Bears cannot afford to overlook QB in 2013 draft

Bears cannot afford to overlook QB in 2013 draft

CTL looks ahead to NFL combine

February 14, 2013, 10:00 am
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“Need” can be defined lots of different ways in the NFL, whether a specific position or player. The Bears do not necessarily need a quarterback, at least not until Marc Trestman and Matt Cavanaugh have had at Jay Cutler, or until they add a free agent, whether re-signing Jason Campbell or Josh McCown or not.
 
But apart from the obvious performance questions surrounding Cutler, 30 in April, and his future viability, the Bears have reasons to staff up the quarterback position in the draft, perhaps earlier rather than later.
 
The Bears missed the playoffs last season in no small part because of certain other teams that did draft quarterbacks without seemingly immediate pressing needs.
 
The 2013 draft in fact may be potentially favorable for the Bears to make a move at the franchise position without necessarily investing a high pick there at the expense of a better player or bigger need elsewhere.
 
ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio has noted that virtually all quarterback prospects will work out for the upcoming NFL Scouting Combine because no one is among the projected top picks.
 
NFL draft guru Mel Kiper has raised the possibility of no quarterback being taken in the first round. Unlikely, with West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the field.
 
But Cutler has not played his way into a contract extension beyond this season. And Trestman did not use the adjective “franchise” while discussing him and neither he nor GM Phil Emery are invested in Cutler.
 
So the question arguably is not if the Bears should draft a quarterback but when:
 
First round?
 
In 2005, the Green Bay Packers were coming off a run of five consecutive winning seasons, four of them in the playoffs and three with Brett Favre in the Pro Bowl. They used a No. 1 pick, 24th overall, on Aaron Rodgers.
 
Second round?
 
The San Francisco 49ers changed head coaches in 2011 after a 6-10 season with quarterback Alex Smith posting an 82.1 passer rating, 59.6-percent completion percentage and an interception rate of 2.9 percent. (Jay Cutler “rated” 81.3 for 2012, completed 58.8 percent of his passes and had 3.2 percent of them intercepted).
 
The 49ers drafted Colin Kaepernick in the second round after the change from a defensive head coach (Mike Singletary) to one from the offensive side, Jim Harbaugh.
 
Third round?
 
The Seattle Seahawks lavished $10 million guaranteed on free agent quarterback Matt Flynn on March 18 last year. A month later, they drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. The Bears are still trying to catch up with him.
 
Fourth round?
 
The Washington Redskins used the second-overall pick last draft on Robert Griffin III, the obvious franchise-quarterback designate. In a spasm of seeming redundancy they subsequently selected Kirk Cousins out of Michigan State in the fourth round.
 
Cousins stepped in when Griffin was injured in the Baltimore Ravens game. Washington won in overtime after tying the game with 36 seconds remaining on a TD pass by Cousins, followed by a two-point conversion on a Cousins run.
 
Cousins started the following week against the Cleveland Browns with Griffin still down. Washington won again and made the playoffs with two more wins behind Griffin.
 
Fifth round?
 
The Packers picked up Mark Brunell at this point of the 1993 draft. They didn’t need him a lot that year or the next with Favre’s play and durability. But they did trade him to Jacksonville in 1995 for draft choices that were used on running back Travis Jervey and receiver Antonio Freeman, both eventual Pro Bowlers.
 
And they did make the playoffs both of Brunell’s years in Green Bay after missing the postseason every year since winning Super Bowl II except 1972 and strike-shortened 1982. At the very least that makes Brunell a low-cost good luck charm.
 
Sixth round?
 
Drew Bledsoe was serviceable at age 28 in 2000 and the Patriots were coming off an 8-8 season when they drafted Tom Brady.
 
Seventh round?
 
No. That’s where the Bears go for starting offensive linemen (Lance Louis, J’Marcus Webb).