Bears pass on Trubisky in ESPN's 2017 NFL re-draft


It was the trade that sent shockwaves through the 2017 NFL draft. You remember the one: Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace jumped one spot from third pick to No. 2 overall to make sure he landed his guy, QB Mitchell Trubisky.

Pace was blasted for the trade. He became the butt of all post-draft jokes. According to media members and fans, the San Francisco 49ers fleeced the Bears.

Now five games into the third season since the trade, the returns are somewhat incomplete. Trubisky's growth and development under Matt Nagy in 2018 has hit a wall early in 2019; maybe it's more accurate to say Trubisky's been hit by a wall of defenders because of how poorly the offensive line has played. And in a results-oriented league, the narrative around the Trubisky pick is beginning to tilt toward the negative.

Take ESPN's recent 2017 re-draft, for example. In this do-over, the Bears keep the No. 3 pick after QBs Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson go first and second overall. Chicago, with the third pick, snub Trubisky and instead select DE Myles Garrett.

Taking Garrett here would have left the Bears without a quarterback for 2017, as they had moved on from Jay Cutler. But it's fair to ask whether the circumstances are any different with Trubisky on the roster. Garrett's arrival would have made the Bears less likely to trade for Mack, too, which would have left them better equipped moving forward to draft a quarterback in 2018 or even 2019 if needed.

With the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to argue with this approach. But if the Bears ended up with Garrett from the 2017 draft, they never would've traded for Khalil Mack. And if they hadn't acquired Mack, would their defense be as dominant even with Garrett rushing the passer? Maybe. But Mack is a generational talent. Garrett, while certainly an elite pass-rusher, needs to add a little more to his resume before he can be described the same way.

It's also really easy to pile on Trubisky right now. He'll forever be compared to Mahomes and Watson, which is inherently unfair considering Mahomes had the luxury of learning behind Alex Smith while under the tutelage of Andy Reid and Matt Nagy during his rookie season. He also didn't have to suffer through a season with Kendall Wright as his go-to-guy. Watson, like Mahomes, has been gifted an all-world talent at wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller, when healthy, is no slouch.

Elite offensive coaches and top-tier talent at the skill positions will accelerate a quarterback's learning curve. Trubisky didn't have either of those assets in Year 1. As a result, he's at least a full season behind his classmates in his overall development.

It would be a lot fairer to Trubisky to run an exercise like this next year this time, when there will be no more excuses for the player Pace staked his reputation on.

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