(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.
When a play is in development, going through the endless reading and workshop process that now defines the modern not-profit theatre landscape, it means the play is “not ready” to be seen by a paying audience. Whether or not the human file folders now running America’s once great theatres are artistically-equipped to make that decision is a topic for another column but their idea, an idea borne in the titanic mind of Joseph Papp, is you don’t have to fork over your $77 until they get it right.
If the 2017 Chicago Bears want to be anything more than in development, if they want to give their win-starved fans anything more than the roster is improving, there’s hope for the future, if they want this coming football season to be entertaining and exciting and inspiring and all those other words, they have to take a quarterback in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
Mike Glennon isn’t the guy. His numbers will be fine next year because Dowell Loggains’ offense managed to pull fine numbers out of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, both massively limited. But Glennon is nothing but a placeholder. And the Bears – even with their general manager’s “fired up” commentary at the introductory press conference – know it. Despite misguided columns from people like Chris Burke at Sports Illustrated, the Bears are paying Glennon to be a middle of the road starter in 2017 and a backup in 2018. They’re commitment to him as a player is minimal, at best.
I just don’t think the Bears are going to take a quarterback with the third pick.
Through the first two waves of free agency, I saw Pace as someone who was just trying to plug as many holes as he could so that they could pick up some wins and he’d get a chance to keep building the team next offseason. George McCaskey made it clear that he isn’t patient and I think Pace heard that message. Mike Glennon is a reliable player who Pace hopes can be just good enough to get him to next offseason.
It’s possible that Pace sees upside in Glennon; sees him as somebody who could potentially be the answer. Realistically, I think Pace is just hoping Glennon can buy him more time.
My hunch is that Pace has ID’d his answer and it’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Drafting a quarterback in the first round this year would mean he couldn’t realistically go after Garoppolo next year. Sticking with Glennon and a QB drafted later leaves all options on the table.
Even if it’s not Garoppolo, I haven’t gotten any indication that he believes the answer is among the guys available early in this draft. Pace had made comments about valuing decision making (Watson), experience (Trubisky) and elevating their teams and programs (Kizer and Mahomes). Perhaps those were all part of a smoke screen. But I’m not betting on it. I do think the Bears will draft a quarterback at some point but my guess is Pace will view that player in the same light he sees Glennon – someone who could be the answer, but probably isn’t.
If it were up to me, Deshaun Watson would be the pick, but it isn’t up to me and here’s how I think the Bears have their big board stacked at this point:
The NFL’s annual meat market kicks off this week and here are a few things to watch for:
In case you haven’t noticed around here, this off-season is about one thing: finding a quarterback. This week is going to be the Bears first real chance to sit down and talk football with the top four guys: Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Mitch Trubisky and Pat Mahomes.
The Bears know who Brian Hoyer is, have a good feeling about Jimmy Garoppolo and are at least relatively familiar with all of the other veteran options. Their pro personnel department has done their work. They don’t know the quarterbacks in the draft simply because they haven’t had the opportunity to study them beyond their game tape.
Does Watson have enough meat on his bones? What does Kizer attribute his inconsistency to? Is Trubisky really short? Does Mahomes have any clue when it comes to reading coverage? These are some of the questions the Bears need to ask.
The most important part is going to be the interview process. The Bears need to find out what makes these guys tick. They won’t publicly broadcast that information, but we’ll hear the buzz. The Bears could fall in love with a quarterback here and that could change everything.
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.
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 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.
Matt Ryan put the Falcons up 24 on the Packers and nobody thought the game was over. Why? Because the Packers had the best quarterback in the sport not named Brady.
The AFC Championship game was played by two quarterbacks with 6 Super Bowl rings and 9 Super Bowl appearances – more appearances in the Terrific Title than every other quarterback in the league combined.
Let me make something clear, Bears fans. “With the third pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select Johnathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama” is not going to put the 2017 edition of the Bears into the postseason. The Jets have two of the best defensive ends in the game. Aaron Donald is a game-changing defensive lineman. Geno Atkins. Gerald McCoy. Ndamukong Suh. You know what those teams are all doing on Thursday April 27th? Picking shortly after the Bears. Sturdy defensive linemen are nice and all but they don’t move the needle. Pass rushers do. Playmakers on offense do. And, most importantly, quarterbacks do.
Before free agency, quarterbacks didn’t have to be great to win titles. They could be Jim McMahon or Mark Rypien or Doug Williams or Jeff Hostetler because the money was there to build a great team AROUND the position. Those days are a distant memory.
But Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have distorted the “franchise quarterback” conversation in the other direction because over the course of their careers, their divisions NEVER FEATURED ANOTHER GREAT QUARTERBACK. (Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is better than anything Brady and Manning ever consistently faced in the AFC East and South.) That’s why they are in the playoffs every year, with two of the three having limited success in the tournament. The other franchise-type guys: Eli, Flacco, Brees, Ryan, Rivers…etc. guarantee their teams nothing due to one primary factor: competition.
With just two drafts under his belt, Ryan Pace is doing something neither of his predecessors did. He is using the draft to build an offense and support the quarterback.
One of the first things I wrote for DBB came at a time when we didn’t know if Jay Cutler was going to be the quarterback. It was clear the Bears had failed to provide the quarterback with necessary weapons and I argued Pace needed to do better.
Through two drafts, he has.
In the third round the Bears picked one of the most athletic defensive linemen in the draft in Bullard.
According to Mock Draftable, Bullard’s most comparable current NFL player is Sheldon Richardson. He fits the physical profiles they look for at 6’3″, 285 pounds, running the 40-yard dash in under five seconds and a 10-yard split of 1.65 seconds, among the best at his position in the draft. Oh, and his arms are nearly 34 inches long.
I am not going to spend much time over the next mont breaking down which college players is going to go where. Frankly, I don’t care that much. Instead I’m going to write about college players I really like. Cody Whitehair might be my favorite player in this year’s draft.
Four-year starter voted team captain in 2015. Tireless worker bee in the weight room and in practices who brings a high degree of dependability and consistency to the table. Team-oriented. Played exceptionally well while out of position at left tackle for Kansas State. Atypical body composure and control. Is almost always in complete control of his body thanks to outstanding core strength and balance. Extremely efficient with his movements after the snap. Has played both guard and both tackle spots and has roster value at all five positions. Mirrors with a wide, stout base and has great feel for keeping defender squared up throughout the rep. Confident, composed and competitive. Smooth and athletic when asked to pull and has radar to find target and strike accurate blow. Makes up for shorter arms with massive hands that function as vise grips. Consistent with hand placement and extremely sticky blocker. Combines hand strength and balance to snatch and control a defender until the whistle blows. Can sink hips at contact and should be able to stalemate bigger players across from him. Exceptional body control and core strength allows him to successfully redirect defenders who get to his edge.
He can play all across the line. He’s nasty. And he reminds me of Zack Martin, who might be one of the two or three best guards in the league. I think Whitehair will get there in a couple years.