Up until Jay Cutler's arrival in Chicago prior to the 2009 season, the organization struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position.
With just one year left on Cutler's contract and there still being an unknown at the head coach position, the Bears could be looking to add depth to a position that has long been a weakness of the team.
General Manager Phil Emery made it a point in his press conference following the firing of Lovie Smith to praise Cutler (h/t Chicago Sun-Times):
Am I convinced that Jay has the talent to be that? Yes, I am. I see Jay as a franchise quarterback. We've got to build around him. That's been the goal from the beginning, to build around Jay and to build our team towards championships.
Despite getting the praise from Emery, Cutler is still an aging QB with a contract ending after next season. The time is now for the Bears to start looking not only for the present but for the future.
Current backup quarterback, Jason Campbell, is set to be a free agent, as is third-string quarterback, Josh McCown, once free agency begins in March. Campbell struggled in limited time this season and McCown was never anything more than insurance. It is likely that a new head coach and staff will look in another direction for a veteran backup.
Undrafted rookie Matt Blanchard, who got an invite to training camp and spent a good portion of the season on the practice squad, was signed to a reserve/future contract on Monday (h/t ESPN Chicago) but likely is not viewed as much more than a third-string quarterback at best.
It is hard to determine which direction the Bears will be going in until they hire a new coach. But despite the lack of a top-tier quarterback talent in the draft, Chicago could find itself with many options later on in the draft.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma, Projected Round: 3
Jones had his share of ups and downs at Oklahoma and benefited greatly from having terrific weapons around him. Having said that, his throwing motion and mechanics will cause him to drop in the draft.
He is extremely accurate, but his throwing motion needs to be tightened up and his footwork needs to improve, particularly when feeling pressure in the pocket. Much like Cutler, he has a tendency to trust his arm too much, though he is very good at reading defenses at the line of scrimmage and working his way through progressions.
The Bears currently do not own a third-round pick in this year's draft due to the Brandon Marshall trade, but if they feel they can develop Jones, the Bears may believe he's worth trading up to get.
Zac Dysert, Miami (OH), Project Round: 4-5
Much like the former MAC quarterbacks before him, Zac Dysert has had to continually prove to scouts week in and week out that he has a future in the NFL.
An accurate thrower with above average speed, he has the ability to keep plays alive and is great throwing the ball on the run. He threw for over 3,400 yards with 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, mostly with inferior talent around him. His slow release and tendency to force the ball can get him into trouble, and not having played in a pro-style offense at Miami means he will likely need some time to adjust to a different offensive scheme.
He has the ability to improve his stock at the Senior Bowl, but as it stands, he is likely to be a mid-fourth to early fifth-round pick. He could benefit from sitting behind Cutler, a quarterback with similar attributes.
Collin Klein, Kansas State, Projected Round: 6-7
Viewed by some as much better passing version of Tim Tebow, Klein burst onto the scene this year, throwing for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 920 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was very much a run-first quarterback put has flashed the ability to be good passer if given the opportunity to learn.
His mechanics need some fine tuning, especially his footwork, as he has a tendency to not always square up his body when making a throw. He can be fairly accurate in the short-to-intermediate passing game but struggles to get the ball ahead of his receivers on downfield throws.
He is likely a long shot to make an impact in the league as a quarterback, but the Bears' new head coach and his staff may view a guy like Klein as someone with all the necessary potential and if given an opportunity to fine tune his skills, he may surprise some people.
Is it a given that the Bears will be trying to improve their quarterback position? No. But for years they have gotten by with signing guys off of the street and not developing their guys under center.
If Phil Emery is serious about getting the next great offensive mind in place as his head coach, then now would be the perfect time to find a young quarterback to mold.