Mullin: A draft run on QBs? The Bears hope so

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Mullin: A draft run on QBs? The Bears hope so

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 8:57 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Questions may persist in some quarters about Jay Cutlers knee injury but not about the Bears quarterback situation. Theyre set at the top, even if coordinator Mike Martz isnt exactly sold on Caleb Hanie.

The Bears invested heavy draft capital in the trade for Cutler and because they did, they are potentially in a position to watch from a comfortable vantage point an interesting scramble for quarterbacks that a number of analysts see forming with the 2011 draft.

For some months the debate over whether Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton was the better of the top two quarterbacks, and they were the consensus only two expected to go in the first round.

Now the projected number of quarterbacks going in the first round is up to four and even six.

I think theres panic among teams that are looking for a quarterback, said NFL Networks Mike Mayock.

The Bears sit at No. 29 and couldnt be happier if that many teams are chasing quarterbacks.

It means that trade discussions may be more lucrative as with teams willing to spend more to move up into the first round to address the franchise position. It also means another cluster of players that teams take before No. 29, leaving more of the players that the Bears hoped would be within their reach.

The fastest-rising quarterback this week has been Jake Locker from Washington, considered by some to have been the potential No. 1 overall pick of last years draft but for his decision to honor his word to stay in school. For teams looking at character, that makes a good impression.

He said he was coming back for his senior year, said former coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. He said he wanted to take Washington to a bowl game, and I admire that about him. He could have walked away from the Husky program and potentially been the number one pick a year ago according to a lot of analysts. But he wanted to do what he said he was going to do, and that is a trait that I really admire.

Pro Football Weeklys Nolan Nawrocki, who sees Locker going No. 12 to the Minnesota Vikings, projects the Seattle Seahawks taking TCU quarterback Andy Dalton at No. 25. Nolan also likes the Miami Dolphins looking past maturity concerns and taking Ryan Mallett of Arkansas at No. 15.

The Bears have 28 slots ahead of them. Nolans projection would take care of five. Lets put lines through defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley as being likely top-10ers, along with linebacker Von Miller, cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara, and wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones. The Bears wouldnt be taking a wideout in the first round, nor a linebacker, and those two cornerbacks wont last past No. 15.

Thats 12 of the 28 down. Figure USC tackle Tyron Smith to Dallas at No. 9, where most draft projections place him, and lets say three other offensive linemen from the group that includes Anthony Castonzo, Mike Pouncey, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder.

Now were up to 15, probably more, and thats not folding in defensive ends like DaQuan Bowers, Robert Quinn and Adrian Clayborn. Take those three off the board and were at roughly No. 18.

The Bears rarely trade up (just once under GM Jerry Angelo and that in a later round) so they need chunks of players to go at positions not on their must-have list. Offensive line is one of those positions but even taking off a few still leaves a starter-grade talent or three for them.

All of which gets exponentially more interesting with the possibility of as many as six quarterbacks going in the first round. Notably here, the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints all got some private time with Dalton. All are set right now but with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning deep into their careers, adding those teams to any quarterback discussion works to the Bears favor, particularly since two of the three are in the other conference.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

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.