The list of quarterbacks in this year’s draft doesn’t stop after the top five five. For the Bears, it may only start then.
The Bears are watching Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond.
And he’s flirting back.
“I definitely see a connection [with the Bears],” he said last week after his on-campus pro day. “I definitely don’t want to say any names — but you know you know I’m definitely excited, especially them being able to watch me in person and watch me spin and spin the ball in person.”
The Bears sent quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo to College Station, Texas to see Mond — and to Palo Alto, California, to watch Stanford’s Davis Mills.
It’s a reminder that the list of quarterbacks in this year’s draft doesn’t stop after the top five five. For the Bears, it may only start then.
The top three picks in the draft, which starts April 29, are expected to be quarterbacks: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence first, likely followed by BYU’s Zach Wilson second and either Alabama’s Mac Jones or Ohio State’s Justin Fields third. North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance could go in the top 10, too.
That would leave the Bears sorting through quarterbacks on Day 2, when they hold Picks 52 and 83. Drafting one in Rounds 2 or 3, though, would go against type. The Bears haven’t taken a quarterback in the second or third round since Peter Tom Willis went 63rd overall in 1990. Pace has drafted only one quarterback — Mitch Trubisky — in his six seasons. Since 2004, fourth-rounder Kyle Orton is the second-highest quarterback the Bears have selected.
This year comes with an added degree of difficulty: no NFL Scouting Combine. Typically, coach Matt Nagy said, coaches get to see how the ball spins out of a passer’s hands and how they move their feet when they throw at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. When the coronavirus scuttled the combine, the Bears sent representatives to virtually every relevant quarterback’s on-campus pro day.
“It definitely helps,” Nagy said. “There’s only so many of those you can do and see with everything else going on. What’s fair is that every other team is doing the same thing.”
Here are four quarterbacks the Bears could consider on Day 2 of the draft:
6-4, 217 pounds
In one sentence: The former top high school quarterback prospect — by both Scout and Rivals — started only 11 college games.
The skinny: No quarterback was hurt more by the shortened college season than Mills. He missed the 2020 opener because of a false positive coronavirus test and played only five games for the Cardinal, whose conference didn’t begin football games until November. At his pro day in the rain, he showed why recruiters fell in love with him in high school — he has both zip and touch.
The big question: Can he stay healthy? Mills’ history of knee injuries dates to high school, when he hurt his left one in the state title game.
He could be: The biggest mystery in the draft. If the Pac-12 had played a full season, Mills could have worked his way into the top tier of quarterbacks. That might have happened next year had he not turned pro, too.
6-3, 205 pounds
In one sentence: The four-year starter quarterbacked the nation’s No. 4 team last year.
The skinny: Mond began career as the country’s top dual-threat quarterback. His completion percentage improved every season and, by the time he left College Station, he held most of the school’s passing records. He was the Senior Bowl MVP in January.
The big question: Can he adjust to the pro game? Mond spent almost all his college career out of the shotgun — which is why he worked exclusively under center at his pro day. His athleticism is a plus at the next level, but there are questions about his accuracy.
He could be: Colin Kaepernick, a second-round pick 10 years ago with whom he shares special athleticism and less-impressive passing touch. The Bears just spent four years being frustrated by an athletic, inaccurate quarterback, though, and might not want to go through that again.
6-5, 240 pounds
In one sentence: He went from not starting his first three years of high school — or his first three years of college — to a Heisman Trophy finalist.
The skinny: Trask led major college football with 4,283 passing yards and 43 touchdowns in 2020 — though that was partly a function of the SEC playing more games than the Big Ten or Pac-12. His production and height will land him an opportunity somewhere. If it’s Chicago, he’d have an ally waiting for him — Trask has been working out with Andy Dalton in California.
The big question: Are teams drafting lifelong backups this high? Trask’s experience playing second-string could prove helpful in the NFL, where he could carve out a decade-long career as a backup. That has value for teams — but probably not until Day 3.
He could be: The Steelers’ Mason Rudolph, who was also old — almost 23 — when he was drafted out of Oklahoma State.
6 feet, 211 pounds
In one sentence: No quarterback in Notre Dame history won more games than the undersized Book’s 30.
The skinny: Book isn’t a Day 2 pick unless a team overlooks his measurables and sees a two-time captain who had more success than almost any passer in Notre Dame history. He’s probably at the top of the Day 3 quarterback tier, which includes Texas’ Sam Ehlinger — Tom Herman, his former head coach, now works for the Bears — and former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman.
The big question: He’s too small, isn’t he? Six quarterbacks 6 feet or shorter started at least one game last year. Four have special skills: Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray and Tua Tagovailoa. The other two, Ben DiNucci and Phillip Walker, started one game each. Book’s skill set skews more toward the second group.
He could be: A quicker Chase Daniel, maybe? Daniel, remember, went undrafted.