Drafting first round QB's despite starters in place something of a Bears tradition

Drafting first round QB's despite starters in place something of a Bears tradition

The good thing about a draft scenario like the Bears’ selecting Mitch Trubisky on top of having signed Mike Glennon for starter-grade money is that it provides an almost inexhaustible quiver of talking and writing points. To wit...

... the 2017 draft is far from the first time that the Bears have invested a lofty pick in a player at a position that had been staffed not all that long before with a pricey free agent or still had a distinguished veteran. Don’tcha kind of wonder how Sid Luckman, 32, All-Pro as recently as 1947, felt seeing George Halas use the No. 3 pick of the 1948 draft on Bobby Layne?

The Bears had Jim McMahon in harness (literally and figuratively) in 1987 when they used their first-round pick on Jim Harbaugh. They went QB at No. 12 overall (Cade McNown) in 1999 despite the coaching staff believing they could make something out of Shane Matthews. The San Francisco 49ers had Joe Montana in place when they dealt for Steve Young. Montana didn’t like it but 49ers history was obviously the better for it. Not that Montana ever wanted for motivation, but he earned the first of his three All-Pro designations in — take a guess — 1987.

GM Jerry Angelo dramatically out-bid the market for running back Thomas Jones in 2004. Jones was OK that season, but the Bears came back in 2005 to use the No. 4 pick of that draft on Cedric Benson because, as former Bear and longtime NFL analyst Dan Jiggetts said at the time, Jones still had questions after the first season in which he’d started more than nine games.

Jones didn’t like it, and didn’t like Benson, who exacerbated his overall situation with a long holdout that didn’t sit well with veterans. Jones eventually forced a trade after the 2006 season and Benson wound up a three-time 1,000-yard rusher, albeit for the Cincinnati Bengals. Jones appeared to get the situation; after never rushing for 1,000 yards in his career, he piled up five straight of 1,100 yards or more after the Benson pick. Just sayin’ ... 

... any assessment of Ryan Pace’s competence or lack of same is beyond silly at this point. The object of his affections hasn’t even put on a Bears jersey yet, just held one up for cameras. The obvious tack here is that if Trubisky is franchise-grade as the Bears project, then the acquisition was the right one.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]

But the deeper perspective, on whether Pace was bidding against himself in the absence of known real offers, gets increasingly debunked. On top of Pace’s own experience of getting multiple calls from teams looking to trade up to No. 3 for a quarterback, and Pace knowing that when he didn’t want to deal that the next speed-dial by those callers would be to 49ers GM John Lynch, Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson suggested that Pace not only had reason for fear poachers, but also that multiple other teams shared Pace’s conclusion that Trubisky was the best quarterback in this draft.

Robinson said via SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Titans had gotten calls inquiring about acquiring their pick at No. 5. Those calls stopped when the Bears dealt up and grabbed Trubisky. Because Pat Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and every other quarterback was still on the board, the conclusion was that those other teams also had targeted Trubisky, as Pace had ... 

... the brouhaha over whether Glennon felt betrayed/bemused/befuddled/belittled/beheaded over the Trubisky selection borders on the comical. (No comments directly from Glennon about his reaction, but nevermind that.) But If Glennon purports to know some of the history of the NFL’s charter franchise (and others), he should not only have known this was a possibility, but also should have expected it. And he’s a big reason why — specifically, if it were clear that Glennon was a 27-year-old No. 1 quarterback, the Bears can be more casual in filling out the QB depth chart. The Green Bay Packers didn’t use anything higher than a fourth-round pick on a quarterback until Brett Favre was 36 because they knew they didn’t need to. The Bears are far from in that spot. Had they traded for Kirk Cousins, maybe; they didn’t.

To even link the Glennon signing to the Trubisky drafting is failing to grasp how teams try to staff the most important spot in their game.

Cases in point: the Seattle Seahawks signing Matt Flynn away from the Packers in 2012 for $20.5 million over three years, $9 million guaranteed. Flynn had all of two NFL starts at the time. The Seahawks rightly hedged their bet: They drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. Flynn then lost his job to Wilson by Week 1.

Glennon has 18 starts so maybe that’s why he got $18 million over two years. In any case, the Bears weren’t going to hang the future solely on a twice-replaced quarterback (by Josh McCown and Jameis Winston with Tampa Buccaneers) any more than Seattle was going Flynn-only.

Another in point: the Washington Redskins traded massively up in 2012 to draft Robert Griffin III. Then Washington turned around and invested a fourth-rounder in Cousins.

NFL Draft Day 2 options for Bears

NFL Draft Day 2 options for Bears

The only thing more stunning than Ryan Pace’s trade up to get Mitchell Trubisky in Thursday’s first round would be if he selected DeShone Kizer with what’s now his lone pick on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

The Notre Dame quarterback is still on the board after Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson were the lone signal-callers chosen Thursday (in the opening 12 picks). But it left Pace’s team still looking to address needs at several defensive positions.

Among the potential help on the defensive line are Michigan State’s Malik McDowell, DeMarcus Walker of Florida State and Jordan Willis of Kansas State, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year who played with Cody Whitehair and on the opposing South team at the Senior Bowl in January as John Fox’s staff handled the North.

There’s still good quality at safety as the second round will begin with four selections ahead of Pace: Washington heavy hitter Budda Baker, Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine sensation Obi Melifonwu of Connecticut, as well as Utah’s Marcus Williams.

[RELATED - Bears trade to draft Trubisky a statement of Ryan Pace's nature]

If Pace is inclined to further add to his cornerback room, many projected or graded Washington’s Kevin King and Florida’s Quincy Wilson to be gone by now. Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie has caught the eyes of several observers who watch a lot more Buffaloes football than I do.

At wide receiver, two players who performed well in Mobile for Fox’s squad were East Carolina’s Zay Jones and Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, who can add to the return game after averaging 107 catches over four years in that FBS program. Two impressive Big Ten wideouts who bring different things to the table — Penn State’s Chris Godwin and Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel are available, as is USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The top three graded tight ends disappeared Thursday night. Now it’s to be determined whether South Alabama’s Gerald Everett, Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech or Michigan’s Jake Butt are worthy of 36th overall.

Oh, and of the two offensive tackles chosen in the first round, one of them wasn’t Alabama’s Cam Robinson, nor Temple riser Dion Dawkins.

Revised mock draft: Why Deshaun Watson will only end up with Bears via trade

Revised mock draft: Why Deshaun Watson will only end up with Bears via trade

With Deshaun Watson believed to be outside of a Bears top three consisting of LSU safety Jamal Adams, Texas A&M Myles Garrett and linebacker/end Solomon Thomas, indications are growing that a trade down will be necessary for the Bears to select the Clemson quarterback in Thursday’s first round of the 2017 draft.

GM Ryan Pace said on Wednesday that the Bears have a core of three elite players from which they would select if they remained at the No. 3-overall spot in round one. Pace also strongly reiterated his firm belief in staying a course to land the best possible player, something that sounded vaguely like a caution against reaching for Watson, who is not rated on the absolute-value scale at the levels of Adams, Garrett or Thomas.

The Bears view Adams as a talent and personality that changes a locker-room culture that Pace already believes is trending sharply up anyway. Some internal opinions favor Thomas (assuming that Garrett goes No. 1 to Cleveland), preferring the pass rusher. But the revised mock draft here is that between Adams or Thomas going to the Bears, Adams becomes the choice, based only on the Bears’ dire need for an impact safety; not a strong “choice,” however, because John Fox and every defense-based coach will always want a potential top pass rusher.

Pace gave a hint of Bears thinking when he outlined the three-tiered structure being formulated at Halas Hall: the three elites, the supposed pool set for the eventuality of the Bears staying at No. 3; the mid-round “cloud,” pointing to the Bears planning for offers to trade down; and a late-round “cloud” that contemplated a surprise talent lasting deep into round one and the Bears moving up from early round two to strike.

Watson is believed to lie in that mid-first-round cluster the Bears have identified. The Cleveland Browns have initiated calls to other teams in the top eight seeking a trade up from No. 12; if the Bears become the Browns’ trade partner and take that No. 12 pick in addition to an additional two or three picks, Watson and his “cloud” come into play.