Revisiting the Bears awful 2017 Draft

By Mike Fink
Apr. 13, 2020

The 2017 NFL Draft was one of the best in recent years. Many of the stars that are impacting today's game were taken in this class including Patrick Mahomes, Jamal Adams, Christian Mccaffrey just to list a few. Some teams even built the dominant forces through this class such as the Kansas City Chiefs, who used the talent they hauled from the 2017 draft to win Super Bowl 54. One team comes to mind for having an awful draft class while others thrived, for me this is the Chicago Bears. Da Bears (this will be the only time I refer to them as Da Bears) had an awful draft on multiple accounts and it could set them back years to come.

The first pick the Bears had was the number three pick in the draft. After a dismal 3-13 season and another Jay Cutler season that made it clear he wasn't the answer at quarterback, it became clear the Bears needed to draft the successor.

This is where the first mistake happened for the Bears. The Chicago Bears traded up one position in the draft to select the quarterback that they probably would have been able to land anyway at the third pick. It should be noted here that the Bears in the 2014 NFL Draft came one pick away from drafting All-Pro Defensive Tackle Aaron Donald and in the 2015 NFL Draft were one pick away from Leonard Williams (both players being significantly better than Corner Kyle Fuller and Wide Receiver Kevin White). In the 2016 NFL Draft, fearing that someone may take Edge Rusher Leonard Floyd, the Bears traded from the eleventh pick in the draft to the ninth to select the star from Georgia. With this in mind, it can be understood why the Bears would make a trade to move one position higher.

The first problem with this move was the surrendering of draft picks that the Bears ended up losing just to move up from pick three to pick two. The Bears lost two third round picks and a fourth round pick in the process. With many trades, the Bears ended up with only five picks in the 2017 class, leading to a lack of talent from this class by default.

To make matters worse, the players that were selected from the picks they traded ended up becoming Solomon Thomas (the player the 49ers were probably going to take at two anyway), Alvin Kamara, Tedric Thompson and Fred Warner oof. We know that the Bears probably wouldn't have taken those players anyway, but this displays only part of the problems of trading draft capital just to move up in the draft (the move works out occasionally but many times like this one comes at the risk of mortgaging the entire roster). Even if the Bears didn't want Alvin Kamara (they ended up selecting a running back anyway thus proving the need), the Bears would have been able to draft Cooper Kupp or Pat Elflein with the 67th pick (also needs on the roster, both in 2017 and currently).

The second problem with trading up one pick is who that pick ended up becoming. Mitch Trubisky. At this point, it's clear that Mitch Trubisky isn't nearly as good as Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, the other two quarterbacks that were taken in the first round. Ignoring that for now, the reason all along that the Bears traded picks was out of fear of another teams taking Trubisky at two. The Bears for one don't have some intel on a team taking Mitch Trubisky at two to be the team to panic and if another team did take Trubisky, they could just take the next quarterback on their draft board (inevitably being better than the quarterback they ended up selecting).

We wouldn't be looking at this pick as a bad one if they landed Patrick Mahomes but what makes this pick worse is the fact that they didn't land Mahomes, even the consolation of Deshaun Watson would have been good enough. To summarize the ultimate pain in the selection, the Bears took a player who they probably could've gotten at their original pick, gave a haul of talent up in the process and still managed to land the third best player at that position in that round who in may not even be a starter come this fall.

After going through all the terrible things that went wrong with just the first pick, it seems like we have enough material to declare this draft class already a bad one for Chicago. Make no mistake, the Bears continued the trend and made another terrible selection with their next pick. The Bears needed some offensive help to go alongside their presumed future franchise quarterback, the Bears selected tight end Adam Shaheen from Ashland college. To quote a Bears fan I knew at the time of the draft "We just took a tight end from a college I never even heard of..... and I know a lot of colleges. Why do the Bears do this every year? They overthink their pick and try to outsmart everyone."

Overthink may be a good way to summarize the Bears draft class, as seen with their first round pick. This comes at a whole new level. Every team looked to be selecting successful tight ends in the 2017 class. The Bears drafted the only tight end in the first three rounds that has managed to have fewer than 800 receiving yards in his first three seasons (Shaheen has 249). Drafting Adam Shaheen hurts more when you realize that they could have taken All-Pro George Kittle with that pick. I know that nobody thought George Kittle was going to be as good as he is and every team that selected a tight end before Kittle made a poor choice. I also know that Kittle didn't display the same dominance at Iowa that he does in San Francisco, but I will say this, I heard of the University of Iowa, I have only heard of Ashland from Adam Shaheen.

Even if the Bears didn't take a tight end this selection, there were plenty of need that needed to be addressed with the second round pick and taking a tight end didn't seem to fulfill any of them. Many teams don't see tight end as a glaring need and thus wait until later rounds to draft the position. Granted three tight ends were taken in the first round so we can see why the Bears might want to reach on a tight end. The Bears didn't finish the previous season 3-13 as a fluke, they were actually a bad team and had many positions they needed help with. The second round would have been a good opportunity for the Bears to draft and in hopes to find the next GRONK, they didn't address any of their needs.

The next two picks for the Bears ironically were the two best selections the team had in the entire draft. With two fourth round selections, the Bears ended up taking safety Eddie Jackson and running back Tarik Cohen. Jackson has been one of the best defenders on the Bears roster since being drafted and one of the best safeties in the NFL since entering the league. Tarik Cohen has been fun to watch and has been a highlight reel type player but unfortunately has proven that he is only a specialty kind of running back. Speed and elusiveness have given Cohen plenty of carries, but after his third season, Cohen has proven that he can't be an every down back and in all likelihood won't be re-signed when his contract expires.

The Bears final selection in the 2017 draft was a fifth round pick, guard Jordan Morgan from Kutztown (which I had to Google to confirm that it was a real town that had a real college). Morgan suffered the plight that many late round picks receive, he was cut during his first pre-season. Morgan never played a down in the NFL. I would give the Bears a pass on this pick being that many players at this point aren't expected to make an impact anyway on the roster. However, this is the second player that the Bears took from a college that I (and probably anyone reading this) have never heard of. Just to add insult to injury, the pick right before Morgan, pick 146, was All-Pro tight end George Kittle (it should be noted that Desmond King was taken four selections later adding to more of the unfortune of the Chicago Bears).

In 2018, the Bears traded two first round picks and a second round pick for Khalil Mack. Many were skeptic about the Bears risking the future for one star but ironically trading for Mack was probably safer for their future knowing how poorly they have drafted over the past few years. Now watch how the picks they gave the Raiders end up all becoming pro-bowlers and lead the Raiders to become the next great team in the NFL (it's the Raiders so I wouldn't worry so much).