Following a difficult 2016 campaign, the Chicago Bears had their work cut out for them. After managing just three wins, the Bears were finally able to rid themselves of Jay Cutler‘s drama. The team struck quickly to replace him, signing free agent quarterback Mike Glennon to a three year pact. However, the rest of free agency was modest, leaving the Bears with a plethora of holes to fill in the draft (CB, OL, TE, LB, S). But alas, Bears fans had hope; the team owned the draft’s third selection and was poised to add a bunch of new talent for their rebuild.
It didn’t take long to dash those hopes. The Bears shocked the football world when, within the first half hour, they traded up just one slot to take North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. In doing so, the Bears gave up their third and fourth round picks in this year’s draft, and a third rounder next year. That’s a steep price. Fans grumbled, pundits criticized, Trubisky was booed at a Bulls game. In other words, it was a mess.
And the move caused an even greater stir the next morning when it was reported that general manager, Ryan Pace, hadn’t even discussed or shared his intention to trade up and select Trubisky, with coach John Fox, until just several hours before the draft. Word later surfaced that no other team even attempted to move up into the two spot; the Bears could have had Trubisky without trading up. Had Ryan Pace been duped by first time general manager, John Lynch, a man who was literally working the initial moments of his first ever draft? The proverbial egg hovered largely over the face of the Windy City.
Multiple reports before the draft had the Cleveland Browns looking to trade up to number two, with their target being Mitchell Trubisky. And whether Trubisky is worth it is a question for another day. Ryan Pace at least had some basis to think he had to beat another team to it. Trubisky was his guy and so he had to go get him. The reality is that this draft will always be measured by Trubisky’s success. If he becomes a star, no one will remember, or care, what the Bears gave up for him. And if not, it will forever be known as the Bears Robert Griffin III moment.
Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Draft Review
Let’s take a look at the Bears entire draft.
1st Round, 2nd Overall (via trade with 49ers): QB Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina)
2nd Round, 45th Overall (via trade with Cardinals): TE Adam Shaheen (Ashland)
4th Round, 112th Overall (via trade with Rams): S Eddie Jackson (Alabama)
4th Round, 119th Overall (via trade with Cardinals): RB Tarik Cohen (North Carolina A&T)
5th Round, 147th Overall: G Jordan Morgan (Kutztown, PA)
Bears Draft Grade: 5/10
The Best Player: Mitch Trubisky
The Bears clearly bet the house on the young quarterback. And while he only started thirteen games in his college career (all this past year), Trubisky threw for thirty touchdowns against just six interceptions. Scouts love his measurables, he’s 6’2 with a strong arm and a crisp, efficient delivery. He’s also not afraid to take off with the football; he scored five rushing touchdowns last year. Despite the small sample size, many scout’s rated Trubisky as the best passer in this year’s class. The potential is there, and if Trubisky develops as the Bears expect, order will be quickly restored in the Second City.
The Head Scratcher: The Trade
It was the trade heard round the football world! The Bears easily made the most scrutinized move of the draft, trading three valuable picks to move up just one slot. Some would argue that the selection of Trubisky itself was a curious one, given the contract the Bears just gave Mike Glennon. But that’s not the thought here. Glennon hasn’t played much in the league and so he’s still an unknown commodity. The Bears can move on from him after this year with minimal cap implication, and so drafting a quarterback prospect wasn’t unreasonable. But the cost was; the Bears could’ve had their guy had they stayed put at three. It’s simply too large a price for a team in full rebuild.
(Dis)Honorable Mention: As a result of their draft day transaction, the Bears finished the draft with just five picks. But they used three of those on players from small or relatively unknown schools. Will their draftees hold up against the size, speed, and strength they will see at the NFL level? This has to be a big question mark for the organization.
The Surprise: The Trade
Are you seeing a trend here? The Bears practically came out of nowhere in making the deal for Trubisky. Most of the football world knew that the 49ers were open for business, and that Trubisky could be in play at number two. But everyone was surprised that the team to do it was the Chicago Bears. With the addition of Mike Glennon, it was widely assumed (myself included) that the Bears would fill a more pressing need with their first selection. Most had them taking LSU safety Jamal Adams, who fell to the New York Jets at number six. No one saw this coming.
The Steal: Adam Sheehan
In a decidingly underwhelming draft class, this is no easy call. The thought here is that Adam Sheehan, the tight end from Ashland, could be a good one. At 6’6″ tall and nearly 280 pounds, Sheehan has an enormous frame, well-suited for a tight end. He runs extremely well for his size and while his blocking could use improvement, he should make an excellent target for Glennon or Trubisky. Sheehan likely would’ve been drafted earlier had he played at a more prominent school. Nonetheless, he has a chance to be a steal in the middle of the second round.
Most Likely to Turn Heads in Training Camp: Tarik Cohen
Fourth round pick Tarik Cohen is electrifying. The Bears already have a strong running game and Cohen is only 5’6, so do not expect him to get a ton of carries. But make sure to be watching when he does. Cohen is shifty, elusive, and capable of stopping/cutting on a dime. He may very well be this year’s Tyreek Hill (without the off-the-field issues). Cohen’s nickname: “The Human Joystick.” Anyone remember Dante Hall?
The Rest: Eddie Jackson, Jordan Morgan
The list would be longer were it not for the Trubisky move, but fourth rounder Eddie Jackson is an intriguing prospect. Jackson was a ball-hawking safety and adept punt returner at Alabama, and would’ve been selected higher had he left school a year ago. But rather than capitalize on an exceptional season (six interceptions, two touchdowns), Jackson chose to return in the hopes of winning back-to-back titles. His 2016 season, however, was cut short by a broken leg in the Crimson Tide’s eighth game. Assuming he returns to form, Jackson will be a player to watch.
Be it Mike Glennon or Mitchell Trubisky, neither will succeed without protection up front, and offensive line was one of the Bears’ biggest off0season needs. But did they wait too long to address it? Jordan Morgan is a monster. He’s 6’3″, 320 pounds and manhandled much of his Division II competition as a four year starter at left tackle. But he’s projected as a guard in the NFL and the biggest question is how he will handle bigger and stronger players. This selection may very well be too little and too late. The fifth round pick played for a school that is virtually unknown. Have you heard of Kutztown? I didn’t think so; neither have I.
The Bottom Line:
This draft will forever be derided for the Trubisky move. The cost was high for a player that would’ve been there had they waited. Does Ryan Pace have a clear vision for this team’s future? Don’t ask John Fox – he won’t know. The answer now rests firmly on Trubisky’s shoulders, but for a team coming off a three win season and with so many needs, the Bears just didn’t add enough impact players.