Ask any Bears fan where they were the night of April 27, 2017 and I'll bet you money they remember exactly where they were when Ryan Pace made arguably the most franchise-altering pick in the organization's long history.
There are only a few moments that rival such times of meteoric proportions where individuals remember where they were at that exact time: 9/11, John F. Kennedy's assassination, Kobe Bryant's death, and the night the Bears traded up to get Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick.
I was on a bus to Northwestern with the MSU baseball team. We were getting ready for a 4 game series against the Wildcats. We had just stopped off at a Portillo's for dinner. My first time having it in months and I pigged out along with my former teammates. Won't ever forget it.
Looking back almost 4 years later, the Bears recently declined to pick up Trubisky's 5th-year option in what has been a rocky, tumultuous, some up but mostly down duration of his rookie contract.
As a Bears fan, it's a pick we'll never be able to live down. We're not the first organization to whiff on a top 3 pick, definitely not. However, we're among the leaders of a list who whiffed on a top 3 pick when MULTIPLE future Hall of Famers were sitting in their lap.
Teams on the list of supremely blown draft picks?
- 1984 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers pick Sam Bowie No. 2 over Michael Jordan (3)
- 2003 NBA Draft, Detroit Pistons pick Darko Milicic No. 2 Overall
- Next 3 consecutive picks: Carmelo Anthony (3), Chris Bosh (4), Dwayne Wade (5)
- 2007 NBA Draft, Portland Trail Blazers pick Greg Oden No. 1 Overall over Kevin Durant (2)
- 2007 NFL Draft, Oakland Raiders pick Jamarcus Russell No. 1 Overall
- Could have had: Calvin Johnson (2), Joe Thomas (3), Adrian Peterson (7)
- 2017 NFL Draft, Chicago Bears pick Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 Overall
- Deshaun Watson (12), Patrick Mahomes (10)
Earlier this week, Deshaun Watson came out on Twitter and recanted his statement that in fact, the Chicago Bears did NOT speak with him prior to the NFL Draft, despite his initial statements on the Rich Eisen Show.
You may be wondering why Watson "lied" originally, as I did, but his QB Coach, Quincy Avery, explained on Twitter.
Let's say this is true, and I believe it to be because nobody, not Watson nor Avery, has anything to gain from continuing to lie. But the Bears have EVERYTHING to lose by them telling the truth.
I've always said I can't fault Pace for taking Trubisky. He had the guy he wanted and the guy he was in love with. He fell for his boyish good looks and charming midwestern manners. Where I do fault him is for not doing his due diligence on anybody else.
If I'm a GM with a top 3 pick, I can not screw that up. Can not. Impossible. Would be disastrous of monumental proportions. Therefore, I have to do as much predraft planning and my frickin due diligence on every single other player available in that draft. I'm looking over every single quarterback in this draft, double, triple, quadruple checking each one of them in order to make sure I've got the right guy. Let's just not talk to the Quarterback fresh off a National Championship, and the other guy who led the NCAA in passing yards and was top 15 in the nation in Passing Yards per attempt, Passing Touchdowns, Passer Efficiency Rating, Total yards, and Total TD's responsible for.
I don't blame Pace for taking a quarterback. It was the right time, for a young team, ready and poised for a rebound, to go out and get the guy of their future. But to have two other first-round QBs at their disposal and not even take meetings with them? It's inexcusable, inexplicable, and downright unacceptable.
Pace, this is YOUR future and career you're wagering with this pick, it's flat-out idiotic to not even have a (serious) conversation with anybody else.
Serves them right, in my opinion. So that brings us to the biggest question:
Why didn't the Bears talk to Deshaun Watson or Mahomes prior to the 2017 NFL Draft?
It's a question that will haunt Pace, Bears fans, and the organization for centuries to come. When we're all watching football using our Virtual reality glasses in 20 years we'll still be asking this very question.
Many people speculate it's to do with Race. I'm not here to speculate or throw out allegations of racism on behalf of the Bears' organization. However, I will provide context.
Author John Feinstein recently wrote on Twitter:
I have a lot of respect for Feinstein and his reporting and writing. He's the author of some of my favorite Childhood sports novels and his credentials supersede him as a member of The Washington Post, Sporting News, and Golf Digest, among others.
Again, this is not a post degrading the Chicago Bears' front office or accusing them of any racial tendencies, just a possible scenario reported on by an accredited author/reporter.
The rest of the Bears' 2017 NFL Draft Picks:
- Round 1, pick 2: Mitchell Trubsiky
- Round 2, pick 45: Adam Shaheen
- Round 4 pick 112: Eddie Jackson
- Round 4, pick 119: Tarik Cohen
- Round 5, pick 145: Jordan Morgan
Of those 5 draft picks the Bears had that year, Pace did get 3 Pro Bowlers. Tarik Cohen had a down year, but his 2018 season looked like he was yet another steal of the draft behind first-team All-Pro Eddie Jackson.
Maybe it wasn't racism that led to the Bears not talking to Watson or Mahomes? Maybe Pace simply thought he had his guy and felt comfortable with the pick that he focused his time and efforts on nailing his later-round draft selections. If that's the case then he did well for himself. If Tarik Cohen can have a 2018-comparable season and Eddie Jackson keeps doing what he does, then, in that sense, Pace nailed it.
I'm not even going to comment on Adam Shaheen, that pick is not even worth expelling any brain cells on as to why in the world Pace would have taken him.
Regardless of the successes of Cohen and/or Jackson, he'll never be able to live down his Trubisky pick. It's such a screw up of unbelievable proportions that regardless of who he took in the 4th round he set the franchise back another 5 years and wagered his own career on "a beat-up car."
I'll leave you with this: