Bears Draft Preview: QB situation fluid after Cutler at No. 1

Bears Draft Preview: QB situation fluid after Cutler at No. 1
April 27, 2014, 9:15 am
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CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin will be going position-by-position as the Bears approach the 2014 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store. First, he takes a look at quarterback.

Bears pre-draft situation

After time with Jay Cutler, coach Marc Trestman and his key assistants agreed with general manager Phil Emery’s assessment that Cutler was a franchise quarterback, and the organization reacted accordingly. Cutler was signed to a seven-year contract worth potentially $126 million but with flexibility to shorten or re-allocate money for salary cap purposes.

Significantly, the Bears re-signed lightly used Jordan Palmer just before free agency opened. Whether Palmer is the next Josh McCown (the Bears certainly hope they don’t have to find out) rests with the player and a coaching staff that got career bests out of Cutler and McCown last year.

Palmer is 29, with virtually no time under center in the NFL. But he was on the roster in training camp and added to the active roster for the final nine weeks last season because of injuries to Cutler. The clear assumption is that coaches thought they saw something.

[MORE: View from the Moon: Why this year's Bears will go 11-5]

Bears draft priority: low

Emery is among the personnel execs who look every draft for a potential project, a young arm with upside for development, trade, whatever. It has been a mindset that worked well for successful franchises.

During the prime of Brett Favre, Ron Wolf and the Green Bay Packers drafted a quarterback in six of the eight years between 1992, including Ty Detmer in ’92, when Favre was backing up Don Majkowski. In 2008, the year Aaron Rodgers succeeded Favre, the Packers drafted two (Brian Brohm, Matt Flynn). The New England Patriots had Drew Bledsoe starting and Michael Bishop from the 1999 draft when they used a sixth-rounder for Tom Brady in 2000.

The Bears haven’t used the Green Bay pipeline system. Emery did not draft a quarterback in either 2012 or 2013. The Bears had Jerrod Johnson on the practice squad last year.

A late-round selection of a quarterback is very likely, even though the true “need” is low. The Bears have two sixth-round picks, one of which projects to be a quarterback.

[RELATED: Interior pass rush shortage could trump Bears need at safety]

Keep an eye on ...

— Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. An intriguing prospect who might be a surprise pick well before Bears’ turn late.

— Tommy Rees, Notre Dame. In for a Halas Hall visit, also visited 49ers, Browns, Chiefs.

— Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M. A late-round or UFA pickup for development.