Before you get up in arms about the title, let me make this clear: this is not an article proposing that the Bears should pick a quarterback in the 1st round of this year’s draft to replace Jay Cutler.
If the Bears take a quarterback at all, it will be with one of their later selections in the 4th, 5th, 6th, or even 7th rounds. No quarterback taken that late will challenge for a starting spot in year one. It will be a “project” type player who will have to pay his dues in practice and in the film room while patiently waiting for a starting shot down the rode a la Aaron Rodgers.
Though some Bears fans seem to believe Cutler has been given a “free pass” ever since he came to town in 2009, and that he hasn’t actually done anything to earn his job, Jay Cutler is going to be the starting quarterback for at least the next season.
Period. End of story.
The talent on the roster right now doesn’t provide any real competition. Jason Campbell looked like a lost puppy while he was under center last season. And I’m pretty sure Josh McCown’s only viable role on this team is to fill a roster spot and hold a clip board. He does a damn fine job of that, so let’s keep him where he is.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Cutler was a Pro Bowler in 2008. He aired it out for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Maybe too many of us are still ridding the coattails of that success and are foolishly putting stock in his “potential” that we’ve never fully seen yet. But I say we should withhold our judgment until he has a decent offensive line to work behind, and until we’ve seen what Marc Trestman can do with him.
That being said, Cutler isn’t getting any younger. 2013 will be his age 30 season in the NFL. He is on the back end of his prime years as an athlete, and unless you’re Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, it’s nearly impossible to maintain greatness into your late 30’s.
And other than age, he seems to have a growing number of Bears fans going against him as well. Like I mentioned earlier, they see him as an underperforming quarterback who continues to let the team down thanks in part to his poor decision making. His demeanor on (and off) the field doesn’t win too many fans over either.
The leash is getting shorter for Cutler. Even his strongest supporters will have no argument to make for him if he turns in one or two more sub-par seasons.
So even though the position is locked up now, it’s never a bad idea to plan for the future.
According to CBSSports.com, there are 9 quarterbacks who are slated to be picked between the 4th and 7th rounds of this year’s draft. The results from the NFL Combine will surely alter that number, and there’s a lot of time between Combine’s end and the NFL Draft on April 25th to help or hurt your draft stock.
But for now, we’ll go with the February projections. Out of those 9 late-round quarterback options, one name sticks out to me: Matt Scott, the 22-year-old Red Shirt Senior from Arizona.
Sorry, Collin Klein fans.
Standing at 6’2”, 202 lbs, Scott is the 10th ranked quarterback available in this year’s draft. His size is nothing special. Some may even consider him a bit undersized. But he may very well be the most athletic quarterback available in this year’s draft, and he is legitimate duel threat in the pocket.
Call it a gimmick if you’d like, but mobile quarterbacks seem to be the future of the NFL. A dominant pocket passer will still be the most coveted player in any draft, but RGIII, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrew Luck have helped to usher in a new era in the NFL. Having a running threat under center gives an offense a limitless amount of ways to assault a defense.
And Scott assaulted plenty of defenses with his legs in his days at Arizona. Over his four seasons, he racked up on 1138 yards and 8 touchdowns on 212 attempts. He did most of that damage in his senior year, when he rushed for 506 yards and 6 touchdowns on 113 attempts.
He may not have the most impressive straight line speed (he runs a 4.68 40-yard dash), but he knows how and when to use his legs. He did most of his damage on roll outs and designed bootlegs where he forced the defense to react and account for his running ability.
While he’s a good runner, he also has a pocket presence. Again, Scott may not have the flashiest numbers, but in 12 starts in his senior year he posted 3,620 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. His 499 attempts ranked 10th in all of Division 1, and he ended with a 60.3% completion percentage.
Scott produces at an above average level in both facets of his game, and he already has a solid base of fundamentals to build upon. By all accounts, his throwing mechanics are impeccable, which is not something you always hear with prospects at this level.
His dropbacks are smooth, his release is quick, and his spirals are extremely tight. He has the arm strength and velocity to make any throw on the field, and his accuracy doesn’t drop too much when he’s on the run.
Besides his arm strength, his accuracy is top notch. Scouts rave about his ability to place the ball in optimal spots for receivers to gain yards after the catch. He can loft the deep balls to hit his receivers in stride, or he can hit small windows on short slants and crossing patterns.
That was essentially a long winded version of saying “Matt Scott is pretty good at everything.” Running ability, arm strength, and accuracy. Check, check, and double check.
The only knocks on Scott would be his relative inexperience and his body type. Even as a Red Shirt Senior, he only has 17 collegiate starts to his credit. And his leaner build may make him susceptible to injury given his tendencies to run. He may be tough (he came back into a game against Utah after being knocked out of the game with what was later diagnosed as a concussion), but no quarterback can afford to consistently take those big hits.
But in my opinion, Scott would be the optimal choice for the Bears if they are to go with a quarterback in this draft. The Bears have the 20th pick in the 4th and 5th round, and he is projected to go anywhere within that range. If he’s available, I’d have zero problems with the Bears making him their 4th round pick.
That way, the offensive line and linebacker positions can be taken care of in rounds one and two, and Trestman can also get a young, fundamentally sound quarterback to groom into the starter of the future.
If the stars align perfectly for Scott, he could potentially be the starter for the Bears in about three year’s time. This is assuming Jay Cutler takes a short term contract extension (which is a topic for another day) and leaves after playing that out.
By that time, Scott will be 26 years old and will have had three full years of Trestman’s expert guidance under his belt. The key is his ability to keep improving on his already impressive skill set. If he can do so, the Bears would have their first bona fide dual threat quarterback in franchise history.
Do you think the Bears should draft a quarterback in the late rounds this year? If so, do you think is should be Scott, or someone else? Does my scenario sound too good to be true?
Take a look at Matt Scott in action in this highlight video from Arizona’s upset victory over #9 USC last season:
Matt Scott Highlights
(Scott’s Stats for the game: 27-50, 369 Yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 100 Rush Yards, 1 Rush TD)