The Chicago Bears drafted Mitchell Trubisky. Now what?
I don’t know if you heard, but the Chicago Bears sure pulled one hell of a stunt during the opening night of the draft. It should be noted that there will be a flurry of more organized draft based discussions in the coming weeks and months leading up to the regular season. I simply want to take a brief moment to look at the draft class the Bears put together and openly ask the question: what the hell happened?
As a preface to this article, the author in question is an obnoxious, spoiled Green Bay Packer fan since he was old enough to form memories. Likewise, the editor in question who reviewed this article lives in Chicago and is thus trapped into being a Chicago Bears fan. I have journalistic integrity that instills in me the desire to approach this in an analytical and unbiased way. But there is another part of me that is a fan of taunting rivals. And it can’t be denied that this part of me gets a kick out of forcing my wonderful editor to suffer through this discussion. You’re a peach, Will.
Now, getting into the Chicago Bears draft class, we have to first acknowledge the insane trade that was made with the San Francisco 49ers. On the opening night of the draft, the Cleveland Browns did what would turn out to be the only predictable thing about the weekend and selected Myles Garrett. It was soon after this move that we heard that the Bears had leapfrogged over the 49ers, giving up a third and a fourth round pick in the process, as well as a 2018 third rounder. Surely the Bears would be going after coveted DE Soloman Thomas, yes? The Bears defensive line leaves a lot to be desired, and having a ready-to-roll defensive end could potentially help right? But no. Chicago instead pulled the trigger on North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky.
Let’s unpack that pick.
For starters, let it be known that the 49ers had no idea Chicago was gunning for Mitch when they agree to the trade. 49er GM John Lynch was convinced it was Thomas, even going as far as to justify his reasoning by reminding his war room that the Bears had signed Mike Glennon over the offseason. Which, yeah, let’s talk about that first. Chicago had all but crushed the quarterback draft discussion with the signing of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Glennon.
This came in the wake of releasing Jay Cutler. While nobody really assumed Glennon was going to save the franchise, we at least all assumed the Bears viewed Glennon as a viable starter — an assumption based on a contract that maxes out with a three-year $45 million deal. Granted, he’s only guaranteed 1 year and 16 million of that, but 16 Million dollars is pretty expensive for what appears to be a stop gap player for the Bears. And while we’re on the subject of stop gaps, this marks the 2nd time that Glennon has had to watch a team assure him they’ll give him a chance to start, only to watch them draft his replacement early in the 1st round.
Digging further, let’s talk about ol’ Mitchell himself. Chicago is essentially betting on a player who had a really solid year. As the Tarheels starter, Trubisky threw for 30 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions and broke tons of North Carolina records. That’s great! But as you watch his games, you start to notice some questionable decision-making. And I mean, I get it; college players can’t all be Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, who automatically translate to the pro game. But check out what Trubisky does up against a notably difficult team, Stanford, in the Sun Bowl. You’ll notice a few things. Here are a few highlights for you:
- Imperfect spirals caused by not setting the feet
- Overthrowing open receivers
- A fumble he seems pretty unaware of until it’s too late
- Two interceptions to the same player, who didn’t have to do much to pick off the ball
- A pick-six that gave Stanford the points needed to assure victory
- Inability to escape the blitz (or Soloman Thomas at all)
Granted, there were some downright cool things Mitch did. He came within 25 seconds of sending that game into overtime; however, there are some major red flags in a hugely important game. Considering how Stanford flat-out punished Trubisky, let’s think about some players in the division he’ll have to square off against. There is Ziggy Ansah, Clay Matthew, Harrison Smith, Nick Perry, and Anthony Barr. That’s not mentioning the defensive talent the Lions, Packers, and Vikings all added in their own drafts.
May we also consider the quality of pick Chicago surrendered in making this move? The real NFL Draft isn’t quite like the ones in Madden, where only your first- and maybe second-round picks matter as you shamelessly trade the rest away and pick up ammunition for the trade block portion of the game. Third- and fourth-rounders have produced gems of players and sleeper victories every single year. Chicago should know something about this since they selected their potential star running back Jordan Howard in the 5th round.
I’m not going to sit here and argue that the players selected in these positions will pan out better than Trubisky. With that said, when you look at what Chicago needs and who they could have gotten, the trade gets increasingly baffling. For instance, had they hung on to their third-round pick, they could have gotten Cal quarterback Davis Webb gift-wrapped to them. A rookie with a ton of potential who could actually benefit from sitting a few years while allowing Mike Glennon to have a real shot AND not giving up picks? Man.
It’s incredibly short-sighted to look at one bungled trade and declare the entire Bears draft a bust off the bat, right? Perhaps Chicago made some good moves?
In the second round, Chicago swapped picks with Arizona, which is all well and good since it grabs them a few extra picks they were sorely in need of. The Cardinals used the opportunity to get highly-promising safety Budda Baker into the Cards’ swiftly-depleting secondary. That was a great move for Arizona, but it could have been an equally great move for Chicago, as they were also in the safety market in a dire way. See, when you have to compete with deep ball experts like Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, and the guy who seems to nail every Hail Mary he throws, you’d think the secondary would be an area of interest in the early rounds of the draft.
Nope. Instead, Chicago went offense and selected TE Adam Shaheen. Now don’t get me wrong, Shaheen put up incredible numbers at Ashland. 26 touchdowns with 1,755 yards in ONE SEASON after joining the team as a walk on! But here we have that big red flag that you may recognize from the Trubisky pick: one season. Shaheen, in true tight end tradition, played basketball the majority of his college career before joining the football team. He played exactly one season and then declared for the draft. So Chicago gets yet another potentially promising offensive player with one year of experience under their belt while ignoring other high-priority defensive needs.
The Bears, having made 2 picks over 2 days, decide to come out of hibernation in the 4th round and make two selections. The first one shows them finally drafting towards a real need and taking cornerback-turned-safety Eddie Jackson from Alabama. Jackson, again, only has one full year as a starter under his belt, but that one year was sure something, as he came off a torn ACL and picked up 6 interceptions and a neat CFP National Championship Defensive MVP award.
But again: one year experience. And he has an injury history. High ceiling, low floor. Chicago makes another deal with the Cardinals to select a running back. Not only is it another offensive position they really didn’t need to address, but we’re talking about Tarik Cohen, a player who has three sentences written about him on his Wikipedia page and can apparently do this. Now, to the Bears credit, Cohen has actually started all 4 years as a college player and gained 1,000 yards every season on the ground. That’s impressive, but when you still have a treasure trove of linebackers to choose from, why get a player who probably won’t be getting the nod over Howard?
The Bears’ final pick came in the 5th round and they selected G Jordan Morgan, a Division II player who definitely adds some depth to the offensive line. However, Chicago, once again, ignores larger needs, even larger offensive needs. The Bears addressed QB, RB, TE, and G in this draft while ignoring the gaping hole left behind by Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver. Even worse, Chicago had chances to get better players at every position.
Now, the fates are tricky things. One never truly knows who will boom and who will bust. But over three days, as we saw each team’s logo presented over the words “Our Future Is Now” in an effort to instill hope and confidence for success, the Bears seemed to do everything in their power to make a mockery of the slogan. Seeming to tell their fans from the first 20 minutes of the draft that the future is going to look a lot like the present.