Deshaun Watson

What would re-drafting the 2017 NFL Draft look like?

What would re-drafting the 2017 NFL Draft look like?

Three years later, it's clear some teams made mistakes in the 2017 NFL Draft. That's easy to say with hindsight, of course. The Browns probably wish they had Patrick Mahomes right now, and the Bears just had to trade for a quarterback to potentially replace Mitch Trubisky. 

So we here at NBC Sports Chicago wanted to re-run the 2017 draft knowing what we know now. Mahomes is a superstar. Over 100 picks wouldn't pass before George Kittle goes off the board. Alvin Kamara doesn't slip past every team multiple times. Eddie Jackson doesn't either. 

Here's how we did it. Each of our four Bears experts picked for two divisions. I took the NFC/AFC North, Adam Hoge had the NFC/AFC West, Cam Ellis picked for the NFC/AFC South and Bryan Perez went with the NFC/AFC East. We used the initial draft order, so the Bears still picked at No. 3 and the Chiefs and Texans were not able to trade up (though the Saints still picked at No. 32, having traded Brandin Cooks to the Patriots before the draft). 

There were a ton of far-reaching implications from this we'll get into later here on NBC Sports Chicago. For now...

Click here for the re-picked 2017 NFL Draft

Let's have the Bears trade for Deshaun Watson just for fun

USA Today

Let's have the Bears trade for Deshaun Watson just for fun

Bill O'Brien is ON ONE: 

What is that? Honestly what is that. This trade belongs in Draft Day, staring Kevin Costner. This trade garners like two dozen angry posts on the fantasy football homepage before the commissioner blocks it. Madden denies this trade and politely asks you if you're on the right difficulty settings. 

So could the Bears go and get DeShaun Watson, closing the time loop and completing their destiny? Here's what it would take: 

1. A draft pick. Which draft pick? Any draft pick! DeAndre Hopkins went for a second and a fourth (and running back David Johnson) – that's got Ryan Pace all over it! Did you know he only drafts All-Pro guys in the fourth round?! The value almost speaks for itself. 

2. They could just ask nicely?

3. Trubisky for Watson straight up. Make fun of me all you want, but there was a real chunk of time when people thought this was a straight up Hopkins-David Johnson trade. Don't put anything past Billy O'Brien. 

4. The Bears to take on JJ Watt's contract, too. 

5. No one would be allowed to boo the Astros when they come through town. 

Bears land Deshaun Watson in 2017 NFL re-draft

Bears land Deshaun Watson in 2017 NFL re-draft

If Bears fans were granted one wish to change the fortunes of the franchise, it would probably be to go back to the 2017 NFL draft and select quarterback Patrick Mahomes instead of Mitch Trubisky. Unfortunately, the other 30 teams who didn't end that year's draft with Mahomes would likely do the same thing, including the Cleveland Browns at No. 1 overall (they took Myles Garrett). As a result, the Bears realistically wouldn't have that chance, even in this unrealistic exercise.

With that in mind, Pro Football Focus conducted a 2017 re-draft and sent the Bears the next-best quarterback in the class, Deshaun Watson.

Watson isn’t perfect. He still tries to play hero ball too often and forces unnecessary pressure on himself because of it, but he has shown that he can be a borderline MVP candidate when he’s on his game, as he was earlier this season before finishing the season as the eighth-highest graded quarterback (82.4 overall grade). Those quarterbacks aren’t a dime a dozen, so the Bears trade up again in the hopes of securing theirs. This time they make the right decision.

Of the big three quarterbacks, Trubisky was the only one who didn't get picked in this first-round re-draft scenario.

Trubisky's career through three seasons hasn't been anything near Mahomes or Watson's. Mahomes has a league MVP and Super Bowl MVP on his resume, while Watson's name is on the annual shortlist for the league's best player. Trubisky, meanwhile, could lose his starting job to an aging free-agent veteran this offseason. So, yeah, he doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the first round in any re-draft, and there's a good chance he never will.

The narrative around Trubisky has gone from bad to downright brutal since the end of the regular season. The Bears are one of the first teams mentioned among clubs that could (and should) be in the free-agent quarterback market; it's assumed that with one of those veterans under center, Chicago can make a legitimate push for the Super Bowl.

If we deconstruct that a bit, it means Trubisky is the reason why they didn't make that run this year.

There's still a large contingent of Bears fans who support Trubisky and blame the play-calling and offensive line for his struggles in 2019. Those points have merit, but the impact on Trubisky's overall evaluation is minimal. When a quarterback consistently misses routine throws and is challenged by his coach to learn how to read defenses this offseason, it's usually the quarterback who's the problem. Not his supporting cast.

Even Trubisky's 2018 season, one in which he seemed to set the stage for a breakout year in 2019, was deemed an outlier by PFF. It was the product of luck more than skill, according to the analytics. It's a conclusion that's hard to argue with.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there's nothing the Bears can do about their epic fail in the 2017 draft. It's time to move forward, add a legitimate starting quarterback to the depth chart this offseason, and challenge Trubisky to prove he was the right pick after all. 

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