Looks like Bears want quarterback in draft, but will they trade up to make sure they get their guy?

Looks like Bears want quarterback in draft, but will they trade up to make sure they get their guy?

All draft analyses are fluid, including the ones of NFL teams right up to the minute they are on the clock. But inside of two weeks until the 2017 selection derby, the conclusion here has become that the Bears will use their first pick — be it the No. 3 overall choice or another should they trade up — on a quarterback.

Earlier thought was that the Bears might be looking at a safety — LSU's Jamal Adams or Ohio State's Malik Hooker — but the Bears have conducted some of the most exhaustive research and evaluations in recent memory not of one quarterback but multiple quarterback prospects, in particular Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech's Pat Mahomes and Clemson's Deshaun Watson.

And the expectation here is that Watson will be the Bears' selection.

How that happens, though, could be more interesting than simply using the third pick on the Clemson product.

To this point, the predominance of thought has centered around whether the Bears would trade down from the No. 3 pick. But a confluence of circumstances might be positioning the Bears for a possible trade the opposite direction. A trade up could allow the Bears to pick Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, the most dominant pass rusher in this year's draft, or more likely Watson, who checks every box for what general manager Ryan Pace wants in a franchise quarterback.

What are those circumstances?

Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson said during the owners meetings last month that the Browns are not trading the No. 1 pick. Policy statements in the NFL can be fluid, but Jackson and the Browns are having internal debates on whether to settle their quarterback situation with North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky or to stay the presumed course with Garrett.

Meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made it clear that operators are standing by. "We're open for business," said Lynch, who shored up his quarterback situation with Brian Hoyer this offseason and has sparked whispers that he is keeping his powder dry for a run at Kirk Cousins next offseason. "We'll listen to anything."

Lynch confirmed last week that the 49ers had gotten calls for the No. 2 pick, and it would be a surprise if Pace and the Bears were not among those doing at least a little due diligence. Pace showed his willingness to be aggressive by trading up from No. 11 to No. 9 last year in order to grab rush-linebacker Leonard Floyd ahead of the New York Giants.

Does Pace make another call on draft day? For Watson?

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As comfortable as Pace appeared to be as recently as the owners meetings with Mike Glennon, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer is under contract at a very good price after this season, meaning he could settle in nicely as a backup if the Bears' quarterback addition this draft proves to be franchise-grade. And Pace has been very clear that improving and settling the quarterback position is Goal No. 1. So the thought that he is done at a position that important seems like a stretch, though impressions of him during the NFL meetings were pretty unanimous that he felt good if he had to go forward with Glennon. Remember he gave John Fox, Vic Fangio and the defense an edge rusher with the team's first pick last year with Floyd.

Would the Bears need to trade up, though? They would if they had decided their goal-pick was Watson (or Kizer or Mahomes, for that matter) and he was going to be stolen out from under them by the 49ers dealing the pick to someone else. The reason teams trade to get up that high is nearly always to snare a quarterback.

The team at No. 2 in the last draft, Cleveland, traded that pick and a fourth-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles, who wanted Carson Wentz. The cost was steep: the Eagles' 2016 first-, third- and fourth-round picks as well as Philadelphia's first-round pick in 2017 and second-round pick in 2018.

But the Eagles needed to move all the way up from No. 15 and had to offer a very sweet pot. The Bears would be moving from No. 3 to No. 2, meaning the 49ers would still have a top-five pick, plus whatever else the package includes.

For loose comparison purposes, in order to move from No. 4 to No. 3 in the 2012 draft, the Browns needed to give the Minnesota Vikings that No. 4 choice along with picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds of that draft. That involved the Browns wanting a running back (Trent Richardson), but it serves as a one-slot trade-up template.

However it plays out, there is no shortage of scenarios for the Bears. But thinking strategically, the Bears have no intention of being anywhere near this draft position again anytime soon. So the thought that the Bears can wait for the 2018 quarterback class is a bad one. Even if the quarterbacks are significantly better, the Bears figure they'll be long gone by the time their turn comes up in 2018.

So the time for the Bears is now, and as the stocks of Watson, Mahomes and Kizer rise — all have been intensely scrutinized by the Bears — the need might be to move up a spot to be sure of landing their idea of a prize.

And the 2017 draft is becoming rife with possibilities for doing just that.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.