What is the biggest desire for the upcoming draft? At least from the perspective of Chicago fans. The most persistent seemed to be the hope for a Bears draft trade down from the #3 overall pick. Reasoning for this is pretty straightforward. It’s a deep draft class at several positions of need and none of the top quarterbacks, whom the Bears are doing exhaustive research on, seem worth a selection that high.
Thus moving down makes more sense for them. They get an extra high pick or two and a position where the position matches the player value. It could easily be twisted for other need positions like safety and tight end as well. That’s not the problem. As with most trade down fantasies every year, it’s all about finding a way to generate interest from other teams in your pick.
If nobody feels that spot is important, they won’t pay up to get it. For the past couple months it has proven difficult to justify many teams seeing the #3 spot as valuable real estate. Ever so quietly with a week left before the draft, that may be changing.
Bears draft trade hinges on intentions of Jacksonville
No team holds a great sway on the value of the #3 pick than the team who holds the pick after it. That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars. What their likely intentions are will dictate which teams feel it might be necessary to move up. Presuming of course there is a player said teams think they won’t be able to get if the Jaguars go on the clock.
Often in these situations it always comes down to the quarterbacks. No position in football generates more frantic movement early in a draft. For the longest time people felt there was no way the Jaguars had eyes on the top 2017 QBs. They have Blake Bortles. It makes no sense. Well apparently the team brass feels differently according to NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.
If you missed Path to the Draft over the last three days, one of the most interesting rumors circulating is that Jaguars could go QB at #4.
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) April 20, 2017
This is potentially a gigantic deal. Not only does it add another team to a thick field of possible QB takers, but it also helps the Bears. If teams start to think Jacksonville could take a quarterback at that spot, they’ll view the #3 pick with ever greater value. Assuming GM Ryan Pace is indeed interested in moving down as rumors claim, then this is fantastic news.
It’s also not totally crazy.
The Tom Coughlin effect
Something to remember here is Bortles is no longer under the protective umbrella of his former top five draft status. He’s played in the NFL for three years. None of them have resulted in a playoff trip and 2016 was a huge disappointment statistically. He failed to complete 59% of his passes for the third-straight year and regressed in yards (4,428 to 3,905) and touchdowns (35 to 23) from 2015. He also threw 16 interceptions.
This despite being sacked the fewest times of his career to date by far at 34. The guy just hasn’t looked like the franchise player the Jaguars had hoped for. Adding to this uncertainty is the arrival of Tom Coughlin, the new Vice President of Football Operations. The former two-time Super Bowl winning coach is expected to whip this young team into shape. He sent a loud and clear message when he refused to offer an endorsement of belief in Bortles.
“There’s plenty of work for everybody to do, Blake included,” Coughlin said during a Friday news conference before the NFL scouting combine. “To raise the game to a higher level, it takes all components, though. … And that’s why I mentioned the protection, first of all. [It also entails] people being in the right place at the right time, the timing, taking care of the football, which is paramount to that position.
“There can be no way the ball is turned over to that extent, so I think he’d be the first one to say that he has a lot of work to do. But we all have a lot of work to do, so I’m going to put it that way.”
Indeed Bortles has 63 turnovers since entering the NFL. That has proven to be a killer for Jacksonville in many of their close losses over the past three seasons. It’s not totally unreasonable that Coughlin, who has final say over the roster, might desire a change at quarterback. Preferably to somebody who can protect the football. Maybe it’s Mitch Trubisky who had just four interceptions in 2016 for North Carolina.
Most view Trubisky as the best quarterback on the board with teams like the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills very interested in his services. If it’s not the same for Chicago, then that opens the door nice and wide for trade discussions. Provided the cards are played right, the Bears could come out with a nice haul of picks in return.