— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) May 12, 2017
First Round: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
“The Chicago Bears select… Mitchell Trubisky…”
To the surprise of all and the dismay of many, these words from commissioner Roger Goodell brought a new era to the Bears and concluded an exciting, tumultuous offseason of speculation. With eight-year veteran Jay Cutler out the door, the organization wasted no time finding another premium quarterback as his long-term successor. As names like Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams, and even Deshaun Watson were floated around in regards to the Bears during that busy week leading up to the draft, Trubisky was largely unknown, and, thus, the pick and the trade that led up to it became the first surprise of the night. Still, an unexpected pick does not necessarily translate to a bad pick, and considering how long the Bears’ fan base has wanted their previous quarterback out of town, the vitriol from the fans is strange.
Having watched Trubisky’s tape, I do not have a lot to harp on. Though the game against Virginia Tech is a stain on his season as it is unreasonable to place any weight on a player’s performance during a hurricane. Outside of that one hiccup, Trubisky was excellent. Game in and game out, he displayed top-level accuracy, particularly in the short and intermediate range. Even in his worst statistical games, such as the bowl game against Stanford, he still made a number of key passes. His final drive in that game was as good as any you would see all year. Despite a number of drops, he hit receivers in the hands on both a back-shoulder fade and a deep go in the back of the endzone before finally hitting wide receiver Bug Howard on a scramble drill. Trubisky also has excellent poise for such an inexperienced quarterback, and routinely created space in collapsing pockets. That, coupled with his accuracy, makes him a legitimate candidate to be a Day One starter, especially in a simplified offense like the one the Eagles ran around Carson Wentz last year.
However, Trubisky is not without his flaws. His mechanics, for instance, need serious refining. He failed to set his feet and transfer his weight regularly, especially on deep passes and rollouts. This contributed to a number of frustrating underthrows, as he saw deep passes float and hang up regularly despite having more than enough arm strength. Additionally, the “thirteen starts” argument does have credence. He was often late to make reads, which also contributed to the underthrown deep balls, and most of his interceptions came from failing to notice a defender dropping into coverage. Ultimately, however, the good outweighs the bad. The physical tools are all there, and the flaws are very coachable, which, in my opinion, makes him the best quarterback prospect since Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. So, I have no problem with the player himself.
What I do, however, have a problem with is the process that the Bears took to get Trubisky. Even the trade is not particularly alarming, as the price was not significantly higher than the cost suggested by basic trade value charts, and was still much lower than what the Chiefs and Texans gave in their trades. Though one has to wonder whether anyone else would have actually traded up; it is better to be safe than sorry when quarterbacks are involved—especially with a team like the Bears, who have been reported to have been trying to trade up for quarterbacks the past two years with no success. What is problematic is the set of elaborate smokescreens that the Bears set in desperation, only to achieve next to nothing. Most flagrantly, there are reports that the entire coaching staff was kept in the dark about the move until mere hours before the draft. If this is true, it would indicate severe toxicity within the organization for years to come, and would be far more harmful than any discount they received on the trade as a result.
This also makes me wonder whether the signing of Mike Glennon was also a smokescreen. Though the Jets and Buccaneers were also allegedly interested, the Bears almost doubled the Bucs’ highest offer of $8 million. Perhaps, the big contract was proposed by the Bears themselves to give the illusion of settling on a long-term quarterback, and steer teams away from trading up for Trubisky, lowering the Bears’ costs of trading up. If that is the case, then the Bears lost out on signing a potential stud in A.J. Bouye or Stephon Gilmore, or retaining No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery for the same money, simply for the sake of slightly lowering a trade price. Furthermore, even the discount that the Bears got wasn’t particularly impressive. Two 3rds and a 4th isn’t astronomical, but if Ryan Pace actually spent a whole offseason setting smokescreens and keeping secrets from his own coaching staff just for that, that is a failure.
— Lance (@BestHumanTalent) May 13, 2017
Rounds 2-5: A Handful of Role-Players
As surprising as the Trubisky pick was, the rest of the draft was a little underwhelming. Second round tight end Adam Shaheen has intriguing size and gets open well, but his potential should ultimately be capped by his lack of ideal speed. His game reminds me of former Bear Martellus Bennett; however, he is nowhere near the blocker that Bennett is, so his ceiling is closer to someone like Kyle Rudolph. Fourth round running back Tarik Cohen is also interesting, but his ceiling is also limited. At only 5’6”, his role will strictly be that of a third-down back. Furthermore, even as third-down backs go, he was drafted over superior talents, to me, in Donnel Pumphrey and T.J. Logan, Trubisky’s college teammate.
Fifth round pick Jordan Morgan was a solid upside pick, as he is a mauler in the run game. However, if Morgan ultimately plays inside at guard, it only further crowds an already-stacked position. Moreover, there was better value on the board in defensive back Desmond King. The best overall pick was probably the first fourth round selection of safety Eddie Jackson. Though Adrian Amos is a solid role player, his ball skills are next to nonexistent. If Jackson is able to come back from his season-ending leg injury, he could develop into the ballhawk, centerfielder-type safety that the Bears desperately need. However, with the way Kevin White’s career has gone, that is a big “if.”
Ultimately, while the draft was not the disaster that people make it out to be, it was a little disappointing. I like Trubisky as a prospect, and there is little reason to complain about a quarterback-needy team taking the best quarterback on the board. However, the way the Bears went about it is alarming, and could be detrimental to the organization as a whole. As for the rest of the draft, there was no “slam dunk” player, like Cody Whitehair last year or Eddie Goldman the year before. Shaheen should be a solid starter, but I question the value of Cohen and Morgan, especially after signing Benny Cunningham and Eric Kush. Eddie Jackson could become a stud, but it is very likely that his career is somewhat held up by injuries. Overall, it was well intentioned, as the Bears got their quarterback of the future and added weapons for him. However, the value of said weapons is somewhat limited, and leaving a draft with only five rookies, with as many holes as the Bears have, is a bad look.
If you're an optimist, without a broken leg, Eddie Jackson did project as more of a second-round talent. That's "technically" premium.
— Robert Zeglinski (@RobertZeglinski) May 11, 2017
Round 1: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC: B (A- for the pick, C+ for the process involved in getting him)
Round 2: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland: B
Round 4: Eddie Jackson, FS, Alabama: B+
Round 4: Tarik Cohen, RB, NC A&T: C
Round 5: Jordan Morgan, OL, Kutztown: C
Overall: C+ (B- on players alone, but a 3-13 team cannot afford to head into Year Three of a regime with just five drafted rookies)