Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes will always be tied together because they were the only quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
And because of how the Bears publicly scouted Watson while privately scheming to pick Trubisky, these two will likely have their stats put next to each other every day until they both retire.
But remember that brief moment when Chicago was totally going to draft Solomon Thomas?
Over at The Athletic, Kevin Fishbain remembers … and wonders what would have happened if the Bears traveled down a different path 218 days ago at the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s not as though the Bears didn’t like Thomas, who was one of the top-rated defensive linemen in the last draft class, and Head Coach John Fox certainly seemed to be a fan:
“Great young guy. Really well thought of,” Fox said, via Fishbain’s story. “Good teammate. Intelligent. He had good burst off the edge. He had good speed. Track players down as a big guy. But we thought very highly of him.”
Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio sang Thomas’ praises, too: “Good athlete, good quickness, played hard, had some versatility,” Fangio said, describing Thomas’ traits. “And you know I thought he would be a good player.” Unfortunately for Thomas, he’s struggled to play consistently well as a rookie.
Thomas has played in nine games (seven starts) but has just two sacks to show for his efforts. His 51.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 469 snaps ranks 95th among 112 qualifying edge rushers, while his 46.1 pass rush grade is the eighth worst by PFF’s standards.
Even though Thomas was viewed a high-risk, high-reward option on draft day because of his tweener status, there was no doubting his fit on a team led by a defensive-minded head coach and a defensive coordinator with a reputation for getting the most out of his players. In fact, Thomas’ struggles make us wonder what it would look like if he was lined up next to Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman on the defensive line, or across from Leonard Floyd as a stand-up 3-4 pass-rushing linebacker.
We’ll never get an answer to those questions, but Fangio could eventually end up in San Francisco. After all, the 49ers wanted to bring him on board (Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said as much to reporters this week) but was blocked by the Bears. Considering Fangio’s history as a defensive coordinator, there isn’t much doubt Thomas could have been next if given the opportunity to learn under one of the league’s best coaches.
After signing Mike Glennon to a three-year deal worth as much as $45 million, the Bears didn’t look to be in the market for a quarterback. Further, the draft was loaded with defensive talent and that appeared to play right into the hands of a team led by Fox and Fangio. Instead, the Bears and 49ers executed a trade that kept the Stanford-educated Thomas in California and shipped Trubisky to Chicago. And while Trubisky and Thomas are two different players at different positions, we’ll definitely keep an eye on Thomas’ progression throughout his NFL career.