It is entirely possible that Mitchell Trubisky will become a good NFL quarterback. It’s entirely possible that he will become a very good NFL quarterback. He has the physical assets (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) of a good quarterback, the accuracy (68.0 completion percentage during his final season at North Carolina) of a good quarterback, the mobility (308 rushing yards in 2016) of a good quarterback, and the decision-making capabilities of a good quarterback. If Trubisky turns out to be a good NFL quarterback, the details of how he joined the Chicago Bears will one day be praised.
But until Trubisky becomes a Chicago legend, let’s focus on the Bears’ odd move to trade up for a risky player they probably could have gotten anyway.
The Bears traded the no. 3 pick, a third-round pick (no. 67), a fourth-round pick (no. 111), and a 2018 third-round pick to the 49ers in exchange for the right to move up a single spot. They did this in spite of the fact almost no one thought the 49ers were likely to draft Trubisky. The Sacramento Bee put together a list of San Francisco’s projected pick in 28 different mock drafts. Four had the team selecting Trubisky. The most common player the Niners were predicted to take was Stanford product Solomon Thomas — the player they ended up with at no. 3. It seems possible, if not likely, that the 49ers tricked the Bears into trading up and still got the player they wanted.
It’s important to keep in mind that if Chicago had stayed put and Trubisky was taken at no. 2, the Bears still wouldn’t have been in bad shape if they were set on selecting a quarterback. There was no consensus that Trubisky was better than Deshaun Watson (who went no. 12 overall to the Texans), and while Trubisky started for only one season at North Carolina, Watson was a college football god for multiple seasons at Clemson.
Add to this the fact the Bears just spent $18.5 million guaranteed on former Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon in free agency. The notion that the Bears now have Glennon and Trubisky isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it might be nice for Trubisky, a youngster with limited high-level starting experience, to hold a clipboard for a year. Glennon, who statistically has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of yards per attempt, probably isn’t the franchise’s long-term answer at the position.
Bears fans became incredibly frustrated with former passer Jay Cutler — for reasons spanning from his personality to his lack of winning — but there’s no denying that he was an average-to-above-average quarterback, statistically speaking, for many of his seasons with the team. Trubisky can be as good as Cutler. Trubisky can be better than Cutler. Yet that’s not a certainty, and something that could take years to happen. Even if it does, the Bears will need more than just Trubisky to succeed.
To land Trubisky — who they likely could have drafted without making this trade — the Bears gave up several opportunities to select pieces to improve a roster that finished 3–13 last season. Maybe they just got a franchise QB, maybe they got a little more time in noncontender purgatory.