In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears shocked everyone when they moved up one spot to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick. The Cleveland Browns had the first overall pick in this draft and with it they took defensive end Myles Garrett, a nearly consensus first overall pick.
However, the Browns also expressed interest in the UNC quarterback and according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver, they were willing to trade up from pick 12, their second pick in the first round to take him. So, what if instead of the Bears turning in the draft card with Trubisky’s name on it that night, it was in fact the Browns who made the trade with the 49ers?
For starters, the Bears would have likely taken Solomon Thomas at 3, whom they were also fans of, making their front seven even scarier than it already was adding Thomas in with Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan. and Akiem Hicks.
What would have happened at pick 12? That pick was the one the Browns traded out of with the Texans so they could select Deshaun Watson. Does that still happen? Odds are that it does. It depends on whether or not the 49ers would be looking to trade down again and with the right offer, the Texans could get the deal done.
Either that or the 49ers take Watson and the Texans end up having to find another option. Let’s say that the 49ers did indeed select Watson at pick 12 and not trade the pick with the Texans. What happens to Jimmy Garoppolo?
During 2017, the 49ers gave the Patriots a second round pick in exchange for Garoppolo. If the 49ers did indeed draft Watson, this never would have happened. The candidates for Garoppolo would be slim.
There would be Chicago who would be fed up with Mike Glennon at this point if the first four weeks of last year showed us anything. Chicago had reportedly made trading for Garoppolo a priority that offseason so if they hadn’t drafted Trubisky, they would likely continue trying so odds are he would end up in Chicago.
How would the teams affected fare in 2017?
The Browns would likely finish around as well as the Bears did but Hue Jackson is better at running an offense than John Fox. However, Trubisky struggled in 2017 largely as a result of throwing to players like Kendall Wright and Dontrelle Inman most of the year. The team’s biggest threats was in their running game with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
The Browns had a worse rushing attack with Isaiah Crowell and receiving back Duke Johnson along with receivers Josh Gordon, who only played five games, Ricardo Louis, Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins and tight ends David Njoku and Seth DeValve. DeShone Kizer made those receivers look absolutely abysmal. Trubisky would have figured something serviceable out like he did in Chicago and likely brought the team to three or four wins.
Injuries are unpredictable so for posterity’s sake, let’s say this alternate reality has Watson not getting hurt. If the 49ers started him as early as Houston did, they could have finished at .500. The offense is slightly worse than Houston’s, not boasting a top 10 wide receiver but Marquise Goodwin proved his worth with a good quarterback.
The Bears end up being the team to benefit from a successful Garoppolo, but, as mentioned before, the power of the team last year was the rushing attac. Garoppolo could have shown the same promise but it wouldn’t translate statistically. Fox and Dowell Loggains would likely still lose their jobs.
The Texans get the short end of the stick here having to grin and bear it through a whole year of backup and third string quarterbacks, trying to find one that’s passable until the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s say the Texans selected Baker Mayfield first overall and have him as their quarterback coming into this season.
And with that, we end our adventure and pop out of the rabbit hole, making our return from Wonderland.