The obvious trend among college quarterbacks coming into the NFL is toward mobility.
Running quarterbacks rate higher now because of the opportunity for better offensive red-zone production. A short scramble means an easy touchdown, one of the theories goes. All of this fails to explain Mitchell Trubisky.
Still, the trend is undeniable and throughout the current search by the Bears for a possible quarterback in the draft there has been an underlying tone on social media among their fans—they look down their noses at quarterbacks who can't run.
So quarterbacks like BYU's Zach Wilson, Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance curry favor with fandom while players like Alabama's Mac Jones and Florida's Kyle Trask are treated like unwanted nuisances.
That's not the case with coach Matt Nagy and his staff. The position still is one where throwing means far more.
It's laughable that any Bears fan would want a quarterback just because he's a better runner. The team has had nothing but runners without a passer for countless decades and now with a quarterback search on they demand trading up to get one of the top four because they all can run. Pathetic.
Apparently the fan base has grown too young. They forget or know nothing of Bobby Douglass and Vince Evans.
So the coaches have been doing their due diligence, visiting pro days for all capable passers whether they are statues or otherwise.
"You don't have to be running all over the field, but have some movement," coach Matt Nagy said as the free agency period was about to unfold. "Great, if you don't, we'll work around that."
Nagy's ideal quarterback definitely does not stress movement, even if their pursuit of Russell Wilson says otherwise.
"I'd say leadership, decision-making and if you have some versatility as a quarterback with your legs, great, if you don't, no problem," Nagy said. "We can work around it."
They worked around it with Nick Foles and Andy Dalton poses a similar challenge, although he is somewhat more mobile than Foles.
During this past week the Bears visited pro days for two quarterbacks who probably won't win footraces but are leaders/throws who are at least able to move around in the pocket. Stanford's Davis Mills and SMU's Shane Buechele had their attention.
Davis Mills' Rising Stock
Scouts seem a bit torn on Mills' ability, but FanNation's NFL Draft Bible has him so highly graded that they feel he should be drafted before Kyle Trask. They've assigned him a second-round grade as the sixth-best quarterback just behind Jones. The Bears sent quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo out, among others, to assess Mills.
Mills is very aware of a knock on his lack of mobility compared to the top four QBs.
"I think obviously I can run if I need to, but I feel like to have the most success I'm going to get the ball to my playmakers out in space rather than myself," Mills said on his pro day Zoom conference call. "But if I need to run or move around in the pocket, I'm athletic enough to do so."
Some scouting reports have compared him to Matt Ryan, especially regarding the ability to deliver under a heavy rush. Whether this is accurate or not depends on the scout but he does have admirable traits.
"Mills plays with a fearless demeanor, staring down the barrel without a flinch. He has some of the most impressive touch down the field in the entire 2021 NFL Draft, dropping some excellent bucket throws outside the numbers," NFL Draft Bible said in assessing Mills.
Mills, who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, has a huge question mark attached beyond a lack of great speed and athleticism. It's one to concern Bears fans especially after the failed Trubisky expeirence. He hasn't played much.
Mills has been in only 14 games and 11 starts. He's made fewer starts than Trubisky made at North Carolina, but at least he has been a starter over a two-year period. He went 287 of 438 for 3,468 yards with 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions and averaged 7.9 yards an attempt.
For a quarterback who wasn't supposed to be real mobile, he sure looked different at his pro day. Mills turned in efforts of 4.58 and 4.66 seconds for the 40-yard dash.
"A lot of pressure on Davis Mills with a limited number of starts, no combine, no all-star game opportunities, this was his one shot, and I thought he crushed it," NFL Network's draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said of Mills.
Son of the former Cub
Buechele is more of a long-term project for a team and regarded by NFL Draft Bible as an undrafted free agent possibility. A total of 29 NFL teams watched his workout on Thursday.
The Bears were among them but their interest in him would be a bit curious because his coach at Texas was Tom Herman, the new Bears senior offensive assistant. And Buechele became disenchanted with his plight at Texas after Sam Ehlinger replaced him in 2018 as starter, partly because he had more mobility. Some had also questioned his ability to throw on the run.
"There's kind of a harp on arm strength and throwing on the run," Buechele said during his pro day Zoom interview. "And so those are two things that I've wanted to show and I definitely showed that today in the pro day."
Buechele is the son of former Cubs player Steve Buechele and his size and speed as a runner have both been questioned, as well as his arm strength. He is 6-1, 217.
Buechele threw for 7,024 yards in two seasons at SMU after leaving Texas, where he'd thrown for 4,636 yards in three seasons. He's been working with Trevor Lawrence under tutor Jordan Palmer and has been trying to benefit from watching some of the game's better quarterbacks, even if mobility and arm strength remain a question.
"I've watched a lot of Drew Brees and I've watched a lot of Russell Wilson and then also Tom Brady, those guys," Buechele said in his Zoom interview. "I try to take a couple little things from those guys, just movement stuff and then also how they carry themselves."
On Friday the Bears will no doubt do their due diligence and attend the BYU pro day workout of Wilson, a more mobile passer they'll have virtually no shot at drafting.