On Thursday, former North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was drafted by the Chicago Bears with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The pick made Trubisky the first UNC quarterback to ever be selected in the first round and tied for the highest selection in school history, joining Ken Willard (1965), Lawrence Taylor (1981) and Julius Peppers (2002) as fellow No. 2 picks.
He is the 24th first-round pick in Tar Heel history — the ninth to be selected in the top 10 — and he is also the fourth first-round pick under current North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, alongside Eric Ebron (No. 10 in 2014), Sylvester Williams (No. 28 in 2013) and Jonathan Cooper (No. 7 in 2013).
Trubisky started all 13 games for the Tar Heels in the 2016 season after playing intermittently behind Marquise Williams in the two years prior. But in the redshirt junior’s first season as the starter, he sent shock waves through the football program, setting the UNC single-season records in passing yards (3,748), touchdowns (30) and total offense (4,056).
Trubisky’s stellar season positioned him as one of the top quarterback choices after the Tar Heels’ bowl loss to Stanford in late December. And on Jan. 9, Trubisky announced he would forgo his senior year at UNC to enter the NFL Draft.
The Chicago Bears were in need of a new face of the franchise after they released quarterback Jay Cutler — their all-time leading passer — on March 9. Cutler started eight years in Chicago, where he threw for over 23,000 yards and tossed 154 touchdowns.
In six of his eight seasons with the Bears, though, Cutler threw at least 10 interceptions. He even led the NFL in interceptions in 2009 (26) and in 2014 (18). Cutler started just five games in 2016 while dealing with a shoulder injury — throwing for just four touchdowns and five interceptions before having season-ending surgery.
Trubisky’s selection could have resounding benefits for the North Carolina football team. His high profile and early selection will benefit the Tar Heel program down the line, as his development and success at UNC could allure prospective players.
“It’s hard to leave a special place like UNC,” Trubisky wrote when he declared for the NFL Draft, “which has had such a huge impact on my life and helped make me into the man I am today ...