There’s a growing consensus that QBs Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance are in a class of their own in the upcoming NFL Draft. But after that? Slim pickings. Sure, there could be a diamond-in-the-rough after Round 1, but a class with five first-round-caliber QBs is already a bit of an outlier (there’s been only one other draft class since 2010 with five QBs taken in Round 1 (2018)). So if you’re banking on taking a QB after those five, you’ve got to be ready to roll the dice (you’re telling me that QB6 in a given draft class isn’t likely to pan out? GASP!).
So with that in mind, the Bears may have to trade up if they want to land the sort of player they’ve been chasing since … professional football started. Their current slate of draft capital/positioning won’t make that easy – and the number of teams looking to tap into this tier of QBs doesn’t help either – but here are some of the ways they can make it work.
The Best, But Most Expensive Option
Quarterbacks have never been selected with each of the first four picks in the modern NFL Draft era. That might change if the Atlanta Falcons find a team willing to make a deal. Atlanta emerged as a trade possibility when it restructured QB Matt Ryan’s deal, essentially making him un-tradable for the foreseeable future. And sure enough, the latest rumors say the Falcons are open to trading the fourth overall pick.
It’s just that the cost figures to be astronomical:
Since people keep asking about Chicago to No. 4
It just cost SF No. 12, 2022 1st, 2022 3rd, 2023 1st to get to No. 3
No. 20 to No. 4 would probably take No. 20, No. 52, No. 83, 2022 1st, 2023 1st
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) April 6, 2021
Likelihood: It all depends on who hands over the largest offer. Trading out of the top-5 and into the 20th spot doesn’t seem ideal for Atlanta. So, Chicago will need to make it worth their while in draft capital. Hence, PFF’s Brad Spielberger’s guess including three years worth of first-round picks. In short, the Bears’ offer needs to be above and beyond what other teams are willing to give. Or in other words, a trade to take QB4 will be an uncomfortable one.
These Teams Don’t Need QBs, But It’ll Still Be Expensive
Cincinnati (5th) and Miami (6th) might as well be two peas in a pod, because neither needs a quarterback.
The Bengals don’t need a quarterback after drafting Joe Burrow a year ago. And the Dolphins don’t need a quarterback either.
But what Cincinnati needs is *checks depth chart* pretty much everything else. And with the fifth pick, Cincy could get a king’s ransom for a team wanting to draft the best QB is on the board. As for Miami’s needs, they aren’t as plentiful. But that aforementioned king’s ransom could still be there for the taking.
Even still … convincing a team to trade out of a top-6 slot won’t be easy.
Likelihood: After executing two trades involving their first-round pick, Miami could be a team worth dialing up to gauge trade interest. For what it’s worth, the Bears and Dolphins pulled off a trade last offseason with Adam Shaheen. So maybe having a working history helps here. Considering the Bengals’ biggest need are at offensive line and receiver, I can make a case for them trading back to 20 and still feeling comfortable with the type of first-round prospect who can be had. Nevertheless, the cost of trading to this spot in the draft for QB5 will be pricey.
Teams That Could Draft a QB, But Might Be Talked Into Waiting ‘Til Next Year
I don’t want to waste too much time on the idea of dealing with Detroit. Because if the Lions weren’t trading Matthew Stafford within the division, I find it more of a long-shot that they’d trade a draft pick that could net a division rival a potential franchise QB draft option. But I’ll clump them here with Carolina anyway, because those are the two teams who could conceivably still draft a QB despite offseason moves that suggest they won’t.
The Lions brought in Jared Goff in the Stafford deal, while the Panthers dealt for Sam Darnold (and will reportedly pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal). In both cases, Detroit and Carolina acquired and committed to new quarterbacks for multiple years. But each team could easily take a quarterback to sit behind the presumptive starter for a year, then unleash that arm after a year of seasoning.
Likelihood: For the sake of this post, the Panthers are the team the Bears would need to talk to if a quarterback is still on the board. And that’s only if the Lions don’t take a deal elsewhere from a different team that would want to trade up for a QB. Carolina appears operating with an analytical mindset. This could benefit the Bears because the Panthers might value a treasure trove of future picks for a rebuilding franchise. Then again, it could hurt because an analytically thinking front office could fleece the Bears, who aren’t known for thinking in that manner.
If a QB is There, They’re Taking Them
The Denver Broncos own the ninth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And because of their needs at the position, the Broncos should be working the phones harder than any other team. Imagine having a top-10 pick, but then being leap-frogged and left holding the bag. The Niners already did it in trading up from No. 12 to get the Dolphins’ No. 3 overall pick. I can’t imagine John Elway wanting to deal with that twice. But if he doesn’t, I fully expect the Broncos to take the best quarterback available. Then again, if that quarterback doesn’t fit John Elway’s archaic requirements when it comes to measurables, this is where the QB fall could begin.
Likelihood: If the Broncos pass on taking a quarterback, I’ll find myself questioning why the Bears should want to trade up for whichever prospect is on the board.
The Sweet Spot
Because the Cowboys (10th pick) and Giants (11th) don’t need quarterbacks, this is where Chicago can make hay. And do so without mortgaging the entire Halas estate.
It took the 27th and 91st overall picks, plus a 2018 first-rounder for the Chiefs to move up to take Patrick Mahomes. That deal appears to be working out well for Andy Reid and friends. In the same draft, the Texans sent the 25th overall pick and a 2018 first-rounder for Deshaun Watson. Essentially, what I’m getting at here is that the best-case scenario would be a QB dropping to 10. This would give Chicago an opportunity to make a move without surrendering too many draft assets. It’s a win-win for all parties. The Bears could get their quarterback. And a possible future GM won’t inherit a totally bare cupboard. It’s not perfect, but it’s not the worst-case scenario.
Likelihood: I’ve read one too many mock drafts that have five quarterbacks going in the first nine picks. So I’m not holding my breath. However, history shows this is the most likely scenario for a Bears Draft day trade-up. Because after that, it’s a hodgepodge of good luck figuring that out.