Bears

Bears QB Draft Preview: Beyond Jay Cutler...?

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Bears QB Draft Preview: Beyond Jay Cutler...?

CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position by position as the Bears approach the 2015 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store.

Bears pre-draft situation

Whether Jay Cutler is the franchise quarterback answer beyond 2015 is a matter for another time, presumably after offensive coordinator Adam Gase has an extended period of time with him. As in into the 2015 season.

Cutler could still exit Chicago in a trade. But the Bears weren’t actively shopping him and there were not serious queries relative to trading for him. The Bears did extensive checking with Cutler’s former coaches and were satisfied enough to put themselves on the hook for $15.5 million guaranteed this season and $10 million next.

Cutler has the highest career passer rating in franchise history, but consider that irrelevant. Coach John Fox has fashioned winning teams around better and worse, and after nine NFL seasons, the Cutler questions no longer involve vague allusions to “potential” or “talent.”

[SHOP: Get a Jay Cutler jersey here]

The real unknown is Jimmy Clausen, who stepped in when Cutler played himself onto the bench last season after 14 weeks. Clausen had a dismal rookie season with Fox in 2010 that cost both their jobs in Carolina.

Clausen did not win his one comeback start last season, but he played creditably against one of the elite NFL defenses (Detroit) after four years of no-play and coming in with a short practice week after the Monday night loss to New Orleans, further shortened by Marc Trestman cancelling the Wednesday practice before the Detroit game.

Fox, Gase and general manager Ryan Pace thought enough of Clausen to re-sign him while at the same time issuing zero ironclad statements about Cutler’s status as the starter.

“We’re a production-based business,” Fox said last month. “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.

Bears draft priority: low

The Bears had both Marcus Mariota from Oregon and Florida State’s Jameis Winston in for visits. No real expectation exists that the Bears would take either with their No. 7 pick, nor sacrifice picks to trade up for one.

“At ‘7’ I think it’s highly unlikely one of the two quarterbacks is there,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay via conference call.” And I don’t hear serious rumblings about them looking to move up for one of those two.”

Pace echoed a common GM refrain that he ideally would like to select or pick up a quarterback prospect every year. “You can take a swing every year at it and increase your odds," Pace said at the NFL owners meetings in March.

[MORE: Bears CB Draft Preview: Competition coming for Tim Jennings]

That said, the Saints didn’t do that while Pace was with New Orleans, but then again, that was a team with Drew Brees in place for most of the past decade.

The 2015 draft class is considered quarterback-lite, with only Mariota and Winston widely graded as first-rounders. History says that one from among Garrett Grayson (Colorado State), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Bryce Petty (Baylor), Sean Mannion (Oregon State) and a handful of others will emerge as a winning NFL quarterback. There are enough Joe Montanas, Tom Bradys and other success stories to make a pick from a seemingly pedestrian group more than a little intriguing.

Keep an eye on...

Shane Carden, East Carolina: Huge production, particularly high completion percentage, 86 TD passes vs. 30 INT’s.

Brandon Bridge, South Alabama: Excellent size (6-4, 225) and athleticism (4.72 sec. “40”) for a late-round pick.

Bo Wallace, Mississippi: MVP of two bowl games, 63 percent completion rate in SEC.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

These four Bears will be featured on 'Meet the Rookies' series

The Chicago Bears will kick off the fourth season of "Meet the Rookies" on June 25, a series that profiles four of the team's 2018 draft picks for a behind-the-scenes look at their journey to the NFL.

The four-episode series will air on ChicagoBears.com at 7:00 p.m from June 25 - 28 and will feature one rookie per night. 

Monday's episode will cover the Bears' first-round pick, Roquan Smith. Selected with the eighth-overall pick, Smith is expected to become an instant-impact player on defense. He's expected to make an impact off the field, too, as a high-character leader. Smith's linebacker-mate Joel Iyiegbuniwe is the focus of Tuesday's episode, with Anthony Miller (Wednesday) and James Daniels (Thursday) rounding out Season 4.

For a deeper dive into what's in store in "Meet the Rookies," check out this description.