Prior to the draft, Phil Emery made it clear, based on his observations that you do not draft a Quarterback late to be your future starter. Basically debunking the developmental Quarterback idea. So what does Emery do, in the sixth round he drafts, San Jose State’s David Fales. For a moment that brought on some confusion, that maybe Emery had in fact, smoke screened the media and fans.
Then a day later it was determined that in reality, Fales was drafted to be developed into a backup and he had to compete against Jerrod Johnson and Jordan Palmer for a roster spot. I didn’t know much about Fales for I had drunk the Emery kool-aid and didn’t spend time researching Quarterbacks, except those that might have been undrafted free agents. That got me thinking, if Emery was set on Johnson and Palmer as backups, why would he spend a draft pick on a guy that might make the team? Why not bring in two or three in the UDFA group?
Logic dictates that when you draft a player it is implied you expect them to make the team and eventually have an impact now or in the future. You don’t draft someone with a shrug of the shoulder and an “oh well” attitude. We all know by now, Emery has a plan and while he dismisses the Fales pick as nothing more than a potential backup that hasn’t made the roster yet, I am not buying it.
The more I ponder the Fales choice, read some scouting reports and then went to the tape, I believe there is more to the story here with this selection. First thing you have to look at is the current roster. We know Cutler is the starter, and is locked in for the first three years of his seven year deal. We also know that over the last couple of seasons, Jay had gotten nicked. They made little effort to retain Josh McGown, who had shown he could be a capable backup in the Trestman offense. Bears management went to great lengths to convince us they were comfortable with Jordan Palmer and Johnson.
Really? Then why waste a draft pick on a Quarterback? Oh, you can argue that Palmer will eventually move on to coaching, so Fales his going to be the long term back up solution. Maybe there is some truth to it, but the reality is they are looking at Fales a lot more differently than they are letting on. Here is why.
Jordan Palmer hasn’t thrown a pass in four seasons (counting this one coming). Jerrod Johnson was on the practice squad last season and it is uncertain how has he developed if at all. So you enter this season spending money and drafting players to shore up your defense, add a few depth players to an already supercharged offense. Yet you let a tried and true back up Quarterback walk away? Admitting the Quarterback is the most important player on the field and he has had a knack of getting dinged up and missing some games. That just doesn’t wash.
So why Fales? Simple actually. He fits the Trestman mold. Oh, I know Emery likes Quarterbacks that are as tall as redwoods and Fales is about as tall as … Cutler! Here is the deal, when it comes to Quarterbacks, that is in the hands of Trestman, he makes the call. If you look at Fales he meets the Trestman acid test. Per Draft Insider,
High-percentage quarterback best suited for the intermediate and short passing game. Patient, poised in the pocket, and buys as much time as necessary for receivers. Effectively reads defenses, uses all his targets, and spreads the ball around. Senses pressure, works to elude defenders, and displays a sense of timing on throws. Sets up screen passes, takes the safe underneath outlet and does not have receivers waiting on the ball. Puts the ball in front of targets and lets them run to the pass in the short field. Consistently makes the right choice and stays away from mental errors. Accurate with good pass placement, and does not make receivers work to catch the ball.
Those are all the requirements that Trestman wants in a Quarterback. What is the knock on Fales? He has less zip on his deep throws. That is an interesting remark. I watched tape of Fales and saw him throw some deep passes that looked pretty decent to me, not perfect but accurate enough to get the job done. Fales even discussed it that during the college allstar game he had the flu and had little energy. He also alluded to working on building his arm strength. His production at San Jose St was a completion record of 68%, 66 Touchdown to 22 interceptions and a passer rating of 161! Does he have to throw the ball 40 yards downfield like Cutler? It would be nice, but not required. His college production shows he can get the job done!
Where am I going with all this? My point is that the Bears drafted Fales with a dual purpose. One to develop him to replace Palmer, for I believe Johnson will be cut during training camp. Once Fales settles into the third spot, the next plan is to bring him along to replace Cutler. Sure Fales may not make the grade, but it is an inexpensive investment for the Bears. Much like Rodgers sitting behind Favre for four seasons, Fales can be mentored, learn and grow into being a starting Quarterback.
Think about it, Fales is not some raw kid, he brings maturity and talent that speaks to being a starter over time. Emery wasn’t lying per se, but then again he wasn’t really showing us all of his cards.