Drafting quarterbacks for the Chicago Bears isn’t easy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible. The Bears drafted Jim McMahon in 1982, and he eventually led them to and won a Super Bowl. He’s the only quarterback to do so in the NFL’s modern era.
Since McMahon, over the last 40 years, the Bears have drafted 15 different quarterbacks. And being there really isn’t much to say about the 2023 Chicago Bears, I figure let’s look back on what the Bears have done at this position, or I should say, haven’t done at this position over the years. Here’s looking at every quarterback the Bears have drafted going back 40 years and ranking them in order.
To rank these players, I took into account where they were drafted and how much impact they had. So that may mean there are QBs with lesser impact ranked ahead of quarterbacks that had more impact, but those QBs may have been taken in the first round while other QBs may have been a better value where they were selected.
15. Brent Snyder- 1989, 7th round, 192nd overall
I’ll be honest. I’ve never heard of this guy. I’m pretty good at remembering random Bears players from years past but with Snyder, I have no clue. He never made the team, nor did he ever stick to a practice squad in Chicago or anywhere.
14. Dan LeFevour- 2010, 6th round, 181st overall
If you’ve never taken an NFL snap, you have to be at the bottom of the list. LeFevour didn’t even make it to the season for the Bears. He was released during final cuts, and the Bengals scooped him up. He spent a few years on practice squads but never got into an NFL game.
13. Nathan Enderle- 2011, 5th round, 160th overall
Enderle is in the same boat as LeFevour, he never took an NFL snap, and he bounced around on practice squads for a few years, but he makes the list above LeFevour because he managed to hang around with the Bears for one season.
12. Cade McNown- 1999, 1st round, 12th overall
Now that we’ve reached the list of quarterbacks that have taken an NFL snap, McNown brings up the rear. Sure, he has bigger statistics than some of those who are ahead of him, but none of them were a bigger investment than McNown. Had McNown actually succeeded, the entire trajectory of the Chicago Bears changes going into the 21st century.
11. Will Furrer- 1992, 4th round, 107th overall
Furrer managed to work his way into 9 games in his NFL career, he started two and lost them both. Not exactly what you hope for from a 4th round pick, but when the results were as bad as they were, he wasn’t going to get more opportunities. Furrer managed to complete less than 50% of his passes and threw 10 interceptions to just 2 touchdowns. His performances were rough, even as Bears QBs go.
10. David Fales- 2014, 6th round, 183rd overall
Fales was always a long shot to do anything, but what he accomplished was nothing. He managed to enter one game for the Bears. I remember it well. It was 2016, the Vikings were crushing the Bears and Matt Barkley was knocked out of the game. With Cutler already injured, the Bears turned to young David Fales, who over the last 10 minutes of the game, threw 5 passes, completing 2 of them for 22 yards.
9. Moses Moreno- 1998, 7th round, 232nd overall
Moses Moreno lost the only game he started for the Chicago Bears, a 31-17 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But what did Moreno manage to do? Throw a touchdown without any interceptions! The bar is low, but Moreno manages to grab the 9th spot with that lone performance.
8. Peter Tom Willis- 1990, 3rd round, 63rd overall
PT Willis was one of the most popular backup quarterbacks in NFL history. He always sat there on the bench while guys like Mike Tomczak and Jim Harbaugh routinely struggled paving the way for the fans to pound the table to give Willis a chance. When he finally did, he did nothing with that opportunity. Willis was 0-3 as a starter and appeared in 21 games overall. He threw 6 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions.
7. Craig Krenzel- 2004, 5th round, 148th overall
Krenzel started 5 games for Chicago, in those games he managed to throw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns (6 to 3) and couldn’t complete 50% of his passes, but what happened in those games? The Bears went 3-2! If you’re under center for more wins than losses, even if you didn’t very little to contribute, that’s a win on this list!
6. Paul Justin- 1991, 7th round, 190th overall
It’s fitting that the guy ranked 6th on this list never played a game for the Chicago Bears. Justin spent one season in Chicago before they cut him. He spent a few years bouncing around the Arena Football League and the World League of American Football (NFL Europe) before settling in with the Indianapolis Colts. Justin started 7 games for Indy and won 3 of them. His stats were very pedestrian, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have more success than the previous collection of QBs listed above.
5. Justin Fields- 2021, 1st round, 11th overall
I certainly hope if this list is ever revisited that Fields can work his way higher on this list, but right now, this is where he sits. The good news is, no matter what happens, he can’t fall any lower. And while many of the issues around this team don’t involve Fields, it’s tough to list him any higher on this list when the team has won just 5 of his 28 career starts and he continues to struggle in the passing game despite his dynamic traits.
4. Mitch Trubisky- 2017, 1st round, 2nd overall
There’s probably plenty of you looking at this and going, Fields is better than Trubisky. That may be true, but Trubisky had a more successful career in Chicago than Fields has to this point. Trubisky led the Bears to the playoffs twice, and while the team around him was certainly better than what Fields had to operate with prior to this season, the bottom line is results and you can’t argue that the Bears from 2017 to 2020 are better than they’ve been from 2021 to 2023.
3. Rex Grossman- 2003, 1st round, 23rd overall
While I’m giving credit for quarterbacks for managing teams with talent, Grossman gets the nod above Mitch for one reason and that’s the Super Bowl. Yes, that appearance was largely due to the defense and Devin Hester, and Grossman’s performance in the big game was a large reason why they lost, but when you are dealing with such a low success rate, not screwing up enough to allow the rest of the roster to reach the Super Bowl gets you a top three finish on this list.
2. Kyle Orton- 2005, 4th round, 106th overall
Kyle Orton had a 21-12 record as a starter in Chicago. That’s actually a better record than Grossman had during roughly the same timeframe. Orton certainly wasn’t anything spectacular, but he threw more touchdowns than interceptions with the Bears, which is something not many QBs can say on this list. Orton also led the Bears to an 11-5 record in 2005 after Rex Grossman was injured during the preseason. The team went back to Grossman late in the season, and it was Grossman who started and lost the playoff game to the Carolina Panthers.
1. Jim Harbaugh- 1987, 1st round, 26th overall
The fact that Jim Harbaugh is first on this list is a rough pill to swallow. Harbaugh was a decent QB in Chicago but never lived up to the first-round hype that surrounded him when he was selected, but he was a decent game manager during his time in Chicago. What cements his name atop the list is his 1995 season which, of course, was with the Indianapolis Colts and not the Bears. Harbaugh was 4th in the MVP voting that year and was within an eyelash of defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers and leading the Colts to the Super Bowl.
How would you rank these players?