By virtue of a 3-1 start, there should still be some good vibes surrounding the Chicago Bears.
This isn’t to say that what we saw Sunday against the Colts wasn’t concerning. But winning three of four to start the year builds something of a buffer and provides a base from which optimism can grow. These Bears could still make the playoffs. And anything can happen when your team makes the postseason. With that being said, a team that talked itself up as having championships aspirations should be viewed through that lens until proven otherwise.
Nevertheless, I still have one eye on the Bears’ long-term future.
Mel Kiper Jr. shared his first set of rankings now that the 2020 college football season is underway. And for us, the obvious focus is on the quarterback position. Let’s face it. The Bears’ starting quarterback can opt out of his deal as early as after this season concludes. Their backup is a free-agent-to-be who was benched three games into the season. The time has come to start peeking into the future. You don’t have to dive deep just yet, but know that the future is coming across the horizon.
Kiper’s top three QB prospects are exactly whom you’d expect them to be. Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) is undeniably the class’ top prospect, and someone Kiper views as “a can’t miss prospect with elite upside.” Justin Fields (Ohio State) is QB2 with a lot to prove. I don’t think Fields will topple Lawrence in these rankings, but improved decision-making could help make his case. Trey Lance (North Dakota State) is arguably the most intriguing prospect on the board. Kiper thinks Lance could even be a top-10 pick, but the NDSU product looked rusty in his showcase game and never looked the part of a premier passer against Central Arkansas. There’s plenty to be excited about with this group, but things get a bit shaky after that.
Kyle Trask (Florida) is Kiper’s biggest riser to this point. The Gators have been clicking with Trask, who has a large frame at 6-5 and the willingness to make all the throws. But I imagine scouts want to see him continue that consistent play before they lock him into a potential first-round slot. Zach Wilson (BYU) is a player Kiper insists we keep an eye on, as he has completed 85 percent of hiss passes, thrown for 949 yards, and tossed 6 touchdowns (with just one interception) in three games. The wild-card names don’t end there.
Miami’s D’Eriq King gets an opportunity to showcase his skills against Clemson on Saturday. Shane Buechele (SMU) is one of college football’s most fun quarterbacks, but has a fourth-round grade right now. K.J. Costello (Mississippi State) has late-round potential and is in Mike Leach’s QB-friendly system, but he is prone to interceptions (which will hurt his stock).
Surely there will be others who emerge at one point or another. Save for a handful of college football hipsters, few saw Joe Burrow’s surge coming in 2019. Not to say that Burrow 2.0 is out there slinging it on someone’s campus. But we might as well keep an open mind as the quarterback prospect market develops.