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.”
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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.
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.