By Chris Emma-
(CBS) In search of a franchise quarterback, the Bears will have one more option from which to choose.
Mitch Trubisky, a standout at North Carolina, declared for the 2017 NFL Draft on Monday in a column in The Players’ Tribune, where he touched on his time leading the Tar Heels and the difficulty of his decision.
“After a lot of prayer and thought, I have decided to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft,” Trubisky wrote. “This has been the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But no matter what happens next, I know I’ll never experience something as special as being a Tar Heel.”
The 22-year-old Trubisky is viewed as one of the top quarterback prospects available in the field, joining the likes of Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Miami’s Brad Kaaya.
A native of Mentor, Ohio, Trubisky was named Mr. Football in the state back in his senior season of 2013 and was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, which was won by Watson this season.
Trubisky has been touted for his strong arm, quick feet and pocket awareness. However, he’s played just this junior season as North Carolina’s full-time starting quarterback, completing 68.2 percent of his passes, throwing for 3,748 yards and 30 touchdowns to six interceptions.
The Bears are positioned to pick third in the draft, with the quarterback-needy Browns and 49ers ahead of them. There has yet to be any consensus as to which quarterback is considered the best. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett — largely considered to be the top player in the class — and Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen are also considered players who could go in the top three of the draft.
During this critical offseason, it’s expected that the Bears will cut ties with eight-year starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who has been paid the entirety of his $54 million guaranteed of a seven-year, $126.7 million deal inked in January 2014. He can be released without owed money if the Bears are unable to move him through a trade.
The Bears could move forward with a bridge quarterback — likely backup Brian Hoyer — and one other reserve quarterback while developing their future quarterback. Trade possibilities loom, too, with Patriots backup and Arlington Heights native Jimmy Garoppolo perhaps being moved to the top bidder.
Should the Bears look to the draft, Trubisky will be among the choices available after making his declaration known.
“Going to the NFL has been my goal ever since I was a little boy,” he wrote. “And now that I have that chance, I’m incredibly excited.”