The Chicago Bears struggled in many areas in the 2016 season. Injuries and inconsistency ravished the team leading them to a less than desirable record at 3-13. Many might argue that their top priority this off-season is the quarterback position. Which may be true.
The quarterbacks in the Windy City combined for a total of 19 interceptions. The 2015-2016 campaign saw Bears Quarterback, Jay Cutler, post a career high Passer (QB) rating of 92.3 and hopes were high for Cutler. Instead of building on his strong season, Cutler struggled all season with injuries and poor play in 2016-2017. Jay Cutler has once again proved he will never reach his full potential and at 33 years old his window is closing. When Cutler went down with injury, Brian Hoyer filled in the starting role and played safe and sound football. Brian Hoyer threw zero interceptions in his 200 passing attempts. Hoyer was an effective game manager that struggled to put up points as he only had 6 touchdowns in 6 games. When Brain Hoyer broke his arm in week 7 matchup against division rival Greenbay Packers, an unready Matt Barkley had to fill in at starting quarterback. Matt Barkley showed some flashes of potential but it usually was overshadowed by a messy turnover(s). Matt Barkley had 18 turnovers on 216 passing attempts. On a John Fox team, turnovers are key and the Bears gave up too many of them this season while not getting enough of them on defense. Considering the quarterback play this season, why should Chicago not draft a quarterback at the 3rd overall pick?
The quarterbacks in this draft are not worth a top 5 draft status! It’s hard to say
that considering Deshaun Watson, QB for Clemson, just put up 420 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions in his clutch performance against Alabama in the National Championship. The top quarterback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft are great college players but they will need development before their game translates to the NFL. Players in other positions are better and graded higher than the quarterback prospects this year. If you look at Chris Burkes NFL Draft Big Board 2.0 on Sports Illustrated you will see that the highest ranked quarterback is at 13 and it’s not the expected Mitch Trubisky, it is Deshaun Watson. The next quarterback is ranked at 19 and again it isn’t Trubisky, it is Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer instead. Mitch Trubisky isn’t found on the Big Board until rank 24. In most mock drafts I have seen, Mitch Trubisky has been the top quarterback chosen and he has consistently been in the top 3 picks of the draft. Now I know quarterbacks are valued a lot higher than most positions but reaching for a quarterback is the last thing the Chicago Bears should do. Chicago should look later in the draft for a quarterback.
Multiple reports surfaced early November that the Chicago Bears were doing “Extensive scouting” on Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya. If this is true, the Bears could grab him later on in the draft. Brad Kaaya has an accurate arm, excellent intangibles, and great pocket passing skills. Brad Kaaya will need time to develop as he has developed some bad habits from playing behind a poor offensive line. Some scouts believe if Brad Kaaya is developed properly, he could be a dangerous pocket passer in the NFL and for a 2nd or 3rd round pick that is great value. The Bears need to draft for value and drafting a quarterback that needs development with a top 3 pick in the first round is reaching. Reaching on draft day is how general managers get in trouble.
The Bears have multiple routes available to them. They could go trade, free agency, or draft for their new quarterback. I am not a big fan on trading for Jimmy Garoppolo. Considering the small sample size we have seen from him and the high asking price from New England, I think this would not be a wise route. Want more convincing just look at how Matt Cassel turned out. The Bears have an estimated $63 million in cap space per Bears Wire on USA Today. Having a lot of cap space opens the door to many different possibilities in free agency. I expect Kirk Cousins to resign with the Redskins so he is off of the table. With Kirk Cousins off the table, the free agent quarterbacks this off-season only have one player the Bears should be intrigued by and his name is Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod Taylor is expected to not be with the Buffalo Bills next season, which creates another avenue Ryan Pace can potentially pursue. The Bears organization has multiple options and should not be pressured into reaching for a quarterback with their top pick. Especially when dynamic, franchise changing players in positions of need like Alabama’s defensive end Jonathon Allen and Michigan’s safety Jabrill Peppers may be available.
Ryan Pace once said “You take the best players available”. Let’s hope Pace sticks to his own words and doesn’t reach for a quarterback with the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.