By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears are heading into the 2017 season with a former backup, a former number one pick and an untested journeyman at quarterback. Each has a story and each has something to prove with the Bears this summer in training camp. They will all attempt to not only fight for a spot as the starting quarterback in Chicago but also try to keep their hopes alive for making the team.
One is a former first round pick named Mark Sanchez. Thought to be a savior at quarterback, his career has been less than stellar and he might be getting his last chance to make it in the league. Another quarterback is Mike Glennon. Glennon, a career backup with limited starting experience, was given a sizable contract and the keys to the offense. It seems that the starting quarterback job is his to lose.
Finally, we have a guy that has done little in the league, but everyone seems to be high on, in Connor Shaw. Shaw was picked up by the Bears last off-season but was lost for the year with a serious leg injury. He’s back and ready to try to make the team this off-season. Can he do it?
If you look at these three prospects, you should be able to determine that the Bears don’t have a franchise quarterback yet. Unless one of them steps forward and surprises us, we are facing the fact that we have three “bridge” quarterbacks who are keeping the spot warm for a future franchise signal caller.
We have spent some time speculating about what the Bears may or may not do at the position in the 2017 NFL draft. In the past couple of weeks, we have discussed three of the top four prospects at the quarterback position who will be available in the draft. There were a lot of opinions shared and a lot of suggestions for what the Bears should do.
The most popular choice for people was to see Chicago take DeShaun Watson out of Clemson. Why not? He’s a proven winner, he has a lot of skill and he has room to develop. He’s a favorite among football fans as well as members of the media and many think he will be a superstar.
But let’s look at the numbers on Watson. The numbers don’t lie.
If you stack up the total number of interceptions you will see that in his 38 games, he had 32 interceptions. That is quite a few mistakes made in a short amount of time. If he can correct these mistakes in the NFL that would be great but is this a sign that he is a risk? Is he a gambler?
Granted, this is just one of many great and not so great aspects about Watson. There is much more to him than making mistakes.
The biggest upside to Watson is that he is a proven winner. He has been in some big games and come out on top. Anyone who knows how to win like that will be in high demand in the NFL. His future in the NFL could be the brightest of all the quarterbacks available in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft according to many experts. Kizer has some fantastic physical tools (he stands 6’4” and weighs 230 pounds) but is a raw talent. There are some experts that feel that the right team could mold him into a future superstar. Kizer definitely has a lot of upside and potential.
But he doesn’t have a lot of starting experience. In college, he started 25 games in two years and was benched last season for his inability be effective. Yes, he was benched but he is still considered to be one of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft. The question is, do you really want to take a guy who was benched the year before that high in the draft? Some team will. Will that team be the Bears?
Finally, there is Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has three years of stating experience having begun his starting career in college as a true freshman. He 93 touchdowns and just 29 interceptions. Experts say he has a lot of talent and some room to grow. Mahomes could be a bit of a project but he has a ton of potential.
Of course there are some drawbacks to Mahomes. Some people feel he is very similar to Jay Cutler. Remember that Cutler came to Chicago with less than stellar mechanics and a “gunslinger/risk taker” persona? We see how far that got with Cutler. Not that he is a carbon copy of Jay but Mahomes has some similarities particularly in forcing the ball and trying to make a play that clearly wasn’t there to be made.
Anyone for another try with Cutler? But seriously, Mahomes is his own guy and could turn out to be a great player someday.
When thinking about which one of these quarterbacks the Bears should take and if they should take one, there is one thing that we should keep in mind. That is that Chicago should not take any one of these three quarterbacks at number three in the draft. They are not worth the value for the pick and any one of them should be able to be picked up later on in the first or early second round. So let’s not think they are going to Chicago at number three.
But it’s highly likely that two of them, Watson and Kizer, could be gone before the Bears pick in the second round. If Chicago wanted one of those two, they may have to pay a heavy price to get back into the first round and grab them. Do they want to do that? The Bears should not want to lose any draft picks in this draft and need to be thinking about how many they can accumulate.
There are some quarterback needy teams ahead of the Bears after their pick in the first round and their next pick in the second. The Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans are three teams that could be looking for a quarterback. Not to mention others that might surprise everyone and grab a signal caller.
If all three of those top guys are gone then who do the Bears pick? Maybe the best thing to do is wait until there is a better and stronger bumper crop of quarterbacks? That should be the case in 2018.
As much as the Bears need a quarterback they don’t need one bad enough to waste a draft pick or sink the franchise. They can get by with what they have right now and wait for a better and less costly opportunities next season.
But the time for the Bears to rebuild and move forward is now. They cannot wait much longer.
Let’s say they are in the unlikely position to have their choice of all three of quarterbacks somewhere where they can get value and not lose picks. Which one should they take? Watson, the winner with an inordinate amount of interceptions? Kizer, a smart quarterback who was benched to end his collegiate career? Or should they take the guy who has a ton of upside but takes a lot of risks (Mahomes)?
Fans would love to see Watson in a Bears uniform and he could end up being a big-time winner someday. The Bears don’t need anyone to step in and start right away so he could develop for a season or two. But can his college success transfer over to the NFL? He’s probably the most qualified of the three but is a risk. But aren’t they all a risk?
Kizer getting benched raised a lot of eyebrows but that may not ward off a team that desperately needs help at the quarterback. If he gets on the right team, in the right system with the right quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, he could have success. He has a ton of upside but can he be consistent?
Finally, Mahomes appears to be the biggest risk of them all but could have the biggest reward. He needs to have a good coaching staff (sound like a broken record yet?) and be in the right situation. If he can clean up his mechanics and develop well, he could be a star.
Before we make our selection as to whom the Bears should pick, I would like to briefly touch on something that I have talked about before. When you draft a quarterback there are two ways he could end up being a bust. He could be a total failure on his own, failing to take the time to learn or keep motivated to be an NFL quarterback. That player could also be a bust thanks to the team he is on, in particular, because of the coaching staff.
A good coaching staff can develop a good quarterback and a bad coaching staff can ruin a good quarterback. Or at least they can take a promising prospect and make him a bust. We all know how much experience the Bears offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach have. Dowell Loggains has coached on the offensive side since 2008 giving him nine years of coaching experience. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone was a player in both college and in the NFL (his NFL career lasted three seasons). He has only been coaching since 2010. There isn’t a lot of experience between the two of them.
Is it even a wise idea to bring a new draftee to Chicago with the coaching staff the Bears’ have? It looks like they have the potential to create a “bust” out of any quarterback they bring in.
But they haven’t had talent like these three guys have to work with. Perhaps they can do some good?
Ultimately, if the Bears choose a quarterback, it has to come down to who gives them the best value at the position they can pick him at. They cannot take any of these guys at number three as none of them would bring them any value at that spot. Chicago also cannot have a costly trade back into the first round to get a guy. They would give up a lot to get there. If they do take a quarterback, and there is no guarantee they will, they need to get him in the second round.
If the Bears are looking for a good second round prospect, they need to look at a guy like Mahomes. He could be gone before the Bears make their second pick but a majority of experts feel he’s a second talent. The likelihood of him being there when the Bears make their pick is high.
Sure, Mahomes is a risk but the reward could be very high. If he can develop well, work through some of the issues he had in college and have time to learn, he could be a great starter in the future.
Kizer and Watson will be gone before the Bears pick in the second round. They aren’t worth taking at number three in the first round anyway. Sure, there could be a trade down in the first round, by Chicago, where these guys could be taken. That could be a wise move by the Bears.
One thing we have not covered is later round quarterback prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bears could be interested in someone like Miami’s Brad Kaaya or Pittsburg’s Nathan Peterman. But it appears as if most of their interest is with the three players we have been discussing.
Or they could not be interested in a quarterback at all and might wait. You never know.
What player do you feel the Bears should draft at quarterback? Should they even draft one in 2017?