The Chicago Bears Are Not Great at Drafting Quarterbacks in the 1st Round

Every QB drafted in the 1st Round by the Bears since 1967.

Jameson Steward
3 min readApr 22, 2024
Image from Canva.

This might come as a shock to some of you — but the Bears have struggled with drafting a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft.

They’ve done it six times leading up to the 2024 NFL draft, and the results have been…let’s just say, not great.

Not terrible, but not great.

Jim McMahon — 5th Overall (1982).

Thanks to the 1985 Bears’ defense and rushing attack, Jim McMahon is probably the best quarterback on this list.

McMahon played for the Bears from 1982 through 1988. His record with the Bears was 46–15 during the team’s glory days of the 1980s.

Not a bad quarterback — but certainly Jim McMahon was never a great quarterback in the NFL.

Jim Harbaugh — 26th Overall (1987).

Jim Harbaugh is the quarterback who took over after Jim McMahon. Harbaugh’s passing stats are similar to McMahon’s, but Harbaugh wasn’t as mobile.

Harbaugh’s record with the Bears included some good seasons from 1988 through 1993, finishing with a 35–30 record.

Once again, Jim Harbaugh wasn’t a bad NFL quarterback — he might even be the best passer on this list. But he had the misfortune of taking over as the starting quarterback for a declining Bears franchise.

Cade McNown — 12th Overall (1999).

Cade McNown is easily the biggest bust on this list. You may not even have remembered his name.

McNown’s record with the Bears was 3–12 from 1999 through 2000. After the 2000 season, McNown never played in the NFL again.

Rex Grossman — 22nd Overall (2003).

Rex Grossman may be the most interesting quarterback on this list — because he was mostly a backup during his career. But his one season (2006) as the full-time starter for the Bears, the team went to the Super Bowl and lost 29–16 to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts.

Grossman went 19–12 as the starting quarterback in Chicago from 2003 through 2008. Grossman’s tendency to throw interceptions was a big reason why he was mostly viewed as the backup during his career.

Mitchell Trubisky — 2nd Overall (2017).

Mitchell Trubisky was the first quarterback taken in a draft that also saw Patrick Mahomes (10th overall) and Deshaun Watson (12th overall) go in the first round.

Once again, Trubisky was not a terrible quarterback — he just wasn’t great. His record as the starting quarterback in Chicago from 2017 through 2020 was 29–21.

Trubisky has become a backup in the NFL who’s hoping for just one more shot at a starting job.

Justin Fields — 11th Overall (2021).

Justin Fields is probably the most talented quarterback on this list — certainly, he was the most dynamic scrambler.

The theme continues — Fields was not a terrible NFL quarterback, and he still has time to develop into a good NFL quarterback. But Fields had the misfortune of playing on some very bad Chicago Bears teams in a time when patience is non-existent in the NFL.

Fields’ record in Chicago was 10–28 from 2021 through 2023. Now he gets a fresh start in Pittsburgh to see what he can do there.

Will Caleb Williams be the first “star” quarterback drafted by the Bears?

Or will he be another quarterback drafted by the Bears in the first round that just wasn’t quite good enough?

We will see.

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