By Bryan Dietzler
If you have been paying any attention to the workouts and pro days that are currently happening, you may have noticed that the Bears staff is keying in on quarterbacks. What has made the news the most is the fact that the Bears management, including their top talent experts and coaches, were present at the Clemson pro day to see the workout that DeShaun Watson had for scouts.
Could this be an indication of things to come on April 27th?
The Bears have struggled at the quarterback position for years. They have not had a quarterback represent them in the Pro Bowl in a long time. Chicago has failed to have anyone they can really call a “franchise” quarterback in years. They had Jay Cutler for eight years but both he and the Bears were inept and the “marriage” between the two didn’t work. He’s now out of Chicago and out of a job.
With plenty of money to spend in free agency, the Bears had their choice of any signal caller that would be available. But, quite honestly, there weren’t too many available. So, they signed a player who they felt would be the best option. That player was former Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon. Glennon has been handed a 43.5 million dollar contract and the keys to the offense.
If you know the Bears and how NFL teams operate, you might see that they could be tipping their hand. Of course, it could be a ruse too. The theory is, the Bears have brought in Glennon to help be the bridge between next season and when a quarterback they plan to draft is ready to take over as the starter. It would appear as if the Bears are going to take a quarterback next month, develop him and then let him take over in the future.
Another scenario is that Chicago Bears could wait until the 2018 NFL Draft to draft and then develop a quarterback. This year’s quarterback class is not the best (many scouts agree) so the Bears may want to take a flyer on drafting a quarterback this year and get one next year.
So back to Watson. With all their eyes on him, is it possible the Bears could be thinking of drafting him in the 2017 NFL Draft? If so, where would they take him? Could he be had with the third pick in the draft (where the Bears are sitting) or could they snag him with a pick a little later on?
No matter where the Bears select Watson, if they do, the biggest question is would he be worth it? If you have watched any of the games Watson has played in or seen any of his workouts, it’s easy to see that Watson is a solid quarterback. Not spectacular but solid. He’s got a lot of upside and a lot of potential but still need some development. He may not be able to start right away but that’s ok, at least for the Bears. They and Watson can wait.
Watson is a player that can be molded and shaped into a strong future starter given the right opportunity and the right coaching. Going to the Bears would be the perfect opportunity for him. They are not going to throw him into the fire right away and should (and probably will) allow him to develop over time. It might take a season or two but they will have Glennon at the helm and he can manage games while Watson learns and gets ready.
What the Bears may lack, however, is a strong coaching staff that can develop a future franchise quarterback. The two coaches who will do the most work with a guy like Watson will be offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone. Loggains does not have a lot of history or coaching experience with any decent quarterbacks. He worked in Tennessee pre-Marcus Mariotta and was in Cleveland where the quarterback position is always a mess.
Ragone hasn’t had that strong of a coaching career with quarterbacks either. He has been with Tennessee and Washington but in Washington he didn’t work directly with Kirk Cousins (the starter back in 2015). His experience with quarterbacks comes from being a player at the position.
So is this a coaching staff that can effectively develop a quarterback? It doesn’t appear so. They don’t have a lot of experience with good quarterbacks or that much experience at all in coaching offensive football.
If the Bears were to select Watson in the draft, would they be able to develop him or would he fall by the wayside and end up being a bust? The Bears have not been known for being able to develop rookie quarterbacks over the course of their long and storied history. Is it too dangerous to draft Watson for fear that Chicago couldn’t develop him? Could he fail and the third overall pick this year (if they were to choose him there) would be wasted?
Let’s say that the Bears do have the knowledge to develop Watson. Is he someone who can learn and adapt and eventually be a starter? He definitely has the physical tools to play quarterback in the NFL but some question his ability to handle the game mentally. Can he learn an NFL system and be effective?
First of all, time is what any young quarterback needs to develop and he should get that time in Chicago. He probably wouldn’t see any starts his first season unless there was an injury. And he can learn the offense, it will just take some time but it will be time well spent.
So, if the Bears have their sights set on Watson, where should they draft him? Is he worth the third overall pick in the draft? Can (should) they trade down and get him?
Most experts now believe that University of North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky could be the first quarterback off the board. It goes back and forth almost every day between Trubisky, Watson and DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame.
But Watson could be (and should be) there at number three. If he is there, should the Bears take him?
The best scenario for the Bears is to trade down and grab Watson in a little bit lower spot. Depending on who you read, Watson could go anywhere from number ten all the way to number thirty. If the Bears could get somewhere around number 15 in the first round, they could get him there. With that, they could grab some additional draft picks along the way. That would be a huge bonus.
While massive attendance by the Bears’ staff at Watson’s workout could be telling, you never know Chicago’s real intentions. A quarterback would be nice but is this the draft to do it in? Is Watson “the guy”? The Bears do need help at quarterback and need to start thinking about the future.
Perhaps Watson is the guy the Bears need, perhaps he isn’t. Either way, they need to be smart about where they get him. They need to be able to be good at developing him and cannot waste this opportunity. These chances don’t come around that often.