Upon further review and in the light of day, some observations and perspectives on the Bears’ epic trade of multiple meaningful draft choices to move up one spot in the 2017 first round to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky….
…So much for expert analysis. Maybe the 2017 quarterback draft class wasn’t as bad as its advance reviews. Three quarterbacks went in the Top 12 picks, and all three teams selecting them (Bears, Kansas City, Houston) traded, not down, but up to grab their guys (Trubisky, Pat Mahomes, DeShaun Watson).
Meaning: Pace didn’t panic in making the jump; he’d gotten calls from those teams looking to deal up for a quarterback, so he didn’t get bamboozled by 49ers GM John Lynch. When Pace didn’t want to deal with the Browns, Chiefs or Texans, he rightly figured he wasn’t their last call, in fact probably was their first.
And the coaches involved the Chiefs’ and Texans’ know something about good quarterbacks. Andy Reid mentored Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb. Bill O’Brien followed Josh McDaniels as Tom Brady’s quarterbacks coach in New England, then was offensive coordinator before leaving to rebuild the Penn State program.
As a footnote, for as voluminous as the positives were on Watson (including those of this reporter), Reid thought Mahomes was better.
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…He doesn’t have a third-rounder this year, but what Pace does with the Bears’ second-round pick will worth serious watching, based on his history. His hit rate at that level is superb; Eddie Goldman in ’15, then trading down a couple times in ’16 and still landing Cody Whitehair, one of the top O-line nuggets from last year’s draft.
And Pace didn’t entirely gut his ’17 draft portfolio. As things stand at this moment, he still goes into Day 3 with a fourth-rounder – one of what he picked up last year in one of those trade-down’s in the second round on the way to Whitehair.
Pace’s tone and demeanor Thursday after Round 1 was noteworthy: He sounded anything but done being draft-aggressive: “There’s avenues, maybe we can acquire more picks, like we did last year. So you’re kind of weighing all that.”
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… No, the Bears didn’t overpay for moving from No. 3 to No. 2. A one-slot move inside the Top 10 is always pricey, and inside the Top 5 carries a huge premium. As I mentioned Thursday night, Cleveland gave Minnesota three later picks in the 2012 draft to switch places, the Browns going to No. 3 and the Vikings down one to No. 4. The picks (a four, a five, a seven) were less than the Bears paid (two threes, a four), but the Bears were going from 3 to 2, and it involved a quarterback, always a situation with a premium.
Also, and not intended as any slight of the players, but just using the results from Pace’s own draft history: The Bears traded Hroniss Grasu (third round, 2015), Jeremy Langford (fourth round, 2015) and Jonathan Bullard (third round, 2016) to improve their 2017 draft position and secure what they believe will be a franchise quarterback.
Picks in the 3-4 range can be huge hits: Olin Kreutz, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown. They can also be Juaquin Iglesias, Jarron Gilbert or Brock Vereen. Pace didn’t mortgage the future in a wild swing for a franchise QB by trading away, say, a No. 1 (Rick Mirer) or maybe two No. 1’s (Jay Cutler).
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…The Trubisky move doesn’t dislodge Mike Glennon from his berth as the starter, as long as Glennon is better than Trubisky. But for those hyperventilating with outrage over the signing of Mark Sanchez as a backup, the prospects for Sanchez just dimmed mightily if not all the way to black. Connor Shaw, who has a future, arguably has a better shot at a roster spot than Sanchez, who was insurance.
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…Were the Bears masking their real intentions with the mass migrations of staff to scout DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer and a couple other prospects? Don’t think so. There are less expensive and cumbersome ways to blow smoke and create misperceptions.
More likely, the closer they looked at the Kizers and Watsons, the more doubts they had and the more they liked what they’d seen with Trubisky. Pace personally scouted a handful of his games (a Tarheel buddy in North Carolina text’ed me early last fall and said, “Hey, just FYI: Your GM is here scouting our quarterback”), and the more he saw, the more he liked.
Apparently not so with the other guys.