2020 NFL Draft: Bears just spectators as other teams pick QBs of future

The first round of the all-virtual draft kicked off with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow going to the Bengals. The Bears did not have a first-round pick.

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Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and national championship, then went No. 1 in the draft.

AP Photos

It went fine.

That’s the most important thing anyone could’ve hoped to say about the NFL’s first all-virtual draft, and the league got through all 32 picks without any significant technological derailment.

With all coaches, general managers and scouts working from home like the rest of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, they did a good enough job navigating their videoconferencing apps to run the draft about as smoothly as it usually goes.

The Bears were spectators for the first round like the rest of us, enduring a second consecutive year without a pick on the opening night. They dealt their 2019 and ’20 first-rounders to the Raiders for Khalil Mack two years ago, and given the long odds of any draftee eventually rising to Mack’s level, general manager Ryan Pace probably remained content with that decision.

Their first selections will be second-rounders Friday at Nos. 43 and 50 overall. The Raiders used what would have been the Bears’ pick, No. 19, to take Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette.

As most of the rest of the NFL made moves to improve, though, the list of teams with shaky quarterback plans shrank. It’s getting lonely for the Bears in that club after the Bengals took LSU’s Joe Burrow at No. 1, the Dolphins grabbed Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa fifth, the Chargers chose Oregon’s Justin Herbert sixth and the Packers traded up to pick Utah State’s Jordan Love at No. 26.

Burrow burst into college football stardom as a senior at LSU and put together a dominant season of 60 touchdown passes, 5,671 yards and a 76.3 completion percentage. He led LSU to a 15-0 record, including a blowout of Clemson in the national title game.

Tagovailoa helped Alabama win the championship two years earlier, Herbert threw 95 career TD passes and Love’s skills have drawn comparisons to Patrick Mahomes.

The Bears, however, have no such promise and will proceed with a quarterback competition between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles.

There isn’t much they can do about that this year, now that the top four quarterbacks are off the board. Their pair of second-round picks falls in somewhat of a dead zone for quarterbacks, and they don’t choose again until the fifth round at No. 163. They also have two picks each in the sixth and seventh rounds.

If Pace doesn’t trade down out of the second, he’ll probably be eyeing tight ends, wide receivers, offensive linemen or cornerbacks Friday. He’ll also be eyeing the webcam fixed on him at all times, as required by the NFL.

The league’s choice to have a camera on all general managers and coaches throughout the draft, as well as one on commissioner Roger Goodell announcing picks from his basement, led to a few chuckles Thursday.

There were various NFL executives’ kids dancing and hamming it up in the background, Goodell fumbled a few awkward transitions when he wasn’t aware his mic was already live and Falcons coach Dan Quinn walked out of his shot when ABC cut to his camera before the 16th pick.

The network took a quick jab at the Bears in a promo for the Chicago-set sitcom ‘‘The Connors,’’ which featured a character saying the team is “only a couple pieces away from needing a couple pieces.”

Goodell also botched an announcement that the 2022 NFL Draft will be in Las Vegas, saying 2020 instead. This draft was supposed to be hosted on the Strip, and the city will get a redo in two years. It will be in Cleveland next year and in Kansas City in 2023.

The broadcast began with a video narrated by Peyton Manning that emphasized the work of doctors, nurses and other essential workers. It also featured an appearance by Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the lead doctor in the fight against the coronavirus.

Fauci explained that the work-from-home draft “really is for your good and the good of the country.’’

While it’s already a near-certainty that teams will be unable to hold organized team activities or minicamps, the NFL has given no indication it plans to delay or shorten its season, which would start in September. The regular-season schedule is set to be released in three weeks.

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