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ATM: First Look at the Quarterback Market

| January 12th, 2021

Regardless of who is making the decisions, the top priority for the Chicago Bears this offseason has to be finding a quarterback. The Bears can’t – and from the sounds of it, won’t – let the best stretch of Mitch Trubisky’s career change what they already knew: he is not and never will be good. Not finding an upgrade is no longer an option for the Bears.

While some have tried to paint the picture that the Bears won’t be able to find a better quarterback, the truth is they have no choice. And upgrading isn’t the monumental task some make it out to be. Here’s a quick look at some of the options:

The Extreme Long Shots

Russell Wilson

After finally letting Russ cook in 2020, the Seahawks seem determined not to do that again.

This is, more or less, throwing mud to see what sticks, but trading Wilson has been floated before and if Seattle wants to run into the middle of the line of scrimmage every other play, they might as well move him.

Seattle is operating in a different existence right now. Pete Carroll is determined to waste Wilson and the rest of the league can thank him for that. Don’t rule out Wilson requesting a trade since Carroll just signed a huge contract extension.

Deshaun Watson

Whatever the price for Watson might be, it isn’t too much. Like Wilson, it’s very unlikely that Watson will be traded, but players have power and Watson is ticked off.


Slightly More Likely

Derek Carr

We went down this road last year and not a lot has changed. He still plays for Jon Gruden and Jon Gruden doesn’t like anybody who currently plays quarterback for him.

The Raiders didn’t sign Marcus Mariota last year for insurance. They did it because Gruden always has a wandering eye. Carr likely wouldn’t cost that much in draft capital, but he may want a new contract to guarantee his future a little more.

With two straight seasons surpassing 4,000 yards and a passer rating of 100, Carr would solve the position for the foreseeable future. The difficult part is making sure they have enough talent around him.

Dak Prescott

If the Cowboys loved Prescott as much as they say they do, he wouldn’t be worried about a contract right now.

Prescott was on pace to throw for nearly 6,000 yards; completing 68% of his passes for an average of 8.4 per attempt. He has a career passer rating of 97.3 and he can run.

Bringing him back seems like a no-brainer for the Cowboys, but Jerry is Jerry.  It’ll cost draft picks and a lot of money, but Prescott is worth it.

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Saturday QBs to Watch: Conference Title Games!

| December 19th, 2020

(Photo of Trask by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


If the Bears win Sunday, they are unlikely to be choosing one of the top four quarterbacks in this coming draft. (And I have had several personnel folks tell me that might not be the worst thing for them long-term.) So looking at that next crop of QBs is probably a more apt exercise at this point. Today will be a good opportunity to look at three them, two for the second time in this space.


3:00 PM CT

ACC Championship Game

Clemson vs. Notre Dame

__________

Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first pick of the draft and stabilize a Jets franchise desperate for stabilization. But ND quarterback Ian Book is going to be an interesting option for teams in the middle rounds. Eric Edholm of Yahoo found an interesting comp for Book:

I texted a Midwest scout who has seen Book’s success as a college QB and watched him grow as an NFL prospect. Who does Book remind the scout of?

Jeff Garcia, he told me. Not the name I was expecting, but it makes sense.

Garcia was far from a roundly beloved prospect coming out of San Jose State in the early ’90s — like Book, branded too small, too hectic, too not NFL. For that time, anyway. And it took him five years of success in the CFL and a visionary in Bill Walsh (who had returned to the 49ers’ front office) to see Garcia’s NFL potential.

Book’s road to the league shouldn’t be quite as circuitous because it appears that he’s only helped his draft stock and could push for a spot in Round 4 — or even higher. It will be fascinating to see which team drafts him, perhaps a club such as the Pittsburgh Steelers that will need to find its eventual starter or one such as the Houston Texans or Kansas City Chiefs, who have their current starter but might want a backup to groom with similar skills to their almost irreplaceable stars in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.

Book’s deep-ball effectiveness has improved dramatically from his first few seasons, and even — despite fewer downfield attempts — from a year ago. He still has issues throwing intermediate and deep toward the sidelines but has developed the kind of hip torque and arm strength to get the balls to their targets more readily.

Like with Jalen Hurts a year ago, Book holds onto the ball too long. That won’t fly as readily in the NFL; he has to speed up his clock and not assume his brilliant offensive line and his own athleticism will keep him safe.

Overall, it’s hard not to love and appreciate the strides Book has made as an NFL prospect over the past few years. And with a potential playoff spot looming for the Irish, there are more tests awaiting.


7:00 PM CT

SEC Championship Game

Florida vs. Alabama

__________

Both quarterbacks in this game – Kyle Trask and Mac Jones – are projecting to be drafted somewhere between pick 15 and pick 50. And it’s safe to every that every NFL eye will be on both tonight.

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Saturday QB to Watch: Mac Jones, Alabama

| November 28th, 2020

Alabama (6-0) vs. Auburn (5-2)

3:30 PM ET


True story: I’ve never seen Jones play. Not a single snap. So I’ll be interested look at him in this high pressure scenario. At this stage, should he declare for the NFL Draft, he’s profiling at the back end of the first round / top of the second round. In other words, he’s profiling as someone the Bears could be considering.


Highlights.


From Mel Kiper, in a piece over at 247 Sports:

NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. appeared Saturday on SEC Nation and raved over Jones’ ability as a passer. However, the number of overall starts could be a factor within NFL circles, much like former Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ one-year wonder of a season two years ago which helped him go in the opening round to Washington.

“He’s spectacular, Laura (Rutledge), you think about 78.5%, 16 touchdowns, two picks. He’s got all of that talent around him, yes he does,” Kiper said. “But Jaylen Waddle is now hurt. He’s without that great receiver opposite DeVonta Smith. I think his deep-ball accuracy is phenomenal, his poise, his confidence right now directing that Alabama offense.

“Now, six-career starts this year, four last year, 10 total. You want that number higher than that. He’s going to end up with 16 after this year is over. Remember Mitchell Trubisky, 13, Mark Sanchez 16? That’s the issue. Career starts only around 16, will he go back to Alabama to try to get more of those, more experience? We’ll see.”

Several quarterbacks are expected to be selected ahead of Jones in the 2021 NFL Draft if he comes out as a junior, according to most mocks. But Jones is gaining ground, Kiper notes.

“Now he’s in that Top 25 in terms of the big board,” Kiper said. “Sixteen career starts is going to be something people will factor in , but if he keeps lighting it up, he’s right around 80% right now.

“If he keeps putting up the numbers he has been putting up, I think he’s in the late-first round discussion. Maybe a little higher than that.”

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