Part 2 of an 11-part series previewing the NFL Draft and analyzing the Bears’ needs.
Tyler Bray has thrown one pass in his NFL career. But when the Bears decided to re-sign their third-string quarterback last month, they got an ‘‘attaboy’’ from the man in the quarterback room that matters most: starter Mitch Trubisky.
Trubisky called coach Matt Nagy shortly after the signing was announced.
‘‘He was elated,’’ Nagy said last month.
Bray’s return means the Bears figure to have the same quarterbacks they did last season, with Trubisky starting, Chase Daniel backing him up and Bray, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, providing a veteran voice.
For a franchise determined to put Trubisky in the best position to succeed, that’s a good thing.
More than any other factor, Trubisky’s growth this season will be what determines whether the Bears can return to the playoffs — or go further than the first round.
After a 12-4 season in which Trubisky reached the Pro Bowl as an alternate, the Bears are pleased with the support system surrounding him.
‘‘That trust is huge,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Every day, learning how they watch tape together. When somebody says something, what’s it mean? It’s powerful.’’
When he arrived in Chicago four years ago, general manager Ryan Pace said he would like to add a young quarterback in every offseason, either through the draft or as undrafted free agent. He has drafted a quarterback exactly once: Trubisky.
With a low number of draft picks this month, Pace doesn’t figure to select someone to challenge Bray. The Bears conceivably could pick up an undrafted free agent for a test-drive during the offseason program.
Otherwise, the quarterback room is set. Daniel, who went 1-1 in two starts last season after Trubisky hurt his shoulder, is entering the final year of his contract. Pace, though, said he wants Daniel ‘‘to be a Bear for a long time.’’
Trubisky, who has been training with returning receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in California, knows how he can improve. The Bears want him to focus on fixing ‘‘off-schedule’’ throws — attempts that come when he’s off-balance or on the run.
‘‘We wanna hit those,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Don’t fool yourself: [Trubisky] is not the only quarterback that is missing those throws. That’s why he has the magnifying glass in our city — because it is him. But that goes on throughout the league.
‘‘To make him a superstar, we’ve gotta have him always be hitting those.’’
Trubisky spent last season learning Nagy’s offense. The Bears think now is the time for him to make the leap.
‘‘Initially, there’s just a lot on your plate mentally,’’ Pace said. ‘‘And I think now he’s at a point where he can just play.’’
Grading the Bears’ need: Low. After spending the last two offseasons shuffling their two-deep — they cut Jay Cutler, added Mitch Trubisky and did both to Mike Glennon — the Bears are bringing back their entire quarterback room.
On the roster: Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray.
The five best draftees: Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Duke’s Daniel Jones and N.C. State’s Ryan Finley.
Keep an eye on: Would the Cardinals dare take Murray first overall one year after taking Josh Rosen 10th? Only one team since the merger has drafted a first-round quarterback in back-to-back seasons, and that came with an asterisk. One year after taking Art Schlichter in the first round, the Colts drafted John Elway. He refused to play for them, and they eventually dealt him to the Broncos. Would the Cardinals take another quarterback? They just fired their head coach after one season, so anything’s possible.
Close to home: Clayton Thorson will become the third Northwestern quarterback drafted this decade — after the Wildcats had three selected between 1965 and 2009. Thorson threw for 61 touchdowns and ran for 27 more while starting a Big Ten-record 53 games in four seasons. ‘‘I’ve seen so much,’’ Thorson said at the NFL Scouting Combine. ‘‘I feel like I haven’t been surprised by anything these past couple of years.’’ He could be drafted late on Day 2 or early on Day 3.