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If right QB is available in first round, Bears should take him

The Bears shouldn't shy away from taking a quarterback in the first round to eventually replace Jay Cutler. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Bears have lots of other draft needs besides quarterback. They went 6-10 last season, and Jay Cutler wasn’t the reason. They could use a pass rusher, a defensive back and an offensive tackle before they could use a quarterback.

And yet …

If a quarterback they really, really liked fell to the 11th pick overall, they’d be crazy not to take him.

Cutler’s defenders, who, at the first hint of a discouraging word, fall on him like Secret Service agents, surely don’t want to hear any talk of an eventual replacement. He is coming off his best season as a Bear, which, OK, isn’t saying a whole lot. But for a team that has gone a combined 11-21 the past two seasons, the goal is to build toward a better future, not to make Cutty presently happy.

Are North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff or Memphis’ Paxton Lynch the long-term answer? I don’t know. All I’ve seen of Wentz is what many of you have seen: highlights against lesser talent. But many experts project him to be the top quarterback taken in the draft.

He’s not the only unknown. So is Bears general manager Ryan Pace. We have no idea yet if he knows what he’s doing or if he knows what real talent looks like. But the Bears hired him for just this kind of potentially franchise-changing decision.

They can play it safe and go for an immediate need. But if there’s a quarterback waiting at No. 11, wouldn’t it be great if Pace turns out to be Bill Belichick eyeballing the University of Michigan’s Tom Brady?

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and probably in all of sports. Get a good one, and watch your fortunes soar. Get a mediocre one and, well, we’ve seen that movie too often in Chicago.

Now, if the Bears did take a quarterback in the first round, would you want Jay tutoring him next season? Hey, one raging debate at a time.