Bears

Mullin: A draft run on QBs? The Bears hope so

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Mullin: A draft run on QBs? The Bears hope so

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 8:57 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Questions may persist in some quarters about Jay Cutlers knee injury but not about the Bears quarterback situation. Theyre set at the top, even if coordinator Mike Martz isnt exactly sold on Caleb Hanie.

The Bears invested heavy draft capital in the trade for Cutler and because they did, they are potentially in a position to watch from a comfortable vantage point an interesting scramble for quarterbacks that a number of analysts see forming with the 2011 draft.

For some months the debate over whether Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton was the better of the top two quarterbacks, and they were the consensus only two expected to go in the first round.

Now the projected number of quarterbacks going in the first round is up to four and even six.

I think theres panic among teams that are looking for a quarterback, said NFL Networks Mike Mayock.

The Bears sit at No. 29 and couldnt be happier if that many teams are chasing quarterbacks.

It means that trade discussions may be more lucrative as with teams willing to spend more to move up into the first round to address the franchise position. It also means another cluster of players that teams take before No. 29, leaving more of the players that the Bears hoped would be within their reach.

The fastest-rising quarterback this week has been Jake Locker from Washington, considered by some to have been the potential No. 1 overall pick of last years draft but for his decision to honor his word to stay in school. For teams looking at character, that makes a good impression.

He said he was coming back for his senior year, said former coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden. He said he wanted to take Washington to a bowl game, and I admire that about him. He could have walked away from the Husky program and potentially been the number one pick a year ago according to a lot of analysts. But he wanted to do what he said he was going to do, and that is a trait that I really admire.

Pro Football Weeklys Nolan Nawrocki, who sees Locker going No. 12 to the Minnesota Vikings, projects the Seattle Seahawks taking TCU quarterback Andy Dalton at No. 25. Nolan also likes the Miami Dolphins looking past maturity concerns and taking Ryan Mallett of Arkansas at No. 15.

The Bears have 28 slots ahead of them. Nolans projection would take care of five. Lets put lines through defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Nick Fairley as being likely top-10ers, along with linebacker Von Miller, cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara, and wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones. The Bears wouldnt be taking a wideout in the first round, nor a linebacker, and those two cornerbacks wont last past No. 15.

Thats 12 of the 28 down. Figure USC tackle Tyron Smith to Dallas at No. 9, where most draft projections place him, and lets say three other offensive linemen from the group that includes Anthony Castonzo, Mike Pouncey, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Nate Solder.

Now were up to 15, probably more, and thats not folding in defensive ends like DaQuan Bowers, Robert Quinn and Adrian Clayborn. Take those three off the board and were at roughly No. 18.

The Bears rarely trade up (just once under GM Jerry Angelo and that in a later round) so they need chunks of players to go at positions not on their must-have list. Offensive line is one of those positions but even taking off a few still leaves a starter-grade talent or three for them.

All of which gets exponentially more interesting with the possibility of as many as six quarterbacks going in the first round. Notably here, the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints all got some private time with Dalton. All are set right now but with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning deep into their careers, adding those teams to any quarterback discussion works to the Bears favor, particularly since two of the three are in the other conference.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

Even in a controlled gameplan, Mitchell Trubisky's playmaking ability shines through

While the Bears praised Mitchell Trubisky’s operation of a controlled gameplan in his second NFL start, they’re not losing sight of the special kind of athleticism and playmaking ability the rookie quarterback possesses. Two plays in particular stand out — plays that led to anywhere from a five-to-10 point swing in the game. 

Trubisky’s 18-yard third down completion to Kendall Wright in overtime seems to looks better every time you watch it on film. Trubisky was pressured by two Baltimore Ravens pass rushers, but managed to wriggle free and slide to his right, only to find linebacker C.J. Mosley waiting in front of him. The blend of athleticism and aggressiveness Trubisky displayed in firing high over the middle toward Wright — who made a specular play of his own — is one of the many reasons why the Bears are so excited about him. 

“To be able to throw that ball with both hands in the air and changing your arm angle – that’s why you draft a kid second,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “Because of things like that.”

But there was another instinctual, athletic play Trubisky made that was just as impressive, and just as important. Cody Whitehair’s snapping issues cropped up at the Bears’ 13-yard line, with the center sailing a snap over Trubisky’s head and toward the end zone. 

If Baltimore recovered that ball, it would’ve tied the game; had Trubisky simply fell on the ball, it very well could’ve led to a safety that would’ve brought the Ravens within five points about a minute after the Bears took a 17-3 lead. Instead, Trubisky picked up the ball, scrambled to his right and threw the ball away — one of six throwaways he had on Sunday. 

“(That) was a critical, critical play at that time,” Loggains said. 

This isn't to say that two plays — only one of which gained yards — are enough to say the Bears' offense is in a good place. It's still a group that necessitates a controlled gameplan, similar to the one they used with Mike Glennon. But the difference: Trubisky can make plays. 

Briefly, on Whitehair

Since we’re on the subject of another poor snap by Whitehair, here’s what Loggains had to say on that topic: 

“He’s gotten better. We still had one too many. The thing and point I want to make with Cody Whitehair is, obviously wants to talk about the snap, but you’re talking about two weeks in a row of completely dominating. We’re an outside zone team that ran 25 snaps of inside zone because of what they were playing. It changed our game plan and Cody’s a big part of that. The last two weeks we’ve been able to move those guys inside. He’s a really good football player. 

“We’re going to battle through these snap issues. We’re cutting them down. He’s more accurate. He did have the one that obviously is unacceptable and no one owns that more than Cody Whitehair does. But he is a really good football player and let’s not lose sight of the 79 snaps where he really helped the team run the football and you can’t do that without a Cody Whitehair at center.”

Loggains has a point here — if Whitehair were struggling in the run game, against the defensive looks the Ravens were showing, the Bears wouldn’t have been able to run the ball 50 times with the kind of success they had. But the poor snaps nonetheless are ugly and have to be eliminated — imagine the uproar over them if Trubisky didn’t make that play in Baltimore. The Bears' offense won't always be good enough to overcome those kind of self-inflicted mistakes. 

Loggains and coach John Fox have praised Whitehair’s attention to the problem, and as long as Hroniss Grasu is still limited with a hand injury, Whitehair will have some time to work through these issues. One final thought: Who would’ve expected, back in May, that Whitehair would have the problems with snaps, and not Trubisky? 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: What are Bears' chances against Panthers?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Laurence Holmes (670 The Score) and Phil Rogers (MLB.com) join Kap on the panel.

The crew discusses Bobby Portis’ suspension, Edzo’s return to the booth and the Bears' chances against the Panthers. 

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: