By Charlie Campbell
Summary: Entering the 2016 season, there was buzz around Trubisky as a NFL talent even though he spent his first two seasons as a backup quarterback and made zero starts for the Tar Heels. The junior quickly validated the talk of him being a pro prospect by leading North Carolina to some tough wins in 2016, including three straight early season games in which he threw for over 400 yards without throwing a single interception. That put Trubisky firmly on the map for NFL scouts during the fall, and after some deliberation, Trubisky decided to skip his senior year. The junior completed 69 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also scored three rushing touchdowns.
There are a lot of strengths to Trubisky’s game as he has a good skill set for the NFL. The No. 1 attribute for any successful quarterback in the NFL is accuracy, which is a strength for Trubisky. He has good ball placement, is able to beat tight coverage by firing the ball precisely into tight windows, and throws his receivers open. Trubisky throws a very catchable ball, and it is rare to see him miss by being too high or too low. His deep ball accuracy could stand to improve some, but that could come with more experience. Overall, his accuracy is impressive and leads one to think that he has a chance to be make it as a NFL quarterback.
Aside from his accuracy, Trubisky has other good traits. He flashes field vision to move his eyes through progressions. He can have good pocket presence and works with an internal clock that feels the rush. Trubisky is a good athlete with the mobility to scramble and pick up yards on the ground. He won’t be a running quarterback in the NFL, but he has enough mobility to help him extend plays and pick up some first downs on the ground. Trubisky has a plus arm with consistent mechanics, too. He also showed the intangibles to push his team to wins late in games in close contests at times.
Considering Trubisky’s lack of starting experience, it isn’t surprising that he has some flaws to fix and some raw elements to his game. Trubisky can be inconsistent with his decision-making and field vision. That could be seen in games against Virginia Tech and Stanford in 2016. He also can get rattled by the pass rush at times, yet other times he shows nice composure. The NFL is going to send a lot of blitzes his direction, so improving his blitz recognition and decision-making will be something that Trubisky must do as a pro.
Trubisky worked out of the shotgun at North Carolina, so he is going to need a lot of work on learning to be under center and taking drops. He will have to improve his footwork and also work on calling plays in the huddle. Trubisky made a living off play-action in a lot of run-pass option plays and a lot of wide receiver screens in his college spread offense, so he is going to need to transition to a pro-style system. Trubisky would be a good fit in a west coast offense.
During the course of the history of the NFL, there have been very few good NFL quarterbacks who entered the league with only one year of starting experience in college. Thus, the historical odds say that Trubisky is not likely to pan out. Of course there are exceptions like Tom Brady and Cam Newton, but they are few and far between as most quarterbacks with that little experience have not panned out. Bill Parcells had a philosophy of wanting 3-year starters or players who had 30 starts in college as they have a lot more playing experience facing live fire while also handling the ups and downs of leading a program. So from an experience standpoint, Trubisky is very much a buyer-beware prospect.
In the 2017 NFL Draft, Trubisky is the favorite to be the first quarterback selected. Some team sources see him as a second-round talent, while others have him in Round 1. While he isn’t a true top-of-the-draft talent at quarterback like an Andrew Luck or Jameis Winston, Trubisky will probably go high in the first round because of teams desperate to find a franchise quarterback.
Player Comparison: Ryan Tannehill. Trubisky’s style of play reminds me of Tannehill in that bother are accurate and precise passers in the short to intermediate part of the field. They also both use mobility and athleticism to their advantage. Tannehill entered the NFL with less experience than most quarterback prospects, just like Trubisky. They both have some flaws, which make them good, but not elite, quarterbacks. In the 2012 NFL Draft, Tannehill went as a top-10 pick, and Trubisky could go in the top half of the first round.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Buffalo, New Orleans, Arizona, Houston, New York Giants and Pittsburgh
There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams in the NFL, and that will help Trubisky to be selected early in the 2017 NFL Draft. Obviously, the Browns are in dire need of a solution to their quarterback quandary. Cleveland also is loaded with draft picks, including two in the first round, two in the second and one in the third. Trubisky could be in play for the Browns with their second first-round pick. They also could consider trading up from No. 33 if they take other players at No. 1 and No. 12. Cleveland has plenty of ammo to move back into the first round and a lot of teams want to trade down.
The 49ers are also desperate for a starting quarterback and a face of the franchise. Trubisky could fit nicely in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Chicago moved on from Jay Cutler this offseason, and there have been rumors that the Bears really love Trubisky. Both the 49ers and Bears could consider trading back into the first round for Trubisky if he slides.
The Bills have Tyrod Taylor returning, but he may not be the long-term starting quarterback for them. If Buffalo takes Trubisky at No. 10, he could be developed behind Taylor for a year.
Houston needs a new quarterback, and if Trubisky slides, the Texans could end his fall.
The Saints, Chargers, Chiefs, Giants and Steelers all fall into the category of teams that have aging starting quarterbacks. Each one could consider drafting Trubisky and developing him with hopes that he could be the heir apparent.
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