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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Bears draft preview: Quarterbacks

By Michael C. Wright

Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck, who is expected to be the first overall pick of the draft by the Colts, likely will make his NFL debut against the Bears in Week 1.
The Chicago Bears believe they have remedied roster deficiencies at backup quarterback by re-signing veteran Josh McCown and acquiring Jason Campbell through free agency to back up Jay Cutler.

With four signal callers on the current roster, the prospect of adding a quarterback in the NFL draft seems remote. So don’t expect the Bears to go down that path. In fact, it’s not even likely the team will add a proverbial camp arm.

“We feel real good about our quarterback position now,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said.

That certainly wasn’t the sentiment toward the end of 2011, when ineptitude behind Cutler derailed what should have been a playoff season. After starting 7-3 with Cutler at the helm, the Bears lost five of six down the stretch when the quarterback suffered a season-ending thumb injury in a Nov. 20 win over the San Diego Chargers.

Smartly, the Bears leaned on hard lessons from last season in opting to take experience over youth when they brought aboard Campbell and re-signed McCown.

“Each year you learn something,” Smith said.

In 2012, it won’t be a new or inexperienced backup quarterback.

The next 10: 11. Kellen Moore, Boise State, 6-0, 197; 12. B.J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 6-3, 234; 13. Case Keenum, Houston, 6-1, 208; 14. Austin Davis, Southern Mississippi, 6-2, 219; 15. Darron Thomas, Oregon, 6-3, 220; 16. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa, 6-1, 234; 17. Aaron Corp, Richmond, 6-4, 215; 18. Tyler Hansen, Colorado, 6-1, 222; 19. Patrick Witt, Yale, 6-4, 225; 20. Jacory Harris, Miami, 6-3, 203.

Position grade: A.

Analysis: It’s anticipated that teams will take quarterbacks with the first and second picks for the first time since 1999, Cleveland and Philadelphia selected Tim Couch and Donovan McNabb at No. 1 and No. 2. Obviously everyone knows how the careers of Couch and McNabb widely differed, but Luck and Griffin III appear poised to enjoy successful careers. The new rookie salary structure makes it much more advantageous than in years past to take a gamble on a quarterback early. So there’s a good chance this class of quarterbacks could produce a few starters. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicts that five or six quarterbacks could be off the board by the end of the second round.