With the final countdown upon us and the 2020 NFL Draft kicking off with its first round tonight at 7pm CT on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network, I’ve been thinking a lot about something the last couple days.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about this idea:
“Any time you have a draft with four quarterbacks and four premium tackles, expect a lot of curveballs. I think there are going to be a lot of players that maybe the public didn’t think would be there late first round.” – Chiefs GM Brett Veach.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 20, 2020
Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach knows a thing or two about first-round quarterbacks and how to go about acquiring them. So when Veach says there are four premium quarterbacks in the draft, I’m willing to listen. And while Veach didn’t share specifics, the simple notion that there are going to be four first-round quarterbacks has kept my mind busy.
And then the Chicago Bears dropped this tweet at midnight:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 23, 2020
I’m not saying that the two are related in any way, but that is one heck of a tweet to drop at midnight on Draft Day if you want to get your fans’ brains working overdrive. (Mission accomplished.)
It’s too much to put two and two together here to come up with a fourth Day 1 quarterback that the Bears are going to leap into the back of the first round to grab. No, the Bears Twitter account wasn’t dropping a surprise nugget last night, because obviously. Also because no one knows who’ll still be on the board at the end of the first round.
And it’s also probably crazy to start speculating on a trade up for a quarterback anyway … or is it? I mean, if the Bears *were* going to trade up, it absolutely would be for a quarterback, right? That’s usually how this thing goes. And what if a guy viewed by the Bears to be a premium QB is still there as the first round winds down?
We know that Joe Burrow is going number one overall, with Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert likely to go soon thereafter. But what if Jordan Love slips? Or what if someone perceived by outsiders to be in the “next tier” is actually viewed by the Bears as a premium, can’t-miss guy? (Insert your 2017 trade-up jokes here.)
And who better to help steer Chicago in the right direction than Veach, who was Matt Nagy’s boss in Kansas City, and before that, his teammate while at Delaware. That is to say, oh, hey, the Chiefs have that very last pick in the first round, and with it, the prospect of a fifth year option if you land the right guy.
Perhaps Nagy can pick up the phone, dial up his old college chum, have a friendly chat about those four premium quarterbacks, then make a gentleman’s agreement to work out a deal for pick No. 32 if the guy who happened to be near the top of the Bears’ draft board is available.
Hey, don’t give me that look as if we haven’t seen crazier things happen for the Bears on draft day!
And before you even say it, I know that you’re thinking. Chicago’s draft capital is already limited. Not to mention the various needs they have at starting spots that are currently vacant. I hear ya. Totally valid. We’re just talking here.
My only counter to that is to look at the 2018 NFL Draft and what the Ravens did to acquire Lamar Jackson. Baltimore sent the 52nd, 125th, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the 32nd and 132nd picks in that draft. I’m sure the Ravens had needs elsewhere, but they were willing to roll the dice on a quarterback prospect with upside – and the move up from 52 to 32 wasn’t THAT expensive. The results include two playoff appearances in as many years, along with a 2019 MVP season from Jackson.
In theory, the Bears could pull off a similar move. They own two second-rounders (43, 50), so one could get packaged along with a later pick (163?) and a 2021 second-rounder. It would be bold, but it’s not as if they couldn’t take the second-rounder they didn’t deal and use it to accumulate picks (as they did with pick No. 36 in the 2017 NFL Draft).
All this is to say that this should be an interesting weekend for the Bears, starting as soon as tonight. Whether they trade up, back, or stand pat. This team has needs at various positions and doesn’t have a ton of draft picks to work with, which means they’ll need to hit with what they have. Pace’s first four drafts yielded multiple immediate impact players, including some who weren’t first-round picks. He’ll need some more of that magic if the Bears are going to make the playoffs for the second time in three years. If not, we might be talking about a different GM making picks for the team at this time next year.
But we have a long way to go before we cross that bridge. The first steps to that crossroads begin tonight.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.