(CBS) The NFL world was left stunned when the Bears traded up to the second overall pick and selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky last Thursday.
Trubisky had started just one season at North Carolina, throwing for 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. Bears general manager Ryan Pace was confident in his convictions of Trubisky, believing he has found the team a franchise quarterback.
Pace saw what the Tar Heels got to know of Trubisky each day in practice. North Carolina coach Larry Fedora and quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf are both in agreement that the Bears may have something special.
“Mitch can be the quarterback of the future there,” Fedora said on the Mully & Hanley Show last Friday. ‘”He can go on to lead the Bears to great things, I really think he can. He’s a guy that as he develops in the league and learns how to become a professional athlete, he can do tremendous things there.”
Heckendorf worked closely with Trubisky as his position coach, seeing the development first-hand. He spoke with the Spiegel & Parkins Show on Friday.
“They’re getting a great person, first and foremost, but they’re also getting a great competitor,” Heckendorf said. “The Chicago Bears fan base will be very pleased with the guy they’re getting. In time, he’s going to prove that to everybody.
Trubisky’s accuracy became a revelation at North Carolina practices. Fedora said that Trubisky is the most accurate quarterback he has coached in 30 years. Heckendorf was often left trying to remind Trubisky’s teammates that incompletions happen. Trubisky completed 68.2 percent of his passes in 2016.
“He’s been the best one I’ve ever coached,” Heckendorf said. “What stands out is his accuracy. That’s something we saw day in and day out. He created an atmosphere at Carolina where if he threw an incompletion or had an overthrow in practice, everyone was looking around going, ‘What the heck is wrong with Mitch today?’ And I’m going, ‘Dude, that’s one incompletion.’
“But that’s what he did. He did it day in and day out. I don’t think anybody was surprised from that aspect of it. It’s one of the top qualities that he has. It’s one of those things that translates so well to the next level, is the ability to throw the ball where he wants it.”
The greatest question with Trubisky is how his game can translate to the next level after just one season as a starting quarterback. Trubisky’s limited experience wasn’t due to his own issues; rather, the Tar Heels opted to start senior Marquise Williams instead in 2015.
“We had an established starter, a guy that had done good things,” Fedora said. “We had great chemistry on our team. That kid went on to lead us to the conference championship game. We won 11 games that year. I didn’t really want to rock the boat at that time.”
Heckendorf saw the greatest growth in Trubisky between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It was then he began to realize what Trubisky could be.
“He’s really a student of the game,” Heckendorf said. “He got comfortable within our system and understanding hwo to attack defenses. He took off. As you saw that confidence grow, you knew all along he had the arm talent and the accuracy. And then we he started playing at a faster pace than everybody else on the field, that’s when you knew you had somebody special.”