The biggest knock against Mitchell Trubisky is that he only started for one season at North Carolina.
While what Trubisky did in his one year as a starter was impressive, the lack of playing time is big concern for some teams.
Longtime personnel guru Gil Brandt says ideally, incoming NFL quarterbacks should have about 30 college starts.
Trubisky only has 13.
At North Carolina, he redshirted in 2013, then was a back-up to Marquise Williams during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, before landing the starting job during his junior year last season.
Trubisky did have an impressive 2016 season for the Tar Heels – setting several school records, completing 68.2 percent of his passes and throwing 30 touchdowns with just six interceptions.
“He’s got an NFL skill set in terms of arm, technique,” said Rick Venturi, a former NFL coach turned media analyst. “He can move. Real smart kid.
“But he’s played one season, and it showed in certain games situationally. He’s not really ready. He really needed another year of football, but it’s not there.”
However, Trubisky could end up being the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft, which means he could very well go in the top 10 if not No. 1 overall to Cleveland Browns, who are reportedly considering using the top pick on the quarterback or Texas A&M’s defensive end Myles Garrett.
In a quarterback class filled with question marks, Trubisky’s lack of starts at the college level raises the question of, how NFL-ready is he.
Jon Gruden opined in an ESPN Insider story that Trubisky’s 13 starts make him “a one-hit wonder with an incomplete body of work, to say the least.”
“It’s hard when you have only one year of tape,” Gruden wrote after Trubisky was one of the participants in his quarterback camp. “It would have been great to see Trubisky stay at North Carolina and win an ACC championship.”
By the time the NFL scouting combine took place, Trubisky was well-versed in answering questions about jumping to the NFL after just one season as a starter.
He points out that he actually played in 30 college games, coming off the bench to throw 125 passes in the two seasons he backed up Williams. He talks about the good coaching he received from Tar Heels QBs coach Keith Heckendorf.
“I’m a student of the game, and I’ve seen a lot of defenses, and I think that’s going to help me,” Trubisky said. “
Trubisky said he tried to compensate for his overall lack of playing time in college by working after practice with receivers, throwing a lot in the summer, watching extra film.
“Nobody watched more film than I did in college,” he said.
But instead of learning from his mistakes on the field, he had to learn from watching Williams’ mistakes on film — at least prior to his breakout 2016 campaign.
And there’s a difference.
If playing in a spread offense, rarely lining up under center, and not calling plays in a huddle didn’t make for a big enough adjustment in the NFL, Trubisky also must bridge the experience gap.
While Trubisky may think he’s seen a lot of defenses, it will be nothing like the array of fronts and coverages he’ll get in the NFL.
ESPN’s Merril Hoge said he worries that if Trubisky becomes a first-round pick, he will be forced on the field before he’s ready — and “it’s gonna be a train wreck.” Hoge said Trubisky needs a minimum two years of seasoning.
“What troubles me more, bothers me more, and I still can’t figure out: Why did you come out?” Hoge said. “People may go, because the QB class is so bad. That’s fine, but eventually you gotta play. And if you can’t play, you get exposed, and therefore you don’t play very long.”
Trubisky disagrees with all his doubters.