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What is Mitchell Trubisky’s ceiling?

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In this four-part round-table discussion, several of us weigh in on the Chicago Bears quarterback while discussing where he is now, how his development is going, and where we think he’ll end up.

NFL Pro Bowl Practice Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

We’ve sparked plenty of healthy debate the last couple days with our round-table discussions about Chicago Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and we still have two more of our four-part series to go. We got some grief from some of you guys when we called Trubisky an average QB so far, and had a lot of back and forth about the development we’ve seen from him, so today we’re going to project where he could end up.

Talking ceilings and floors is scout-speak for what is the best possible outcome for a player vs. the worst possible outcome. With Trubisky, I think we got a glimpse of his floor already. He’s a capable football player that can be successful playing within a system. But for his ceiling I think we have to consider who he’ll be working with for the next several seasons. If he’s able to stick with his current offense, I think Trubisky can become a perennial Pro Bowl contender.

I’m not saying he’ll be named to the team every year, but rather he’ll have the numbers to be considered year in and year out. I haven’t seen enough to put him in the Brees, Rodgers, or Brady category, but like I’ve mentioned several times, there are only so many “elite” quarterbacks playing at any given time in the league. If Trubisky and Matt Nagy continue their partnership, Trubisky will end up with multiple Pro Bowls on his resume.

Now let’s check in on a few of our other writers to see where they believe Trubisky’s ceiling is.

Robert Zeglinski - Quarterback ceilings are amongst the most contentious and subjective topics of conversation in sports. Discuss a passer’s merits in the slightest of pessimistic terms, and you’re an irredeemable cynic. You’re a football Grinch and your heart isn’t growing three sizes anytime soon. Break a quarterback down with nothing but sunshine and rainbows laced in your analysis, and the characterizations of an identity as a Pollyanna won’t cease. The main difference is that you’re not an 11-year-old orphan trying to make the best of an unfortunate broken home situation. It’s just football. It isn’t that serious. It never was.

As with most aspects of life, it’s not black and white. There’s a muddled grey area. That’s where Trubisky’s eventual pro ceiling lies. Remember: only Siths deal in absolutes.

I don’t believe Trubisky will be a generational talent. I think his name will look awkwardly out of place in sentences with guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and in the future, Pat Mahomes. (His name sure looked awkward in the process of writing that sentence.) One has to be irretrievably special to earn such a respected designation. But I do envision him becoming a top 10 quarterback apt to sporadic MVP-level production. When he’s playing on a great team, like this year’s Bears, and maximizing his support, he’ll earn deserved praise. When he experiences intermittent valleys of play, he’ll be shuffled around like most quarterbacks in the 7-12 range. It won’t pay to be reactionary in regards to talking about a quarterback while he resides in the reality he belongs in.

Nothing more. Nothing less. Never to one extreme on one end of the spectrum, the way many desire.

Erik Duerrwaechter - As I’ve mentioned a couple times, I believe his ceiling is becoming a top ten quarterback in the NFL. He has all the raw talent, aggressiveness, and toughness to become such a player. He just needs to put his whole game together and dominate for extended periods of time.

Josh Sunderbruch - I think he will be a perpetual “pretty good” player. Call it a career Pro Bowl alternate who, because he is playing on a team that seems to have the other pieces in place, might get full-on Pro Bowl nods because people will conflate his winning record with his actual ability. I do think he will steadily improve, though, as the league gets better around him. I expect he’s got a decade in him where people think of him as an underrated/overrated type of guy.

Aaron Leming - I still think Trubisky has a Top 10 ceiling. He has all the ability in the world, the right system and very good weapons around him. I would rank him in the 15-17 range heading into Year 3 but I think with the proper steps, we could see him jump in pretty close to the Top 10 in 2019. Biggest thing to remember is that there is a ton of quarterback talent in the league right now. A lot of that is young. This isn’t the years of Cutler where if he produces at a Top 10 level, it’s still not good enough.

Sam Householder - I think it’s Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers. I think throughout those guys’ careers there have been moments where they’ve been considered elite (Ryan won an MVP), but there have been plenty of other seasons where all the pundits said ‘that guy is never going to be great’ or “that is just below elite.” They’ve both had very good careers, careers that have been defined by the amount of talent and coaching around them though. They’ve been at their best with tremendous players around them (Julio, LT, Gates, Roddy White, good defenses), but when they didn’t their teams underachieved.

Ken Mitchell - I think his ceiling is being the best quarterback to ever play for the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl era. OK, yeah, that’s a pretty darned low bar, I know. If Mitch can limit his turnovers, I foresee him living on the edge of the top 10 for the next 10 years, slowly improving. My comp for him is Steve McNair with a higher completion percentage. McNair was actually “pretty good” in his prime.

Jacob Infante - I believe that Trubisky’s ceiling is a Pro Bowl quarterback — not a second alternate Pro Bowler like he was last year, but a legitimate, top-10 quarterback. I don’t think he will ever be elite because there are other young starters with higher ceilings and better physical attributes than he, but I believe that he can be a very good player at his position, and that could hypothetically be enough to help lead the Bears to the Super Bowl.

Robert Schmitz - Trubisky’s ceiling is, to me, a strange thing to explain. I’ve always joked with those around me that Trubisky will ultimately be a frustrating QB to follow: If QBs were evaluated like baseball players (5-tool players), I believe the 5 tools would be the following:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Decision-making
  3. Pocket Presence
  4. Poise (bouncing back from failure)
  5. Athleticism

With arm-strength being a pass/fail category.

Trubisky has shown evidence that he can be a “plus” player in all of these 5 tools (and I can cite the games he showed them in should you need them), but he’s yet to show he can bring all 5 tools to the same game. I believe that will always haunt him, and that his ceiling is to be a “4-tool player” (according to the “tools” above) and will have to work around whichever tool is failing him on each given day throughout the course of each game. I think he could very well be a perennial 4,000+ yard thrower and that, again at his ceiling, would take up the mantle of Philip Rivers or Tony Romo as ‘the guy who’s pretty good and can win games for his team but definitely not elite.’ This could result in him becoming the latest Bears QB to disappoint the fanbase, or it could result in him being universally beloved. The difference between those two paths, in my eyes, rests solely in what his teams accomplish along the way.

Tomorrow we will wrap up our four-part round-table look at Mitchell Trubisky with everyone’s best guess as to when he’ll reach his full potential.