While it might be easy to overlook in the context of a 16-game season, a great deal of NFL success starts during the draft. In an ideal world, a combination of luck and good decision-making can help a team land a legitimate game-changer. The Chicago Bears found themselves in that position in 2017 but dropped the ball, drafting Mitchell Trubisky with the second-overall pick.
Although it’s not groundbreaking to call that decision a mistake, the Bears’ choice may have just gotten even more painful. In addition to Trubisky’s benching, new details have emerged about what happened behind the scenes leading up to the draft.
The Chicago Bears infamously drafted Mitchell Trubisky in 2017
At this point, there’s limited value in relitigating the 2017 NFL draft. With each passing week, though, the Chicago Bears’ decision to select Mitchell Trubisky looks worse and worse.
As we all know by now, there were three main quarterbacks available that spring. Deshaun had just wrapped up an impressive college career at Clemson; there were questions surrounding Patrick Mahomes’ fundamentals, but no one questioned his raw talent. Then, there was Mitchell Trubisky, who had only spent one full season as the University of North Carolina’s starter.
Picking Trubisky, however, wasn’t the entirety of the Bears’ bad decision-making. The club also traded four picks in order to move up from the third-overall spot to the second position.
Even if we put aside the other quarterbacks, Chicago passed on some legitimate talents to pick Trubisky. Jamal Adams went to the Jets in the sixth spot; Christian McCaffrey headed to Carolina two picks later. T.J. Watt fell to the end of the first round, while Dalvin Cook didn’t hear his name called until the 41st-overall pick. The Bears could have selected any one of those players.
Mitchell Trubisky has only gone downhill from there
Coming out of that infamous draft, it seemed like the Chicago Bears had played it safe by selecting Mitchell Trubisky; even if he didn’t have the raw talent of Mahomes or Watson, the quarterback seemed to have a pretty high floor. In the NFL, however, he hasn’t even lived up to that expectation.
While he showed some promise during the 2018 season, leading the Bears into the playoffs, Trubisky took a step back during the 2019 campaign. Chicago failed to pick up his fifth-year option heading into 2020 and, in Week 3, he lost the starting job to Nick Foles.
Although there’s no guarantee that Foles keeps hold of the gig, the writing does seem to be on the wall for Trubisky. Based on his status as a second-overall pick, he’ll probably get another chance in the NFL; based on the current situation, though, it’s safe to assume that it won’t be in Chicago.
The Chicago Bears decision during the 2017 NFL draft just became even more painful
It goes without saying that Mitchell Trubisky’s benching is an indictment of the Bears’ 2017 draft. Some new revelations, however, may make his selection even more painful for Chicago fans.
In a recent Bleacher Report feature, Kalyn Kahler explored that draft from the Chicago Bears perspective. She reported, among other details, that head coach Jim Fox wasn’t sold on selecting a quarterback, let alone Trubisky.
“Then-Bears head coach John Fox didn’t find out until the morning of the draft that Pace planned to draft a quarterback, and that that quarterback would be Trubisky,” Kahler wrote. “In an earlier meeting, sources said, he’d made clear to a group that included Pace, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone, that Watson was his choice among quarterbacks, followed by Mahomes and then Trubisky.”
According to another source, the coach didn’t even want a quarterback at all. “Headed into a win-or-get-fired third season as the head coach, Fox wanted the team to select LSU safety Jamal Adams, and most within the organization were under the impression Adams was going to be Pace’s pick.”
Adding further insult to injury, the Bears’ brass reportedly told Patrick Mahomes that he sat atop their quarterback board.
“League sources say that sometime in early March of that year, the Bears told Mahomes that he was their top quarterback in the class, and gave Mahomes the strong presumption they would take him,” Kahler explained. “The Bears’ interest in Mahomes was real, but the conversation with Mahomes that he was their top QB may have been a smokescreen to throw people off the scent of their actual top quarterback.”
At this point, it’s not exactly clear what did or did not happen in the draft room on that fateful day. One thing, however, is well established: the Chicago Bears didn’t make a great decision by picking Mitchell Trubisky.