This Fanpost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.
We are less than a week away from what will undoubtedly be an absolutely chaotic opening night of the NFL Draft. By now, the sheer volume of mock drafts has overwhelmed fandoms everywhere, and many draft junkies may have lulled themselves into expecting a particular outcome or two as the forgone conclusion for draft night. In these scenarios, players are neatly arranged into drafted slots already, friends are being told "it's in the bag, bro" and Vegas is raking in bet after bet from the seasonal draft "expert."
Chicago Bears fans: do not be fooled. While there are many truths and logical conclusions drawn into the creation of mock drafts, the real things are never what have been projected. An element of chaos is always waiting in the tall grass for an unsuspecting audience. This year will be no different. Let's talk about one of the most "chaotic" projections that is currently making the rounds -- the Bears take Davis Mills, Kellen Mond, or Kyle Trask in the first round.
If you feel your blood boiling already, then this article is probably a good primer for you. I am not a draft expert. I like to play one in my spare time, but all of my opinions are shared with an expectation of "this holds as much water as a peanut shell." However, there is a reality where the Bears do select a QB in the first round and it is not one of Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, Jones, or Lance. By the way, if you're curious, that order is how I rank the QBs in this draft. It, like any draft decision, is a bit of a crapshoot.
Back to the rage source at hand - Pace is on the clock in the first round, and he picks, let's say, Davis Mills, QB out of Stanford. The crowd goes mild. The internet is in an uproar. Calls for Pace to be fired are heard round the world. The Bears are yet another joke in NFL fan circles. The hottest of hot air bags on popular sports talk shows are penning their punches for tomorrow's taping. But let me pose this question: is Pace wrong?
The arguments for and against the pick are straight forward. Let's start with the argument against.
Mills is far from a perfect product. He's in either the second or third tier of QBs in the draft, depending on if you see a gap between Fields and Wilson like I do. He's got promise, but he's not the best player available at 20 by a long shot, and this team has so many other needs. He may still be available at 52 when we are on the clock, so why not take one of the many great OT or WR prospects that are sitting there for us at 20 instead?
The argument for has a simple premise: supply and demand.
The NFL is now clearly a league where a franchise cannot be consistently successful without the emergence of a QB who you can win because of, not win with or in spite of, but because of. An Elite QB is the most sought-after player for every team in the league. The teams that already have them are always having to keep one eye on the future whenever their current Franchise QB starts to look like he's winding down in his career. There is not path forward with mediocre QB play. Even with a supporting case and a dominating defense, an average or less-than-average QB will ruin a franchise. We've seen that first-hand in Chicago for the last few years. And we aren't the only franchise that is looking for a long-term QB solution. Without getting too caught up in the details, there are at least 8 teams who are absolutely looking for their guy, and another 7 to 9 that are either in dire need of looking soon or who should start looking now. 5 of these teams will get one of the first-round prospects. And even if that team isn't "absolutely looking," like the Atlanta Falcons, if they graded a guy high enough, there's no trade in the world that can talk them out of the QB. It's just too important a position to pass up.
So now that we've established demand, let's talk about supply.
We've seen the Colts, Rams, and Panthers all make trades to get a QB this offseason. Detroit also came away with a QB they will likely stick with for the next two years, just to see what they can do with him, but that's a slightly different situation. The Cowboys shelled out an enormous contract to Dak Prescott after finally realizing he's worth the money. The Saints kept both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill through some really... creative contract negotiations. The teams that are not picking in the top 3 of this draft are all waiting to see what happens there after signing a bridge guy in the offseason.
The point is this - there is an incredible shortage of viable QB paths for teams that don't have an answer. Not everyone can have an elite QB, but you can't hope to have one if you don't take a swing on a guy you love. The teams that need one are not going to sit around and expect guys like Mills or Mond to fall to the third round, just because they might be graded to go there. If a GM and coach believe that someone like Mills is their guy, they are going to look to snag them earlier than anyone else can. And the only way that the Bears can jump ahead of the likes of the Patriots, Broncos, Football Team, and more, is to take a guy like Mills in the first round. They get their guy, and he comes with a fifth-year option, which is hyper-valuable in the NFL. It is incredibly possible that if Pace passes on Mills or Mond in the first, they may not be there at pick 52 in the second round. It's a guessing game, but the value of the QB is so high that if you get your guy who you believe can save the franchise, no one will care when you took him.
Am I advocating for Mills at pick 20? I'm not saying that. What I will say is this: if the combination of Nagy, scouts, and Pace all believe they have identified their franchise QB, I don't care what it takes, get him. If you can get him, do it. It's the most important position in the sport. If you nail it, everyone lives to see another day and this team and fanbase has something to believe in again.
By the way, if you've read my other posts, you'll know I'm praying that Fields falls to 4, Atlanta is willing to trade with us, and we get my #2 QB at the fourth pick in the draft. But who knows what will happen. The only thing I do know is that chaos is waiting for us next Thursday night. The sooner you accept it, the better off you'll be.