those efforts, as he reportedly was a part of the Bears' interviewing of Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Thursday:

So, Pace is going to be a very, very busy man and we will get a great idea of his overall plan and vision on Friday in his 11 AM CT introductory press conference at Halas Hall.

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