Chicago Bears Draft: Why Ryan Pace should not trade up for a quarterback
By Chuck Fouts
The Chicago Bears are without a first-round draft pick but have two second-rounders. History proves why Ryan Pace should not trade up for a quarterback.
It’s 2020 and the Chicago Bears maybe once again floating around the idea of trading up to take a quarterback in this year’s draft.
The Bears have what can only be called a very auspicious record when taking quarterbacks in the various NFL drafts. No less than nine quarterbacks have been taken in the first round between the years 1939 and 2017. That number grows to ten if you count Bobby Layne. I’ll explain soon.
Since 1939 the Bears have not drafted a quarterback in only two decades. Those being the sixties and seventies. So let’s delve into these picks and see how the team fared.
1. Sid Luckman
The Bears took Sid Luckman 2nd overall in the 1939 draft. It was a minor surprise to many since he had played in college as a single wing-back. But George Halas wanted someone to take over his new version of the T-formation offense and he thought Luckman had the perfect tools for the job.
He could not have been more right as No. 42 went on to lead the Bears to four NFL championships. Along the way, he broke many passing records including throwing for 443 yards and seven touchdowns in one game. In the 1943 season, Luckman had 28 touchdowns in a 10 game season.
After his career with the Bears, Luckman had his number retired and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
2. Frankie Albert
Frankie Albert was taken with the 10th pick in 1942. I couldn’t glean a lot of information about him except that he never played for the Bears. He did, however, have an All-Pro career with San Francisco. Obviously the Bears knew he was talented, I just don’t know why he did not get his chance with Chicago.
3. Johnny Lujack
There was much fanfare surrounding Johnny Lujack after he finished up his collegiate career at Notre Dame by winning the 1947 Heisman Trophy award. The Bears snatched him up with the 4th overall pick in 1948.
But Lujack played only four years with Chicago before abruptly retiring to return to his Alma mater as an assistant coach. While with the Bears he did throw for over six thousand yards in only 28 starts. He also threw for 41 touchdowns in that span.
4. Bob Williams
For their next first-round pick the Bears went right back to the University of Notre Dame. With the 2nd pick in the 1951 draft, they took Bob Williams. Williams had won the National Championship in 1949. He played only three years however and finished his Bears career with less than one thousand yards.
5. Jim McMahon
After going two decades without drafting a QB in the first round the Bears and their new coach Mike Ditka went looking for someone to lead a new-look offense. Ditka settled on Jim McMahon and the rest, as they say, is history.
McMahon never really had any big-time flashy stats but he was possibly the best leader in team annals. In fact, between 1984 and 1987, the Bears had a remarkable 22-0 record in games started by McMahon. But he was plagued by injuries most of his career and left the team after the 1988 season.
6. Jim Harbaugh
After finishing third in the Heisman Trophy race in 1986, Jim Harbaugh was chosen by the Bears in the first round with the 26th pick. He remained a back-up in Chicago until 1990. In his first two years as a starter, Harbaugh started 31 of the team’s 32 games and the Bears won 22 games combined in 1990 and 1991.
After that things went downhill for both Harbaugh and the Bears. Ditka was fired after the ’92 season and Harbaugh signed with the Indianapolis Colts after the 1993 season. It was there that he had his best year as a pro taking the Colts to the AFC Championship game in 1995 and making it to the Pro Bowl that same year.
7. Cade McNown
Drafted with the 12th pick in 1999, there are many historians who still say that Cade McNown is the biggest quarterback bust in the history of the NFL. An analysis I tend to agree with so I will say no more about him here.
8. Rex Grossman
In 2003 the Chicago Bears drafted Rex Grossman with the 22nd pick. He spent most of his career as an injury-prone back up. He did have one good year leading the Bears to the 2006 Super Bowl where they lost to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
9. Mitchell Trubisky
The latest 1st round pick of the Chicago Bears is Mitchell Trubisky from the University of North Carolina. General manager Ryan Pace wanted Trubisky so bad that he traded up to the number two pick just to make sure he was still available.
So far, I would have to say his career in Chicago has been lackluster at best. But the jury is still out and he should have at least one more year to prove his worth.
Now about the aforementioned Bobby Layne. Officially he was drafted by Pittsburgh out of the University of Texas in 1948. However, Layne refused to play there and George Halas jumped at the chance to trade for his rights.
He was in Chicago for only one year though. After playing as a third option behind Luckman and Lujack, Layne decided he didn’t want to come back to the Bears and demanded a trade. Eventually, he ended up with the Detroit Lions where he began a Hall of Fame career.
There you have it. Every first-round pick the Chicago Bears have ever had. Now you can probably see what I meant when I said auspicious at the beginning of this article.