Are Bears peering into their QB future?
MOBILE, ALA.— Action shots of Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz hang from lamp posts and are plastered on hotel entrances and in storefronts across the city promoting the Senior Bowl.
Boy, what the Bears would do to see a Prescott or Wentz in action Saturday at LaddPeebles Stadium.
Unfortunately, there’s definitely not a passer of Wentz’s stature in the game a year after he went from the Senior Bowl to becoming the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft. It’s hard to say if there is a Prescott either. He was the MVP of the 2016 game, but anyone who tries telling you Prescott’s Senior Bowl week vaulted his draft status forgets he lasted until the end of the fourth round and the 135th pick when the Cowboys, who coached in the game, chose him after failing to land Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook earlier.
The quarterback class looks as weak as it gets for this game, reminiscent of two years ago when Bryce Petty was the top passer. The good news is the two prospects generating the most conversations are on the North squad the Bears are coaching: Pitt’s Nate Peterman and Iowa’s C.J. Beathard.
That provides general manager Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains some additional insight in the pre-draft process.
“The thing that jumps right off the bat is their ability to process this information and go through the progressions,” Loggains said. “And there haven’t been a lot of busts. We’re still in the process of figuring these guys out.”
Peterman threw for 2,855 yards this season with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and the week after Pace saw him have a rough game in a loss at Miami, he threw five touchdown passes to lead the Panthers to a 43-42 upset of eventual national champion Clemson.
Since the end of the college season, he has worked with quarterbacks coach Ken Mas- trole, who was with the Bears during training camp in 2002.
“I don’t want to call him a safe pick, but he’s a guy you draft and he’s not going to be the guy you go, ‘Why is he on the roster?’ ” Mastrole said. “He has the ability to win games and not just be a guy out there to fill a void.”
Beathard had a 21-7 record as a starter for the Hawkeyes. He understands protections, run checks and pre-snap reads, and he’s still garnering attention even though his statistics took a dip in his senior season when his yards per attempt dropped from 7.8 to 6.4 and he doubled his interceptions from five to 10 while throwing for nearly 900 fewer yards.
“It was a combination of a lot of things,” Beathard said. “Our leading receiver [Matt VandeBerg] got hurt early in the year. Our best tight end [George Kittle] got hurt as well. We were doing the same stuff we always do. We are a pro-style team that likes to run the ball and we do what we think is going to help us win games. Our offense really prepared me to take the next step.”