One of the most polarizing players in the NFL is Jay Cutler. The Chicago Bears QB is one of those guys that you either love or hate. Cutler is tough and has a rocket arm but his demeanor turns a lot of fans off. He came into the league in 2006 as one of the top three QBs in the 2005 draft. The other two, Matt Leinart and Vince Young have long since washed out of the NFL.
Cutler was an unheralded recruit coming out of high school. He was recruited by most schools as a safety but chose to play at Vanderbilt because they wanted him to play QB. It’s tough to win at Vandy, playing against SEC juggernauts each Saturday but Cutler managed to hold his own and lead the Commodores to big wins over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee during his time in Nashville. He was picked at #11 by the Broncos in the first round of the 2006 draft after they traded up to get him sight unseen. Denver didn’t really talk to Cutler leading up to the draft but once they saw he was still there at #11 they had to go get him.
The Broncos traded Cutler before the 2009 draft when new coach Josh McDaniels wanted to go in a different direction despite going to the Pro Bowl the year before. In 2010 Cutler led the Bears to the NFC Championship Game but suffered an injury and pulled himself from the game at halftime. Critics were livid since Cutler looked fine on the sidelines. An MRI the next day showed a sprained MCL but the damage was already done, Cutler was thought to be a quitter and a guy who didn’t care about his team. That stigma has stuck with him ever since.
Cutler has had some good years in Chicago but he’s played for five offensive coordinators and behind a bad offensive line for the past few years and can’t stay healthy. Despite his bad luck Cutler is the winningest quarterback in Bears history. Last season he passed for 3,629 yards, 21 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions.
In 2014 Cutler signed a seven year contract that’s worth $126 million. In 2016 he’s scheduled to make $16 million with a million dollar roster bonus so he isn’t going anywhere this year but the Bears need a dependable backup that they could groom for the future. Picking at #11 in the first round Chicago will probably go after help on the defensive side of the ball but don’t be surprised if they draft a QB in the 3rd or 4th round.
Dak Prescott blew up during the Senior Bowl and is a guy who will be there in the third round if the Bears want an exciting prospect at quarterback. Prescott lit up the SEC the last two years and actually threw for over 300 yards on Alabama’s defense last year. He’s drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow and Dak Prescott with his big arm and defensive lineman’s build. If the Bears drafted Prescott he’d be a guy to sit behind Cutler fora year or two before taking over the reigns when they part ways with him.
Another intriguing prospect is Christian Hackenburg, who ironically enough has drawn comparisons to Cutler. Hackenburg was the man at Penn State as a freshman but has seen his numbers take a hit under new coach James Franklin. NCAA sanctions also put a hurting on Hackenburg as the team lost scholarships and it showed in the depth of the offensive line that couldn’t keep him upright. The former Nittany Lion faltered his sophomore and junior year in Happy Valley but still showed flashes of what he can do in a near upset of Ohio State in 2014. His draft stock is on the decline but Hackenburg will be around in the third or fourth round and is a guy who has the potential to flourish in Chicago.
The Bears won’t be taking a QB early but they will get one somewhere in day two or three of the draft. Cutler probably won’t stay healthy and Chicago has to get ready for the future.