Heir apparent for Cutler?

Bears don't need developmental QB, they need high pick they can develop — quickly

The Bears should not be looking for a developmental quarterback in April's NFL draft.

They should be looking for a quarterback who could become a starter within a year.

This could be the opportunity for the Bears to draft a quarterback in the early rounds, maybe the second or third.

For that to happen, the Bears will need to trade down from their 20th spot in the first round and acquire a selection in either of those rounds. General manager Phil Emery already has made it clear he is interested in doing so.

It has become increasingly evident the Bears are not about to extend the expiring contract of Jay Cutler.

This is a smart move, as would beginning the process of finding his replacement, should that become necessary.

If Cutler plays as he is capable, he can stop renting and buy instead. Giving him a rich contract will be all good.

Just because you have a succession plan in place does not mean you have to execute it. At the very least, a promising young quarterback on the roster will have trade value.

But if Cutler again does not play up to expectations, the Bears will be in a tough spot if they don't have his replacement handy.

They probably will have to overpay — either in trade or financial compensation — to acquire another veteran who wasn't good enough to start on his previous team. And it's not likely they will have a variety of appealing options.

At quarterback, more than any other position, teams want to be dealing from strength.

The Bears can — if they hit on the right rookie.

A lot teams are going to shy away from quarterbacks in April because comparing the 2013 class to the 2012 class that featured Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson is like comparing low-rent properties to Gold Coast buildings.

That is precisely why it might be a good year for the Bears to go against the crowd and draft one. Some quarterbacks with potential could slide and become value picks.

In recent years, the second-through-fourth rounds have been a sweet spot for such quarterbacks. Among those who have been taken in that range are Wilson (2012 third round), Kirk Cousins (2012 fourth round), Andy Dalton (2011 second round) and Colin Kaepernick (2011 second round).

It could be a sweet spot again this year.

Five quarterbacks could go in that range with Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse, Mike Glennon of North Carolina State, E.J. Manuel of Florida State and Landry Jones of Oklahoma all showing ample potential.

Each of them have perceived deficiencies that likely will preclude them from being first-round picks. But they all have qualities intriguing to scouts worth their tape measures.

In 2012, Wilson wasn't the quarterback he was in 2011 when he had Bobby Petrino coaching him. Some wonder if he was the product of a system, but others think his ability to make good decisions and get rid of the ball give him a chance.

One front office man compares Nassib to Cousins. His decision-making is suspect, but Nassib is smart and has decent athletic skills.

 

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