You can call him Mitch Trubisky or Mitchell Trubisky. But you should not call him a franchise quarterback.
I don’t think Cleveland will or ultimately should draft Trubisky at No. 1 overall Thursday night in the 2017 NFL Draft, although the Browns certainly are trying to keep people guessing until the last minute. I believe Clemson’s DeShaun Watson will ultimately be the better pro quarterback, while Trubisky will be an average NFL QB.
Being “average” as an NFL quarterback still puts you in an elite group, for sure, and Trubisky is going to make a tremendous living playing football somewhere. He was right to leave North Carolina and skip his senior year, because his draft stock will never be higher than it is right now.
But Trubisky is not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, as I have mentioned before, and he never will be. He is closer to Sam Bradford. I watched Trubisky closely through all of the Tar Heels’ 2016 season. What I saw was a guy with a big arm who has decent mobility but who also just doesn’t seem to have the magic necessary to pull many wins out of the jaws of potential defeats.
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His numbers were great, but the most important number was not. The Tar Heels went 8-5 with a top-10 draft pick at quarterback. That ain’t good.
Think about North Carolina’s last four games under Trubisky, as MMQB’s Peter King did in this insightful column – the Tar Heels lost to Duke (then 3-6), lost to N.C. State (then 5-6) and lost to Stanford (in a bowl game that Christian McCaffrey sat out just to be safe and one in which Stanford was also forced to play its second-string quarterback for most of the game).
The only win in Trubisky’s final four with UNC came against The Citadel.
Yes, you can’t lay all of that on Trubisky – his defense did him no favors at times. And he did have some really good moments in 2016, too.
But too often, when the Tar Heels needed one big drive, Trubisky did not come through. To me, as heretical as it may sound, Marquise Williams was actually a more effective college quarterback at UNC than Trubisky was and I don’t blame Larry Fedora for starting Williams over Trubisky.
Watson, of course, did come through in college – over and over, culminating with a national title. I don’t think Watson is going to be a Michael Jordan in the NFL, no matter what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says, but I think he’s going to be a dynamic player who will ultimately succeed on Sundays more often than Trubisky.
Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Let me know in a few years years if I am – or right now, if you like.
But if I was an NFL general manager today who needed a quarterback, I would pick Watson over Trubisky.
And if I were the Browns, I definitely would not consider Trubisky at No. 1 and would go with defensive end Myles Garrett instead.