Greg Gabriel: North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky an NFL Draft prospect worth watching

Trubisky is having a stellar season and could be an early-round pick if he declares for the draft

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North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) tosses a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game between North Carolina and Virginia at Scott stadium in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) tosses a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game between North Carolina and Virginia at Scott stadium in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) — Steve Helber

The Bears' former director of college scouting, Greg Gabriel has over 30 years of experience in NFL scouting and he'll be breaking down the top NFL prospects to watch this college season and other NFL news each week here at Pro Football Weekly. You can follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

Going into the 2016 college football season, the quarterback names we heard as potential premium-round draft prospects were Deshaun Watson from Clemson, Chad Kelly from Ole Miss and Brad Kaaya from Miami.

After the first couple of games, Notre Dame third-year sophomore DeShone Kizer jumped to the top of the list.

Based on his play in the first half of the season, a new name has emerged in the last few weeks and that is Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina.

Trubisky is a fourth-year junior and while he has had some starts in the past, this is his first year as a full-time starter.

Coming out of high school, Trubisky was rated as a three-star prospect, but still received offers from some top schools. Ohio State, Michigan State and Alabama were among the schools offering Trubisky.

Trubisky has excellent size (listed at 6-3, 225 pounds), is very athletic and has a very strong arm. While he plays in a fairly simple spread offense, you see him make all the throws that an NFL quarterback makes.

Through seven games he has competed 203-of-285 throws for a 71.2 percent completion rate and 2,378 yards. He has also thrown for 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions. His breakout game was against Pitt in Week Four when he led North Carolina to a come from behind victory, passing for 453 yards and five touchdowns.

Trubisky’s stats can be a bit deceptive, as they throw a number of bubble screens and quick passes designed for the receiver to gain yards after the catch. Still, he shows good accuracy and ball placement on the medium to long range throws. He easily can complete a throw 50-60 yards downfield.

Trubisky has an overhand delivery with a quick release and throws a tight ball with good velocity. While he makes some outstanding throws, he can get lazy with his footwork at times and throw off his back foot or when out of balance. When that happens, the ball can sale and his accuracy is off.

Trubisky generally shows good ability to read the field, has a minor progression to go through and makes good decisions. He seldom forces the ball. He also has the athleticism, quick feet and speed to avoid pass rushers and make and extend plays with his feet. It is very obvious on tape that he is in command on the field and has leadership skills.

Generally speaking, I am not in favor of first-year starters who are underclassmen entering the draft. More of these types fail than succeed once they reach the NFL. Another year in college would serve Trubisky well and get him more prepared to play in the NFL. That said, he is very talented and could very well be a first-round draft choice and perhaps even a top-15-type player. There are many NFL scouts who have a first-round grade on him right now. Come January, Mitch Trubisky has a big decision to make.