Should the Chicago Bears ever have drafted Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky or James Daniels?
Floyd was not a bust as a Bear, far from it. But he also never succeeded at the most important task he was chosen for, sacking the quarterback, perhaps because he was never anywhere near special at it in college?
With just 13 starts at North Carolina, the fewest college starts ever by a quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL draft, is there any way Ryan Pace and the Bears could have had a full understanding of who and what Trubisky would be as a pro?
Coming out of Iowa, James Daniels was widely regarded as one of the best center prospects in years, but some analysts questioned his fit at the next level at guard.
Floyd is now a Ram after failing to make any impact at all as a pass rusher as a Bear, Trubisky is in a fight for his professional career with former third-round (88) draft choice Nick Foles, and Daniels is being groomed as a guard.
Obviously Trubisky is the hottest button right now.
There is still a very real chance he will become the franchise quarterback Pace envisioned when he drafted him and every bit as good as Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, the two players he will be forever measured against.
But it is also possible he will never learn to read defenses, see the field or feel the game the way the other two do, really all that’s holding him back at the moment.
Coming out of college there was more than enough tape to project whether Mahomes (29 starts) and Watson (31 starts including two national championship games) could display those intangibles at the next level, but there just wasn’t in Mitch’s 13 starts.
The other day I asked Trubisky’s new quarterback coach, John DiFilippo, if that intuitive feel for the game can be taught or the great ones are just born with it?
“I think it can be developed, I do. I think it can be developed with time and playing experience," DiFilippo said. “But I agree with you, your first part of your question, I think a lot of that, some of that’s God given, I do.
“I think a lot of it is God given in the way your mind works and if in your mind it’s slow, if you can keep your mind kind of working a little bit slowly with the ball in your hand. You always talk about and you hear great ones say, ‘Hey, the game slowed down for me.’ You know what I’m saying, to your point almost.”
There was much less than half the hard evidence on Trubisky than there was on Mahomes and Watson.
Floyd had 6 ½, 6 and 4 ½ sacks in three full seasons at Georgia, and actually started at inside linebacker as a junior.
He was excellent pressuring the quarterback but average at best sacking them.
What made the Bears think he’d be a sack artist at the next level?
Mike Mayock is the general manager of the Raiders now but was a draft analyst when he wrote of Daniels, “I think he can play all three interior offensive line positions, but being a center for me gives him more value.”
One AFC scout shared his report on Daniels with me saying, “Because of the lack of length, height and weight, Daniels could have limitations to being played at guard and may only fit as a center in the NFL.”
The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah wrote prior to the draft, “Daniels is one of the best center prospects I’ve evaluated in the last five years.”
Heading into the 2020 season, quarterback and the interior of the offensive line are two of the biggest questions facing the Bears, and they just guaranteed Robert Quinn $30 million to fill the role Floyd couldn’t.
Overall I remain a Pace fan, and very hopeful about Trubisky and Daniels, two outstanding young men.
But I’d feel a lot better about the future if Pace and the Bears would start basing personnel decisions on what they can clearly see rather than what they hope they can create.