Welcome to the Wednesday War Room, where your favorite Yahoo Sports NFL writers weigh in on the most serious and critical NFL topics of the day. Read on for how you can join in. Today, we’re talking the Chicago Bears’ draft woes and the likelihood of surviving a series at quarterback for the 49ers. Onward!
Question 1: The Chicago Bears selected Mitchell Trubisky with the second pick of the NFL draft, a move that looks terrible from every angle. What could possibly be a worse draft-night meltdown than that?
The entire football world might be unable to look away from the Chicago car wreck, but the truth is that laughing at the Bears’ first-round foibles has turned into a rite of spring for those of us in the Windy City.
This is nothing new.
Yes, there was Brian Urlacher in 2000, Tommie Harris in 2004 and Kyle Long in 2013. Greg Olsen (2007) turned into an All-Pro (albeit for another team, thanks Mike Martz!) and the jury is still out on Leonard Floyd (2016). The rest of the list is cover-your-eyes worthy, though. It’s headlined by punch-line quarterbacks in Cade McNown (1999) and Rex Grossman (2003), anchored by a trio of running backs that never lived up to their college fame (Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Enis, Cedric Benson) and accented by three wide receivers (Curtis Conway in 1993, David Terrell in 2001, Kevin White in 2015) who never proved they were worth a top 10 pick.
The rest of the list is made up of players long since forgotten by anyone not holding a Chicago area code: John Thierry? Michael Haynes? Kyle Fuller? Chris Williams? Gabe Carimi? What’s truly astounding is that this has truly been a group effort with five different front offices contributing to being consistently disappointing.
So while Mitchell Trubisky might be a bit taken aback from the reception he’s received so far, he can take solace in the fact that it’s really not him, it’s the Bears’ front office.
Ricky Williams to the Saints. New Orleans was 6-10 in each of its first two seasons under Mike Ditka, and he clearly wanted to make a splash. But teams that haven’t been to the playoffs in six years, like the Saints going into the 1999 draft, generally need more than one player to change the course of the franchise. Not to Ditka. He traded his entire ’99 draft – and first- and third-round picks in 2000 – to Washington in exchange for the No. 5 pick, which he used to get Texas running back Ricky Williams. And after all of that, what did Ditka and the Saints get? A 3-13 season in 1999, a firing for Ditka, and only 38 games from Williams. New Orleans traded Williams to Miami in 2002. Throw in that just ridiculous bride-and-groom photo Ditka and Williams posed for on the ESPN the Magazine cover, and the whole thing was just a disaster.
Everyone is freaking out about what the Bears gave up to move up one spot for Trubisky. They gave up a pair of third-round picks and a fourth. Here’s what the San Diego Chargers gave up in 1998 to move up from No. 3 to No. 2, the exact move the Bears made: A 1998 second-round pick, a 1999 first-round pick, returner/receiver Eric Metcalf and linebacker Patrick Sapp. Metcalf was a two-time All-Pro returner (though he was ineffective for Arizona in 1998, at 30 years old). Sapp was a 1996 second-round pick who didn’t work out. Still, that makes the Bears’ price to move up look like pocket change. The MMQB pointed out this week that on one of the draft value charts, the Bears gave up 580 points, and the 1998 Chargers gave up … 1,980 points!
And yes, the Chargers drafted Ryan Leaf with that pick, after the Indianapolis Colts took Peyton Manning first. No matter how bad Trubisky is, he won’t be worse than Leaf.
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“I think the consensus of opinion is that two guys like (Manning and Leaf) don’t come along very often,” Charger general manager Bobby Beathard said on the day of the trade, according to the Associated Press. “If we’re going to be successful in getting that type of quarterback, we’re going to have to give up something, and we really did.”
They really did give up something, no question there.
We won’t know for a few years just how bad this Chicago deal is, but you’re rolling into a season with one quarterback hated by the entire fanbase and another (Mike Glennon) feeling like he just got chumped in front of the entire country. Not a great recipe for immediate success. But in terms of draft-day debacles, you can’t beat what happened to the Vikings two years in a row in the early 2000s. The clock ran out on Minnesota while it was trying to swing a 2003 trade with Baltimore (to be fair, the Ravens didn’t submit their half of the deal to the league in time) and the Jaguars and Panthers leaped up to hand in their cards before Minnesota could get its act together. The year before was even more humiliating: a Kansas City staffer literally blocked the Vikings staffer from reaching the podium so that Kansas City could complete a trade with Dallas. That’s why you need to send a line-busting fullback to rush that card to the podium, not some analytics geek.
Technically, the Rams-Redskins trade that brought Washington RG3 wasn’t a Draft Day debacle since the trade happened a few weeks prior to the first round. But the Redskins pulled the trigger on Robert Griffin III, and if my memory serves at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of conjecture about the price the Redskins paid to move up. Griffin was considered that good, and most people debated whether he — not Andrew Luck — was the real prize of that class. We know how that one went. And to me, it’s not about the picks the Rams made in exchange; it’s about what they could have done with them. In theory, the Rams realistically could have drafted Luke Kuechly, Janoris Jenkins (whom they actually took), Lane Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Oh, and the Rams had chances to draft Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins at the tops of Rounds 3 and 4, respectively. Yeah, this whole thing was a debacle all the way around.
Question 2: What would it take to get you to play a full series of downs at quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers? No kneeling down, no handing off; you have to throw at least one pass.
I’ve always wondered things like: If you got a full season of at bats in Major League Baseball, could you get one hit? (I’ve figured yes, seeing some of these pitchers swing, and none of them go hitless over a career.) Or, how many games would you have to play in the NBA – with a green light to shoot – before you made a basket? But those questions don’t involve 300-pound linemen about to crush your spine and your soul, so the answer is that it would take a lot. Maybe not Mike Glennon money, but enough to cover inevitable medical expenses.
In addition to a hefty check, I’ll need a premium Netflix subscription because I’ll be laid up for a while. (Amazon Prime too. And Alexa.) Medical coverage that has no deductible. A Firehouse subs gift card. A self-driving Tesla. And someone to cut my cable cord because I do not want to see those highlights.
Can we clone Joe Thomas to play offensive line in front of me? Will I have in-his-prime Randy Moss on the receiving end? If we can do that, I’d consider. And since I’d be in the area, a postgame private meal cooked by Bay Area super-chef Hubert Keller would sweeten the deal.
You ever seen an NFL play up close? No? Put it this way: even executing a simple handoff is going to rip your arm out of the socket, my friend. So none of that for me. No, I’d request my paycheck for the game go straight to charity, and then I’m going to line up in the shotgun formation, take the snap, and fire three straight passes at Kyle Shanahan, all the while screaming YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS AGAINST THE PATRIOTS, KYLE! And then I’d get ground into powder by Luke Kuechly (or, more likely, my own O-line), but it’d be worth it. And I would claim my own personal rehab as the charity to which I’d be donating.
Heck yes, I’d play a series for the 49ers. Call three seven-step drops for all I care. Well worth the 39.6 passer rating that comes with three straight intentional groundings. My price: A measly roster spot all season. The NFL’s rookie minimum salary for 2017 is $465,000, and for that I would give Aaron Donald three good shots at me. Oh, and since John Lynch granted Peter King a spot in the 49ers’ draft war room this past weekend, I would assume that my signing bonus would come in the form of the tell-all book rights for the 2017 season. Sign me up. Talent-wise, I am basically like 31 percent as good as C.J. Beathard.
It depends. How much have I had to drink? What kind of horse tranquilizers can I access afterward? Honestly, I’d probably do it for 10 grand provided you give me some scout team work during the week. I’m tall enough to see over the line and I think I might even be able to complete one pass with the right play drawn up. That’d be enough to get a decent backup job somewhere else for the next few seasons, right?
There you have it. Weigh in with your own thoughts below. Got ideas for future questions? Email us and you might just find your name in lights. Now, get practicing; the 49ers could be calling any day.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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