The Chicago Bears traded up a spot to select former North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Bears were originally set to pick third overall Thursday, but made a deal with the San Francisco 49ers to move up a spot. In return, the 49ers receive the third overall pick, the 67th and 111th picks in the 2017 draft, and a 2018 third-round selection.
Chicago’s decision to take the Tar Heels quarterback comes as something of a surprise considering the Bears signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers pivot Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45-million contract in the offseason.
“As an organization, we had conviction on this quarterback and his special attributes and we did what we had to do to get him,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said Thursday night. “His potential to be a championship quarterback is all we focused on in this move. We feel we have the perfect environment for his development.
“In regards to Mike Glennon, Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback. There’s no quarterback competition when Mitch gets here. Glennon is our starting quarterback.”
Pace, who surrendered picks 3, 67, 111 and next year’s third-rounder to San Francisco, said he felt pressure to take Trubisky before another quarterback-needy team beat him to it. Pace, however, could not confirm if the 49ers had another trade offer on the table for No. 2.
“We have a lot of feelers out there and you’re kind of feeling the situation out and I didn’t want to sit on our hands and have some team jump us or not work out when we were this close, within reach, of a player that we all really valued,” Pace said. “I didn’t want to sit on our hands and risk not getting that player.”
Despite the fact he only started one season with North Carolina, Trubisky possesses all the skills needed to be a star quarterback in the league. The 6-foot-2, 222-pounder will likely spend the 2017 season behind Glennon on the depth chart, allowing him to learn the NFL game before being thrust into the starter’s role.
“I’m going to come in and learn as much as I can from Mike,” he said. “I’m always going to compete and do my thing. Push the guy in front of me. When I get my opportunity, I look forward to taking full advantage of it.
“I think I’ve had great experience starting 13 games, playing in 30, been around a lot of football. I’m only scratching the surface. Sky is the limit.”
Trubisky said after his selection that he had no idea the swap with San Francisco was happening and that he did not get a call to alert him to his selection.
“I didn’t think I was going to get picked until the commish made the call,” he said. “It was crazy. It’s a dream come true. It’s as surreal as it gets.”
The Bears had a clear need at quarterback after they released Jay Cutler, but most expected them to wait to address the position through the draft. Glennon is scheduled to earn $16 million guaranteed in 2017, and the organization refused to put any timeline on when Trubisky will be ready to play.
Pace, though, defended the aggressive nature of his selection.
“I hope everybody’s excited about it,” he said. “The most important position in all of sports is quarterback, and I don’t think you’re ever a great team until you address the position and you address it right. I think everybody should respect that. We’re addressing the quarterback position. We’re being aggressive with that position because it’s the most important position in sports.”