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2017 NFL Draft Preview: QB Mitchell Trubisky

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Recent rumors say Trubisky could potentially go #1 overall. Does he deserve to?

Over the course of the weeks leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This week, we dive into the quarterback position. Today, we look at Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina. 

College Career

After being named Ohio’s Mr. Football his senior year of high school, Trubisky chose to attend the University of North Carolina, passing up offers from powerhouses like Alabama and Ohio State. He redshirted his first year and went on to serve as a backup in 2014 and 2015 before finally being named starter entering the 2016 season. Trubisky did not disappoint, finishing with a 68.0 completion percentage, 3,748 passing yards, and 30 touchdowns, giving up just 6 interceptions. His passing yardage and touchdowns were both school single-season records.


Overall, Trubisky has the build, arm strength, and accuracy evaluators seek in pro prospects. He possesses great mobility and is able to keep his eyes up while on the move, unlike many inexperienced, mobile QBs who are quick to tuck and run: 

In addition, he has a compact throwing motion and can quickly zip the ball to his targets. This ability will allow him to squeeze the ball into tight windows at the next level, something he did not have to do much of in North Carolina’s offense. Another aspect of his game that will translate well is his capacity to move through progressions quickly. Here, he makes multiple reads before finding his target down the field for a big gain:

Another big plus for Trubisky was his performance in the red zone. Inside the 20, he had a 16-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a higher QB rating than in any other area of the field (210.7). These numbers should go a long way in convincing NFL teams Trubisky has what it takes to succeed closer to the end zone.


For all of Trubisky’s strengths, he comes with several red flags. The first is his lack of experience, having started just one year at the collegiate level. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians openly questioned why Trubisky wasn’t able to earn the starting job earlier in his college career, considering the QB who had been above Trubisky at UNC did not make an NFL roster after leaving school. 

Another concern surrounding Trubisky is how he will fit into a pro-style offense. At North Carolina, he played almost exclusively from shotgun and was never asked to read the defense pre-snap or make adjustments at the line. He revealed his pre-snap deficiencies on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp, failing to correctly call out a hard count: 

An additional knock on Trubisky is his lack of touch and accuracy on deep throws. There are times when he will underthrow an open target and allow the defense to make a play on the ball. This issue stems from his tendency to rely on arm strength rather than proper footwork to get the ball to the target. In other instances, he will overshoot his receiver and fail to capitalize on big play opportunities. 

Lastly, there are questions about Trubisky’s play against stronger competition. His Yards Per Attempt dipped to 6.14 against AP ranked teams compared to his season average of 8.40. He’ll have to start elevating his game against tougher opponents if he expects to find NFL success. 

Best Fit

Although Myles Garrett seems to be the clear choice for Cleveland at the first overall pick, the Browns have not ruled out grabbing Trubisky at that spot. If not, they may have another chance to snag him at the 12th overall pick. GM Sashi Brown has sang praises about Trubisky and will have a hard time passing him up should he indeed fall to the 12th spot.

Trubisky needs time to develop and adjust to the pro game, and landing with a perpetually dysfunctional, losing franchise like Cleveland could stunt his growth like it has with so many other QBs. 

The New York Jets would be a logical fit for Trubisky at the sixth overall pick. Their future at the position is unclear as Josh McCown is just a stopgap, while Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg have done little to show they belong in the NFL. Trubisky would give the organization a clearer picture going forward.


Compared to the other QBs in this year’s undeniably weak class, Trubisky stands out based on his frame, mobility, and short-to-intermediate accuracy. His biggest hurdle will be learning how to make the pre-snap adjustments expected from NFL QBs, a challenge that can hold back even the most promising young passers. Until he does, he’ll have a hard time getting on the field and contributing. Should he gain a stronger mental grasp of the position, I can see Trubisky as a franchise QB along the lines of Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco.

Edited by Jeremy Losak, Amelia Shein.

Prior to 2017, who was the last North Carolina player to go in the first round of the NFL Draft?
Created 4/24/17
  1. Sylvester Williams
  2. Jonathan Cooper
  3. Giovani Bernard
  4. Eric Ebron

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