Breaking down 3 QBs Bears could draft
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Bears are unlikely to escape the NFC North cellar, where they have resided the past three seasons, until they solidify the quarterback position. That's their focus at the NFL Scouting Combine this week. This year's crop of quarterbacks, though average according to most draft analysts, features good depth and something for everyone.
For the Bears, it means they can address the most important position on the field any time in the first five rounds and at least add some potential and competition at quarterback. For now, though, the spotlight is on the top three QBs.
Quarterbacks were interviewed by the media Thursday, and the star of the show was clearly Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, who appeared polished, well-spoken and mature well beyond his 21 years.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer was brilliant in 2015, when he reaped the benefits of a strong roster. But he struggled to carry an inferior team in 2016 that finished 4-8.
Since then he's adapted a bunker mentality.
"I've been able to refine everything that I'm supposed to refine, really own who I am as a passer, really buy into a bunker mentality," Kizer said. "(I'm) not taking any marketing deals, saying off of social media, staying out of the spotlight to make sure I perfect my craft."
Kizer bore the brunt of the criticism last year for Notre Dame's embarrassing season, and NFL coaches have asked about it.
"With a guy my size, my arm talent, my understanding of football, why do you go 4-8?" Kizer has been asked. "I think I've answered that question as truthfully as I possibly can, and that's simply that I didn't make plays. The ball is in your hand as a quarterback every play, and if you're going to go win games in the fourth quarter then you've got to be the guy making the plays."
Projections for where Kizer will be drafted have been everywhere from No. 1 overall to the early second round. Just as many mock drafts have Clemson's Deshaun Watson being drafted ahead of Kizer, and the Notre Dame quarterback says the two have developed a relationship based on their shared experience.
"One thing that I take from him is his simple love for the game and how much fun he has during it," Kizer said of Watson. "I'm a guy who's pretty serious. I sit up here and try to stay as poised as possible and as even-keeled as possible. The way he enjoys it is something that I want to bring into the way I go about my processes."
While Kizer might have a higher ceiling than Watson, the Clemson QB probably has a higher floor. He was 33-3 as a starter and took his team to back-to-back national title games, winning the most recent one. He was 48-8 as a starter in high school.
"One thing that translates from college to the NFL is winners," Watson said. "Being a quarterback, that's the biggest thing, winning games, and that's all I've been doing."
When scouts put Watson under the microscope to look for flaws, his 17 interceptions last season jump out.
"I understand that was going to come," Watson said. "They're going to poke holes, and if I were in their shoes, I would poke holes, too. But I take full responsibility in all that.
"Sometimes you just have bad luck. Sometimes the defense made a good play. Sometimes I made a bad throw. I've learned from those mistakes, and I've corrected those and am moving forward."
North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky has just about everything scouts look for in a quarterback, and in his final two seasons had a 36-6 TD-to-interception ratio. The knock on him is that he never started until his final season. He had a year of eligibility remaining, but why go back to school when you're a sure-fire first-round pick who could go No. 1 overall?
While Trubisky didn't enjoy sitting on the bench for two years behind Marquise Williams, he said it was a learning experience.
"It taught me a lot about life and adversity," he said. "Not everything is going to go your way, especially when you deserve something. Being on the bench taught me how to be a better teammate. I found other ways to get better. I found other ways to push my teammates and be a leader.
"It's helped build me into the person I am today. But the best way for me to excel at my game is to be in there and play."
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