If the 2017 NFL Draft was re-drafted today, you probably wouldn’t expect Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to go in the first round.
At least that’s the attitude I had as the NBC Sports Chicago team simulated a 2017 re-draft this week. And I kept that attitude until I had to make back-to-back picks for the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs at No. 26 and No. 27.
But after sending undrafted running back Austin Ekeler to the Seahawks, I realized… the best pick for the Chiefs was probably Trubisky.
See, in an extremely fictional world where NFL teams can get a do-over on a draft, trades are pretty much useless. With hindsight being 20/20, those teams know with certainty which players are good at the NFL level and which ones are not. For example, I had the San Francisco 49ers pick at No. 2 overall. With Patrick Mahomes obviously off the board to the Browns at No. 1, there was no way I was trading the No. 2 pick to Bears general manager Ryan Pace when Deshaun Watson was still available. Remember, the 49ers didn’t have Jimmy Garoppolo at the time.
Thus, the big losers appeared to be the Chiefs, who no longer could trade up to draft Mahomes at No. 10 and probably don’t go on to win Super Bowl LIV as a result.
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But a funny thing happened as the re-draft kept going. It got really hard. There weren’t 32 players worthy of going in the first round. And then I thought about the Chiefs’ situation back in 2017. They were committed to finding their next franchise quarterback, but they were also convinced that any of the quarterbacks available had to sit for a year behind Alex Smith. And even though we were re-drafting with the knowledge of Trubisky’s first three NFL seasons, I’ve always been of the mindset that Mahomes entered an extremely advantageous situation in Kansas City. He sat behind Alex Smith, not Mike Glennon. He had Andy Reid and Matt Nagy, not John Fox. He truly got to sit and soak in the same system that was eventually thrown at Trubisky a year later.
Plus, Trubisky isn’t as bad as he’s made out to be. He certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he also shouldn’t be the punching bag he’s become by many critics in Chicago and across the country. Trubisky is not a bust. Cade McNown was a bust. Trubisky puts in the work, is genuinely respected by his teammates and, despite the situation he entered into in Chicago, is still a backend starting quarterback in the NFL – one who is rightly being pushed for his job.
But what if Trubisky ended up in Kansas City? Any reasonable person would conclude he wouldn’t have become what Mahomes now is, but it’s also completely conceivable that Trubisky would be a more consistent quarterback had he entered a situation with more support, more time to develop and less pressure on him as a late first-round pick.
So Mitchell Trubisky to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 27 overall? Sure, sign me up.