CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position by position as the Bears approach the 2016 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft days and days after could have in store.
Bears pre-draft situation
Jay Cutler answered critics and doubters in the general population and, more importantly, inside Halas Hall with what could be considered something of a breakout year in his 10th season in the NFL. He took to the coaching of then-coordinator Adam Gase and position coach Dowell Loggains.
“We’re a production-based business,” head coach John Fox said at the outset of his Chicago tenure in a statement of philosophy that transcended position or player. “Like every position, how you practice usually leads to how you play and perform, and we’ll evaluate that at every position as we move forward.”
David Fales remains a prospect/project and no closer to being viewed as an emergency fill-in than he was going into last offseason with the Bears moving to re-sign Jimmy Clausen. (The latter did not work out and wound up in Baltimore with Marc Trestman where he was bad enough in two starts to be benched in favor of Ryan Mallett.)
At some point on draft weekend, the Bears need to make a move for a quarterback. Or two.
Bears draft priority: Moderate
The Bears were puzzled by some random buzz this offseason that they were looking to get rid of Cutler. Fox was clearly positive in comments this offseason, which he wasn’t last year, and Cutler at age 33 has prime years remaining in his arm and legs, particularly in view of his steps forward last season in ball security and overall intangibles. Additionally, the Bears have the heavy years in Cutler’s seven-year contract behind them; his next four years at $16 million, $17 million, $20 million and $21 million — including $2.5M annual roster bonuses based on weeks active — are cap-smart, even a little low vis-a-vis rises in the salary cap and Cutler’s performance.
Meaning: The Bears’ need at starting quarterback is not dire such as it is for teams like Denver, Cleveland and Los Angeles.
But Ryan Pace said last year at the NFL owners meetings that he ideally would be in position to take a QB prospect every draft: “You can take a swing every year at it and increase your odds." Pace did not select a young arm in the 2015 draft but had previously re-signed Clausen and proceeded to add Shane Carden as an undrafted free agent, followed by pickups of Patrick Devlin and Zac Dysert.
None of those developed into serviceable depth, let alone an eventual Cutler successor. The lesson to Pace is that he will indeed need to use his draft board to locate a higher-grade developmental quarterback and choose him rather than waiting for post-draft leftovers, possibly packaging picks to move up for a surprise prospect that slips within reach.
Look for the Bears to move on a quarterback as early as Round 2 but more probably somewhere in Rounds 3 through 5.
Keep an eye on ...
Brandon Allen, Arkansas: Not a premium talent but a developmental QB ideal for a late-round pick or as an undrafted free agent signing.
Jacoby Brisset, North Carolina State: Mid-round prospect had a 43-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio the last two seasons. A good mobile quarterback who completed 60 percent of his passes.
Connor Cook, Michigan State: Wild card. Will he go in Round 1? Or will he fall to Day 2, where the Bears pick 10th? The Bears held a private workout with Cook.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford: Forty six starts in a pro-style offense in college with a 66-percent completion rate. Might require using second-round pick to grab him.
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: Good intangibles. Very accurate with a 56-to-16 touchdown-to-interception ratio while starting all 26 games for Mississippi State in 2014 and 2015.