Chicago Bears

Arthur Arkush: What we learned about Bears' QB plans

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts passes in the first half against TCU on Nov. 23 in Norman, Okla.
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts passes in the first half against TCU on Nov. 23 in Norman, Okla.

This April could mark 15 years since the Bears last spent a top-150 draft pick on a quarterback not named Mitch Trubisky.

They’re currently projected to have only three top-150 selections – fewer than their four current starting vacancies (RG, LB, CB and S) – and although the Bears’ need for better quarterbacking is inarguable, it can be debated whether utilizing one in that trio, if not one of eight overall, at the position is wise.

Regardless, it of course is inevitable that the QB discussion will continue to rage on in Chicago not only over the next two months, but however long it takes to stabilize the most important position in all of sports. So what’s the tone of the discussion exiting the combine?

The Bears have inquired about Andy Dalton with the Cincinnati Bengals, as The Athletic officially first reported and we’ve all thought was a likelihood since even before Bill Lazor’s hire. ESPN reported that a veteran with significant starting experience and pedigree to push Trubisky would be added to the mix. Again, only Trubisky is under contract, so this has long been expected.

But what about the rookie options, and is there anything we can glean regarding the Bears’ thoughts on the class from their now-confirmed interest in Dalton?

Let’s start with the name we began with last week in Indianapolis, Georgia’s Jake Fromm. After his hands measured the smallest at the position in Indy – 87/8 inches, falling below the 9-inch threshold of some clubs – he was as advertised in the testing and throwing workouts, which is to say underwhelming.

Our good pal Eric Edholm, formerly of Pro Football Weekly/Bears Insider and now lead NFL draft expert for Yahoo!, included Fromm as one of the event’s “losers.” Now, this isn’t necessarily a death knell that precludes Fromm from becoming a Bear, of course. There’s nothing overly impressive about Dalton’s physical/athletic profile, either, but at least with Dalton, there’s already a baseline of how his skills translate to the NFL.

The two other incoming QB prospects whom we’ve long considered intriguing Bears targets are Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Washington State’s Anthony Gordon. It’s worth noting that Hurts earned rave reviews for his athleticism, yes, but also deft touch on the deep ball and improved throwing mechanics and consistency.

We all knew he’d test out like a terrific athlete (position-leading 10-foot-5-inch broad jump, second-best 40-yard dash, 4.59, and 35-inch vertical that tied for fourth), and Mark Schofield wrote from the Senior Bowl for us on Hurts’ sneaky-advanced vertical chops.

Hurts’ sterling interview process also surprised no one for a prospect with second-to-none intangibles, but for a supposed athlete learning to play quarterback, his throwing session – yes, against air – revealed improved mechanics and not a lot of warts.

Would continued success as the pre-draft process progresses give Hurts an opportunity to land on Day 2? That possibly shouldn’t be discounted, although that’s what the Bears and their fans covet – a potential discount on a prospect with championship pedigree and vast potential in the right situation.

Although Fromm and Hurts are two of college football’s more recognizable stars, we also must mention a sleeper with Bears connections – Florida International’s James Morgan. Multiple reports indicate Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s staff was among the most interested at the combine in the former Bowling Green product who transferred to FIU after only one full season.

Morgan has prototype size and a big arm, but he’s limited athletically. Combined with a rough final season at FIU, that probably has him destined to be available in the mid-to-later rounds.

Would Pace draft another quarterback from a school with an even more limited track record than North Carolina, and one who couldn’t beat out the starter on a Mid-American Conference team before transferring to FIU?

It sounds unlikely, but so did trading up to select Trubisky No. 2 overall.

Finally, Gordon didn’t participate in most of the athletic workouts, opting to wait for the Cougars’ pro day, but he did showcase the impressive release and footwork that have many viewing him as a sleeper in this class.

As we’ve mentioned here previously, he sat behind Jaguars sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew, who had success last season under – wait for it – new Bears QBs coach John DeFilippo.

And although Gordon is a one-year starter – which could be an immediate turnoff for some Bears fans tormented by Trubisky – he explained at the combine how Mike Leach’s increasingly NFL-vogue Air Raid system helps those guys get prepared with as many live reps as quarterbacks from any school.

Gordon perhaps had a quiet combine, and it might be ideal for the Bears.

• Arthur Arkush is managing editor for Shaw Media Illinois’ Bears coverage. Write to him at aarkush@profootballweekly.com, and follow him on Twitter @ArthurArkush.

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