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Finding A Quarterback: The Other Guys

| April 7th, 2017

Over the last few weeks I have profiled the top four quarterbacks in the draft but the Bears are not likely going to get any of them.

The praising of Mike Glennon has been universal to the point where I don’t think the Bears are going to spend the third pick on a quarterback. I also think all four of the top guys will be gone before the Bears pick in the second round.

So, where does that leave them? With one of these guys…

Jerod Evans, Virginia Tech

Evans is my Jordan Howard of this year’s draft.

I really liked Howard last year and thought his value was going to be the best of any of the running backs, and that was when I thought he’d be a third-round pick.

Evans, like Howard, has only one year of major college experience and, like Howard, he was really good. His resume is pretty much the same as Mitch Trubisky and, physically, he’s pretty much the same as DeShone Kizer.

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Finding A Quarterback: There’s Something Special About DeShaun Watson

| April 5th, 2017

When you really think about the things that make quarterbacks great, you end up pinpointing traits Clemson’s DeShaun Watson has already displayed.

Being great in college doesn’t mean a player will be great in the NFL, but it’s the closest league we have to an apples-to-apples comparison and Watson was the single best player in that league last year.

Alabama was supposed to have one of the greatest defenses in the history of college football each of the last two years. They couldn’t stop Watson. His performance in the National Championship Game two years ago was impressive. And it pissed Alabama off. With one of the greatest defensive minds in the sport designing their game plan and a roster full of future NFL stars, Alabama was determined to stop Watson last year.

They couldn’t.

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Finding A Quarterback: Can DeShone Kizer Hit the Mark?

| March 30th, 2017

If  the Bears can fix whatever it is that causes DeShone Kizer to be so damn inconsistent with his ball placement, they just might have a franchise quarterback.

When I watched Kizer, I never knew what I was going to get from throw-to-throw, a scary thought for a guy the Bears may be considering with the third pick in the draft. But I can’t tell if it’s an issue that can easily be fixed or one that will dog him throughout what would then be a short NFL career.

A lot of people love Kizer. I respect the opinions of some of those who do. But his inaccuracy is undeniable and when you factor in occasionally-puzzling decision making, it makes him a scary prospect.

Some like to say Kizer’s struggles were only a problem this year and there’s something to that. In 2015 he had just 2 games in which he completed less than 55 percent of his passes, compared to 5 last year.

What happened?The talent around him dropped significantly and his coach was a jackass.

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Finding A Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes Might Be The Next Brett Favre

| March 28th, 2017

I don’t think the Bears can risk using the third pick on a quarterback who needs as much work as Patrick Mahomes. But I also don’t think they can let a quarterback with this much talent get past them in the second.

It’s hard to watch the Texas Tech QB and not be reminded of Brett Favre, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a reincarnation of the old gunslinger.

Everybody talks about the arm and it’s every bit as good as they say. He can toss the ball 50 yards with a flick of the wrist and makes throws that most quarterbacks won’t even consider. (I’d go as far as saying he has the strongest arm in football.)

He’s more than just an arm. He also has adequate accuracy and moves around pretty well. But my favorite Mahomes trait? Instincts.

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Finding A Quarterback: No Interest in Mitch Trubisky?

| March 22nd, 2017

(Author’s note: Last week I wrote I didn’t think the Bears would draft a quarterback third. Forget that, they can’t possibly think Mike Glennon is the answer.)

There has been almost nothing to link the Bears to North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, which is exactly why I think they really like him.

After sending a team of people, including Ryan Pace and John Fox, to Clemson for Deshaun Watson’s workout, the Bears didn’t send anyone of note to see Trubisky this week. There were also no reports of Pace going to watch Trubisky during the season. Really, nothing has connected Pace and the Bears to Trubisky other than a standard interview at the combine.

Hell, we even have Pace talking specifically about having a problem with what is perceived as Trubisky’s biggest flaw, experience:

“Yeah, it carries a lot of weight. I think there’s nothing that can really substitute that,” Pace said at the Senior Bowl. “It’s already a big jump from college to the NFL as it is, so the more of that you have, the more beneficial it is.”

I don’t buy it. 

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Finding A Quarterback: The Draft

| February 23rd, 2017

Editor’s Note: Andrew wrote this so we’re posting it as rumors swirl around the Bears QB position.

The best way to solve a quarterback problem is through the draft, but nobody has perfected that art. Or even come close.

Ron Wolf is probably the best there has ever been at evaluating quarterbacks. He traded a first round pick for Brett Favre, drafted Mark Brunell in the fifth round, Aaron Brooks in the fourth and Matt Hasselback in the sixth. He also drafted Jay Barker, Kyle Wachholtz and Ron McAda. The Patriots hit the jackpot with Tom Brady, but they have a long, long list of quarterbacks who didn’t pan out. The Cowboys wanted Connor Cook and Paxton Lynch over Dak Prescott.

For what it’s worth, my favorite quarterbacks the past few years have been Carson Wentz, 2016; Marcus Mariota, 2015; Derek Carr, 2014; EJ Manuel, 2013; Andrew Luck, 2012 and Jake Locker, 2011. What can I say? I like guys who have big arms and can move around.

That said, I haven’t spent anywhere near as much time on the quarterbacks in the draft in the past as I have this year. Time will tell if that’s a good thing. I can say that I like all three of the top quarterbacks more than I liked anybody in the draft last year, but not as much as either Mariota or Jameis Winston.

Before I break down the top quarterback prospects, here are a few things I’m taking into consideration.

Anonymous Scouts are Liars Or Fake

Every week somebody writes a story quoting an anonymous scout. They’re full of crap. 99% of anonymous scouts are people trying to pass off their opinion as someone else’s.

The Offense Doesn’t Matter, To An Extent

The line between a pro-style offense and a spread is more blurred than ever. Pretty much every college team runs a spread or, at least, something that used to be considered a spread. The Bears and most other NFL teams run a lot of spread concepts. The league wisely adjusted to what the colleges were giving them.

All of the top quarterbacks in the draft this year play a sort of spread system and all of them will have to have their reads simplified in the NFL. If their coaches don’t simplify it for them, the coaches will be fired. The Cowboys made things easy for Prescott, the Seahawks kept the training wheels on Russell Wilson for nearly three years and Cam Newton still runs a college offense. How did Adam Gase get Jay Cutler to limit his turnovers? He simplified the offense.

That said, there’s never been anyone who has played in the “Air Raid” offense and been a successful NFL quarterback. The player has to show at least some ability to read defenses or make adjustments.

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Finding A Quarterback: Ranking the Veterans

| February 21st, 2017

While some have argued that this is a bad year to need a quarterback, I strongly disagree. Over the last few weeks, I have spent countless hours watching and breaking down all of the popular veteran options the Bears may turn to in hopes of fixing their quarterback position this off-season. Below you will find a ranking of those players, not just in terms of talent but with cost and long-term viability figured in.

9. Mike Glennon

Some are reporting that Glennon is going to get big money to start somewhere. I’m not sure I believe that. He’s not accurate, mobile or particularly smart with the ball. He was Josh McCown’s backup.

8. Matt Barkley

It’s long been forgotten but Barkley did a lot of good things with the Bears last year. He just can’t keep throwing interceptions at the rate that he has throughout his career. I can’t help but wonder what a full off-season with this offense and coaching staff could do for him. He shouldn’t be brought back as a starter, but there are a lot of teams with worse backups.

7. A.J. McCarron

Maybe the biggest problem with McCarron is the cost. The Bears would have to give up a draft pick and then sign him to a new contract. This is fine if he’s a good, starting-caliber quarterback. I just don’t think McCarron is.

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Finding a Quarterback: What is Tyrod Taylor’s Ceiling?

| February 16th, 2017

Did the Buffalo Bills hold Tyrod Taylor back or was it the other way around? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I watched him play.

There were times where Taylor was Russell Wilson.

There were other times where I wondered if the Bills called conservative games because Taylor was their quarterback.

This same debate is prevalent among Buffalo media, who are radically divided on Taylor’s tenure with the Bills.

Buffalo GM Doug Whaley doesn’t like Taylor. Taylor was Rex Ryan’s guy and even though new Buffalo offensive coordinator Rick Dennison is said to be a fan of Taylor’s, Whaley isn’t like to care. Most signs point to the Bills opting out of Taylor’s lucrative contract and the 27-year-old hitting the open market.

He’ll get paidt for his play the last two seasons, with passer ratings of 99.4 and 89.6, but nobody really knows what they’re getting. He could be a quality player on the ascent or he could be a player destined for mediocrity.

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Finding A Quarterback: AJ McCarron, A Backup’s Backup

| February 15th, 2017

The common thought of people covering the NFL is that the Cincinnati Bengals should try to find an upgrade over quarterback Andy Dalton. A common thought among many Bears fans is the team should bring in Dalton’s backup to be their new starter.

It is every bit as illogical as it sounds.

Every time someone suggests the Bears trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, someone chimes in that they should spend less and bring in AJ McCarron instead. McCarron is a fine player but his current job is where he belongs. There is no shame in backing up Tom Brady like Garoppolo has had to do, but if McCarron were capable of being a top tier starting quarterback, he wouldn’t be watching Dalton take all the snaps.

McCarron did some nice things when he got to play at the end of 2015. He made several good throws down the field and consistently showed good touch on deep passes. He’s an NFL quarterback but not all guys are meant to be starters.

The Alabama product’s stats are fine. He completed 66.4 percent of his passes for six touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 97.1. If you took his averages from the four starts — including the playoffs — and averaged them out over 16 games, it would come out to roughly 3,500 yards with 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Not bad, but he was playing in a stacked offense. Dalton managed a passer rating of 106.2.

When I watched McCarron, the performance didn’t match the statistics. I had him with an inaccuracy rate of 33.4 percent in his four starts. While he only threw two interceptions, he had a number of other passes that should have been picked off. It was Josh McCownesque.

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Finding a Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick and the cost of a social pariah

| February 8th, 2017

The best value in the quarterback market this offseason will be a guy who has been productive, led his team to a Super Bowl and possesses crazy physical skills. He will also likely have a difficult time finding a job.

Colin Kaepernick went against the grain and took a stand, or, rather, a knee and NFL teams don’t like guys who are different. In their mind, different is difficult and unless it’s a superstar it isn’t worth the trouble. NFL coaches and owners don’t want to admit this, but it has proven to be true time after time.

Kaeperick transcended football in the amount of much attention he received for what he did on the sidelines. But when he was on the field, he was actually pretty good. Why would any team serious about upgrading their quarterback position not kick the tires on the guy?

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