By Bryan Dietzler
The up and down feelings resulting from the Chicago Bear’s draft still lingers among fans just a few days later. Some have called it the worst draft that the Bears have ever had. Why not? They seemingly traded away most of their good picks for one guy who is not a highly-experienced player. Yes, the Bears managed to get some of those picks back and move around a bit but who did they draft? They took three lower level collegiate players. This is how some people feel.
But not everyone is so down on the Bear’s draft as there is a lot of potential in this draft. The picks in this draft signify a strong movement to make the future better in Chicago. Maybe not the near future but the distant future. If any of these players make a significant impact on the team, it will be a success. If they all falter, it’s going to be a long next few years in Chicago.
What can a person make of this draft? We are about to find out.
Let’s review the first two picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and tight end Adam Shaheen.
By now, every single Bears’ fan knows how much the Bears gave up getting Trubisky so that we won’t go into that. Some say it was too much while this writer feels that it’s too early to determine if they gave up more than they should have. From listening to reports, it appears as if the Bears had their eye on Trubisky very early on and wanted him bad. So they did what they could to get him.
Instead of starting off with his negative aspects, I would like to focus on the positive things that he brings to the Bears. First off, he is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. His mechanics are sound and throws the ball with authority. He is comfortable in the pocket and stands in to make the throw without forcing things.
His regular season interception numbers were solid, but he struggled in the Tar Heels bowl game against Stanford at the end of last year. So some may worry how he will perform in big games. And every NFL game is a “big” game.
When you look at what he struggles with, the number one thing that sticks out is experience. He started just 13 games at UNC. He has much less experience than guys like DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes had coming into the draft. Trubisky comes from an offense where he was required only to make one read of the defense and throw the ball. In the NFL, quarterbacks are required to make multiple reads to choose the best place to throw the ball to.
Hopefully, Trubisky will be able to handle this. Thinking about this more, it may take him a while to pick up the intricacies of an NFL playbook, but that’s ok. He wasn’t drafted to start day one.
Unless disaster befalls the Bears at the quarterback position this season, Trubisky should stay on the bench and learn. Then, he could be worked into the lineup in 2018 and become the Bear starter. But they cannot rush him into the lineup.
We will take more time to look at Trubisky later on before the start of the season.
After trading down in the second round, to number 45, the Bears went after a small school standout tight end from Ashland named Adam Shaheen. Shaheen, a 6’6”, 278-pound athlete, comes from a Division II school into the NFL with high hopes. The need for a tight end was clear. With Zach Miller injured often, Dion Sims not that productive (in the past) and the remaining guys “bubble” players, the Bears felt that they had to do something at the position.
Shaheen is a big bodied guy who could be one of the strongest tight ends in the game when it’s all said and done. His pass catching ability is solid, and his ability to run routes and get open is sound. The Bears will like his ability to catch the ball. His blitz recognition is good, and he has the tools to become a good blocker at the NFL level. He is pretty quick and accelerates well after the catch.
Of course, his level of competition at Ashland was not anywhere close to what he will see in the NFL. Therefore, he will have a pretty significant learning curve. He will have to learn how to work through defenders to get open and stay on his route and keep timing with the quarterback. Shaheen needs to play less “stiff” and keep his body under control. The Bear’s tight end coach will have a lot of work to do, but he could turn Shaheen into a solid pro.
He’s not a speedy tight end nor is his frame muscular. But once he gets going, he’s hard to stop.
Many people questioned the pick because he comes from a Division II program. But he has a ton of potential with room to grow. It’s possible he could end up being a solid pass catching and blocking tight end which is something the Bears could use. A healthy tight end is something that they could use as well. Injuries have hit this position hard, and they need some stability in it.
The future for Trubisky and Shaheen is going to be bright. But here is the key. If the Bears bring Trubisky along slowly and let him learn, he could develop into a fine signal caller in the future. If they throw him in too quickly, he will stumble and fail. There is no way that the Bears should be in a rush to have him get on the field. They won’t be either unless something very drastic happIt’s.
Its likely Shaheen will have a big learning curve coming into the NFL after not playing against top-level competition in college. He is going to see some things that he never saw at Ashland and will surely struggle to begin with. But don’t expect him to be a starter from day one. He’s likely to be the third or fourth tight end (behind Miller and Sims at least). Then, he should work his way up in a season or two. If he can stay healthy, learn and adapt, he could be an outstanding tight end.
Yes, fans and the media have criticized this draft heavily, and on its face, it appears as if it’s faulty. But if Trubisky can turn out to be a star this draft will be a good one. And if Shaheen can play well and grow into a starting tight end, the Bears passing game will be much better.
It’s way too early to make judgment calls just yet. Give it time.