You might be excited if Jacob Eason or Jake Fromm or Jordan Love or Jalen Hurts slip to the Bears with the 43rd or 50th pick in this year’s draft, allowing Ryan Pace the opportunity to draft someone who could finally be a long-term fix for Chicago's football bugaboo.
And you should be! The hope and intrigue of Fromm or Love or whoever showing up to Halas Hall with the backing of being a top-50 pick would be fun. The Bears have only picked one quarterback in Pace’s five drafts, that being Mitch Trubisky, who’s the reason why all anyone can talk about is what this quarterback-stricken team is going to do with the most important position in football.
But drafting a quarterback outside the first round does come with a serious “buyer beware” message: Don’t expect that guy to be an immediate solution.
Since the 2012 draft — the first under the current (and, likely, soon-to-be-former) CBA — taking a quarterback in the first round has been incentivized thanks to the availability the fifth-year option. It’s why teams like the Ravens and Vikings traded back into the first round to take Lamar Jackson and Teddy Bridgewater, respectively, with the 32nd overall pick: That extra year of team control afforded by the fifth-year option is incredibly valuable.
That means most teams legitimately in the market for a starting quarterback or quarterback of the future will do whatever they can to get that guy in the first round. If a quarterback is on the board at pick No. 33, there likely are significant questions about his potential.
Since 2012, 24 quarterbacks have been taken in the first round, while only six (six!) have been picked in the second round. Here’s how every quarterback picked in a draft since 2012 has fared, on average, in their rookie seasons, broken down by round:
First round (24): 11 starts, 214/358 (60%), 2454 yards, 6.9 Y/A, 13 TD/10 INT, 4-7 record, 80.9 passer rating
Second round (6): 9 starts, 162/284 (57%), 1737 yards, 6.1 Y/A, 9 TD, 10 INT, 3-7 record, 71.0 passer rating
Third round (11): 5 starts, 105/172 (61%), 1152 yards, 6.7 Y/A, 7 TD, 4 INT, 3-4 record, 84.7 passer rating
Fourth-seventh rounds (40): 2 starts, 32/54 (59%), 360 yards, 6.7 Y/A, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2-3 record, 76.2 passer rating
And a bonus:
Mitch Trubisky (2019): 15 starts, 326/516 (63.2%), 3,138 yards, 6.1 yards/attempt, 17 TDs, 10 INTs, 8-7 record, 83.0 passer rating
So on average, second-round quarterbacks have been worse their rookie years than Trubisky was in 2019.
Third-rounders look better thanks to Russell Wilson dragging those numbers up. Only two of those 40 Day 3 picks made much of a first-year impact (Dak Prescott and Gardner Minshew).
The Bears’ best long-term bet is to start drafting quarterbacks every year — the thing Pace said was a good idea, but hasn’t followed through on, way back in 2015. Drafting one in the second round this year could get them the next Derek Carr without actually having to trade for Derek Carr.
But if they do, hope and expectations may not sync up.