Winston is considered the best quarterback in this year’s draft and most believe he’ll be selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So why are the Bears bringing him in?
Bears brass are doing their homework on every potential Top 10 pick in this year’s draft, regardless of position. According to our Draft Prospect Tracker, the club has met with all but one legitimate Top 10 candidate, USC DT Lenord Williams.
GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox are doing their due diligence and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the seventh overall pick in the draft. So bringing in Winston is likely little more than a final look at a player who could potentially land in their lap in the first round.
Does that mean the Bears like Winston enough to trade up for him? Not a chance.
Winston is the best quarterback in a weak draft for the position. He also brings with him considerable off-field baggage, which includes allegations of rape.
The Bears aren’t going to mortgage their future for an over-hyped quarterback who will bring the circus with him to the Windy City.
It’s no secret that Jay Cutler is on borrowed time in Chicago. Unless he miraculously turns his career around and becomes a consistent passer next season, the odds of him sticking around beyond 2016 are slim to none.
So it makes sense for the Bears to investigate quarterbacks in this year’s draft class, players who might be able to replace Cutler down the line. Along with Mariota and Winston, the team has also met with Baylor’s Bryce Petty, a potential third-round passer.
In addition, Fox and Pace pursued Josh McCown this offseason, so there’s obviously a desire on their part to beef up the position.
Yet don’t make too much of the meeting with Winston tomorrow. This is an information-gathering visit and little else. He’s highly unlikely to drop to 7th overall but if he does, the Bears must have their ducks in a row in order to properly evaluate him as a candidate with that first-round pick.
Finally, don’t forget that we are in the heart of lying season. More misinformation is disseminated in the month leading up to the draft than the rest of the season combined.
It’s possible the Bears, who have numerous roster holes much larger than quarterback, want to give the appearance they are interested in Winston or Mariota. In that way, another QB-desperate team might be compelled to trade up for one of them, and thus push back the legitimate Top 10 talent.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.