Five years ago last month, Bears general manager Ryan Pace called it “a good idea” to bring in a new -quarterback every draft season, -either by selecting him or signing a college free agent.
But by the end of the draft on Saturday, here are the totals: In 42 rounds, Pace has drafted exactly one quarterback — Mitch Trubisky in 2017.
Trubisky’s struggles last season forced the Bears to give up a fourth-round pick and at least $24 million for Nick Foles. Pace again refused to say whether the Bears will pick up Trubisky’s fifth-year option, due May 4, which would pay him more than $24 million in 2021.
Pace made no apologies for finishing the draft without a quarterback.
“That’s how the board fell, but we do have confidence in our quarterbacks, for Mitch and Nick and Tyler Bray,” he said Saturday. “We have confidence in our quarterbacks, and we’re looking forward to that. But the board fell a certain way. We have to be disciplined with it.”
Pace likes to say the Bears take the best available player, but needs color their decisions. The team didn’t fill its most gaping holes in the draft — an in-line tight end, a starting-caliber cornerback and a speed receiver — by accident.
It’s hard to interpret Pace’s not drafting a quarterback — again — as anything but a sign he’s content with what he has.
Outside of Halas Hall, franchises aren’t afraid to draft a passer even when they have an entrenched starter. Which the Bears don’t have.
Since the Bears took Trubisky, every other team, save four, has drafted a quarterback. The Buccaneers and Rams took quarterbacks with the first overall picks in 2015 and 2016. The Falcons have 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. The fourth is the Raiders, the last franchise you want to end up on a list beside.
Twelve quarterbacks were selected this year — mostly backups. Utah State’s Jordan Love will play behind Aaron Rodgers and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts behind Carson Wentz. The Packers and Eagles make among the smartest decisions in the league.
Washington’s Jacob Eason, the first quarterback taken Saturday, probably will be the Colts’ third-stringer. The Jets took FIU’s James Morgan in Round 4, two years after taking Sam Darnold third overall.
Two years after picking Josh Allen seventh, the Bills drafted Georgia’s Jake Fromm, whose size and lack of arm strength belied that he was a college superstar, in Round 5. The Bears passed on Fromm twice Saturday.
Six weeks after giving Ryan Tannehill a four-year deal worth up to $118 million, the Titans took Hawaii’s Cole McDonald in Round 7. In the same round, quarterbacks were drafted to play behind the Saints’ Drew Brees, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott and the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins.
Pace didn’t buy a low-risk, long-shot lottery ticket.
“It just has to align for us,” he said. “Sometimes there are players we like at that position, and the board just doesn’t fall that way for us.
“That’s what happened this draft. We’re OK with it because we came away with seven players we’re really excited about.”