There might have been some raised eyebrows and snickers around the NFL when Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded four draft picks to move up one spot and acquire North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. But one Hall of Fame general manager admired the guts it took to make the deal and he was the guy who once traded a first-round pick for an unknown third-string quarterback drafted in the second round the previous year.
“I admire anyone with the gumption to [do that],” said former Packers GM Ron Wolf, who traded a first-round pick to the Falcons for Brett Favre in 1992. “If you have the conviction, which they obviously do, that this is their savior . . . you go and get him. It takes intestinal fortitude and he displayed that. He has a belief in the player. And not only Pace, but the other people must be in line with that, too. If that’s your guy, you go do it.
“You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. They thought enough of [Trubisky] and got him. Lord knows they needed a quarterback, so they got one.”
The Bears paid a heavy price for Trubisky, but that’s what you do if you believe in the player. When Wolf negotiated for Favre, he started with a third-round pick, then went up to a second-rounder and quickly agreed when the Falcons asked for a first-round pick.
“I thought [Favre] was the best player in the 1991 draft — no question about that,” Wolf said. “For me to have an opportunity the next year to get that player, I had to do it. So I did it and it worked out.”
It’s highly unlikely that Mike Glennon’s disappointment is going to have an impact. A quarterback with 18 mostly mediocre starts in three seasons who just signed a contract with most of the guaranteed money in the first year had to know there was a chance the Bears could parlay the No. 3 overall pick into a quarterback of the future.
The Bears, in fact, have gone out of their way to insist that Glennon will be the starter in 2017 — not even allowing for the possibility that a rookie could compete for the job, let alone take it. After the recent surprise ascensions of mid-round picks Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott to Week 1 rookie starters over players who were either established or recognized as the No. 1 guy, that’s a pretty good endorsement.
For what it’s worth, Glennon’s response when he was asked about the Bears drafting a quarterback:
“I don’t even know what the options are right now,” he said March 10 at his introductory news conference. “All I can do is control what I can control. I heard Ryan say I’m the starting quarterback, and I’m going to work with all the guys to be the best player I can be.”
From the You Never Know Department: Drafting Trubisky could give the Bears a valuable chip that could lure Jim Harbaugh back to the NFL. Harbaugh, who historically has a short shelf life as a head coach — three years at San Diego, four at Stanford, four with the 49ers — is in his third year at Michigan.
Give the Bears another year or two to grow and the timing could be perfect for Harbaugh — who has a knack for developing young quarterbacks — to reconnect with Vic Fangio, mold Trubisky in his image and lead the Bears on a resurgent four-year playoff run before heading back to the college game when his tumultuous Bears tenure has run its course.
Coach John Fox referencing his good friend Jeff Fisher’s handling of No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff was more ominous than reassuring. The Goff experience is a good example of how coaches can’t win in that situation. Fisher, who was adamant that Goff was not ready to play, was criticized for not turning to Goff as the Rams struggled under Case Keenum. Fisher finally relented after nine games, but Goff, while not totally overwhelmed, was not very good. After Goff lost his first four starts, Fisher was fired with three games remaining in the season.
Goff ended up with a 63.6 passer rating (five touchdowns, seven interceptions) in seven starts, including a 54.9 rating in his final five games. The Rams went 0-7 in Goff’s starts to finish 4-12.
The Bears, perhaps trying to avoid a Goff scenario, seem resolute that Trubisky does not play in 2017 regardless of the circumstances. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bears can stay true to that plan. Since the merger, only one of 41 quarterbacks chosen among the top three picks of the draft has not started at least one game as a rookie — the Bengals’ Carson Palmer, who sat behind Jon Kitna in 2003.
The price of victory? As it turned out, the Bears’ 26-6 win over the 49ers on Dec. 4 at Soldier Field proved costly. The Bears (3-13) finished one game behind the 49ers (2-14) in the draft order, forcing them to trade a third-round pick (67th overall) and a fourth-round pick (111th) in this year’s draft, plus a third-round pick in 2018, to move up one spot to take Trubisky.
Though Trubisky will be in the spotlight whether he plays or not, tight end Adam Shaheen of Division II Ashland might be the most intriguing pick. The Bears took Shaheen with the 45th overall pick, higher than his ranking by most pundits: Mel Kiper (72nd), Nolan Nawrocki (124th), CBS Sports (51st) and ESPN.com (58th).
“I don’t think it’s a big roll of the dice,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “I’ve been a big fan of his, studied his tape. I remember a scout texting me, ‘You’ve got to watch this guy. He’s the real deal. This guy can play.’ I said, ‘Really? Ashland? An underclassmen tight end from Ashland who played basketball at Pitt-Johnstown?’ And then I started to watch the tape and it was very obvious. It didn’t take long.
“Now the level of competition, I get it. It was very clear that he was just kind of manhandling some guys. But he [is] 278 pounds; he has good speed, very athletic. Very good hands. Does a great job on contested throws. Can run after the catch. I think he’s got a chance to be an impact starter. For 278 [pounds], you’d think he’d be a great blocker. He’s a work-in-progress in that area, but certainly has the size and will develop some of the strength to continue to improve at that area.”
Shaheen was drafted earlier than any Division II player since North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins was taken 39th overall by the Rams and Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu was taken 40th in 2012. The Bears took Abilene Christian safety Danieal Manning 42nd overall in 2006.
But Jenkins (Florida), Silatolu (Nevada) and Manning (Nebraska) all were signed by Division I schools. The last player with a purely D-II football background to go higher than 45th was Tusculum cornerback/kick returner Ricardo Colclough, who went 38th to the Steelers in 2004.
Speaking of intriguing picks, there is a definite buzz about 5-6 running back Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T, whom the Bears took in the fourth round (119th overall).
“I think the fun player to watch is going to be Cohen,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who had Cohen ranked 127th. “I liked him all along. The kid is a dynamic running back. He can catch it. He can return kicks. He doesn’t go down easy. He’s not one of those guys you have to worry about — that was college, this is the NFL. He’s 5-6½ and that doesn’t mean he’s short. He’s not small. And he runs with a real determination. I like that pick.”
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