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The Facts About the 2017 QB Rankings

Believe it or not, finding a franchise quarterback isn’t a science, and the truth is, the 2017 QB rankings have not played out as they seemed they would.

Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Bears just lost to the Lions and the fan base is in full melt down mode. If you gave your average Bears fan a 24-hour, Freaky Friday type situation with George McCaskey, the Bears wouldn’t have enough players/coaches to take the field against the Texans on Sunday. The team would be sold and a new dome stadium would be built in Arlington Heights. This is the usual reaction when things start heading south with the beloved Chicago Bears, but this time it’s a little different.

Matt Nagy, Khalil Mack, and the 2018 Bears gave the fan base a different kind of hope. Bears Nation has seen countless GM’s, coaches, and quarterbacks come and go, and it finally felt like they got it right. Ryan Pace’s five-year plan was panning out in four, Matt Nagy was a guru, and Mitchell Trubisky was the only element that was still in question after 2018. He was trending in a better direction, but the consensus was, the Bears can’t have Super Bowl aspirations unless Trubisky takes the next step.

Photo: Armando Sanchez/Twitter

As we know, that step up never happened and it caused a clear divide between Truthers and Nagy Stans (Anti-Truthers). As Patrick Mahomes exploded onto the scene, the anti-Pace faction formed and has been thriving ever since. Every time the Bears put forth an embarrassing effort, a new finger pointing faction forms. These factions have been joining forces and right now Bears twitter looks like Captain America: Civil war. It’s honestly hard to keep track of, but I’ll try to give a short summary of the war.

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Truthers and Ryan Pace Friendlies had to join forces and have been taking a beating since 2019, but they’ve gotten a little redemption after the Nick Foles experiment. That’s not to say Mitchell Trubisky is a good quarterback, it’s just egregiously evident the offense functions better with Trubisky running point. As Truthers watch the Matt Nagy led Bears unravel they can’t help but think, “Did Matt Nagy ruin Mitchell Trubisky’s career as a Bear?” This has lead to takes speculating that Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t be anything special on the Bears. While I think that’s taking it too far, there is some validity in the idea behind it.

Side note: most of the Truthers have turned on the Pace Friendlies. The logic is, you either drafted a quarterback that can’t play or hired a coach that wasn’t fit to develop him. Most roads lead back to hating Ryan Pace. Pace Friendlies are currently stumbling like Nate Robinson after the first knock down in his boxing debut.

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Obviously with a spicy header like that, it may trigger some warm responses. Sometimes I like to wake the sleeping beasts I call Anti-Truthers. Any time you see a take about Nagy failing to develop Mitchell Trubisky, or saying Patrick Mahomes wouldn’t being as good on the Bears, you will see a take saying Patrick Mahomes was the better prospect. This is pretty comical and I thought we put this argument to bed in 2019. Patrick Mahomes was seen as a high ceiling project and the Bears missed on Deshaun Watson. This is not an opinion, it’s just the facts.

The chart below includes draft prospect rankings for Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes, and the sources who ranked them.

As you can see, these aren’t random “Bears Blogger,” draft prospect rankings. Mike Mayock, ESPN, PFF, Matt Miller, and SB Nation all had Mitchell Trubisky ranked above Patrick Mahomes. Sports Illustrated was the only major network that had Patrick Mahomes ranked higher than Mitchell Trubisky and it was by the slimmest of margins. It’s also notable that SI only had Mahomes (38) two spots higher than Trubisky (40). When it was all said and done, none of these prospects cracked the top ten on any draft board. This is a common occurrence. Most first round quarterbacks are reaches in terms of their pre-draft rankings, but the position’s significance shoots them up the draft board. The most pro-ready quarterback was Deshaun Watson and that was reflected in the pre-draft rankings. The quarterback with the next highest draft ranking was Mitchell Trubisky, but the real question is why?

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Mitchell Trubisky had a limited sample size in college which allowed a less accurate growth projection. Trubisky was seen as a project with high upside, like Mahomes, but with less bad habits to eliminate. Don’t get me wrong, Patrick Mahomes lit it up at Texas Tech, but think about what’s changed since he’s entered the league. 20 years ago, if you saw a quarterback rolling left and attempting to throw the ball past the right hash, he’d get left on the tarmac. This is something you see Patrick Mahomes do successfully every single week. It’s not like Patrick Mahomes is the first semi-mobile QB that’s willing to push his luck and throw side arm. Russell Wilson is the most relevant/recent example, but this has been brewing for decades.

Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

Pass rushers are getting to the quarterback more efficiently and college quarterbacks have their coaches reading the defense for them. Pro-style quarterbacks are on the endangered species list. Pocket manipulation isn’t as effective as it used to be and you need a quarterback that can get out of trouble, but uses his arm before his legs.

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We have seen forward thinking organizations try to find this player for years and come up short a majority of the time. It’s easy to find a quarterback with a couple of those traits coming out of college, but anyone with all of them is a consensus #1 pick. This wasn’t the case with Patrick Mahomes. Andy Reid took an elusive gunslinger and gave him a pro-style frame of mind. They formed the perfect marriage and birthed the new NFL prototype. Ten teams wouldn’t miss that prospect in the draft, not when they’ve been searching this long.

Would Patrick Mahomes be the same quarterback if the Bears drafted him? Absolutely not. Would Patrick Mahomes have been more successful in Chicago than Mitchell Trubisky? Most likely. The reality is, no one will ever get the opportunity to know for sure, but we do know Patrick Mahomes is glad he’s a Chief. People tend to forget that Deshone Kizer was ranked higher than Mahomes on most draft boards. Remember when everyone thought that the Chiefs were crazy for trading Alex Smith and questioning whether the Chiefs offense would regress? Hindsight is always 20/20.


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Host and lead contributor for Bears OnTap. If you cut me open, you'll see orange and blue flowing out of my veins. I live for Chicago Sports, but I'd trade 1 Super Bowl for ten championships in any other sport. Daaaa Bears!!

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