The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. And it’s a big one for GM Ryan Pace, who enters the final year of the extension he signed in 2018. The same can be said for Head Coach Matt Nagy, the NFL Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2018, who aims to fix an offense that has been spinning its wheels since the start of 2019. Starting today, we’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Need: Higher than high
Currently on the Roster (2020 PFF Grade):
Andy Dalton (69.6), Nick Foles (66.5)
BN’s Composite Ranking
Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, The Draft Network, and Pro Football Network and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top-10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.
Here’s how the quarterbacks stack up (points in parenthesis):
1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson (40)
2. Zach Wilson, BYU (35)
3. Justin Fields, Ohio State (33)
4. Trey Lance, North Dakota State (29)
5. Mac Jones, Alabama (24)
6. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M (18)
7. Kyle Trask, Florida (16)
8. Davis Mills, Stanford (14)
9. Jamie Newman, Georgia/Wake Forest (6)
10. Ian Book, Notre Dame (2)
10. Sam Ehlinger, Texas (2)
Best of the rest: Shane Buechele (SMU), Feleipe Franks (Arkansas)
When the Bears sent this tweet:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 25, 2021
… This snippet immediately went to my mind:
The time has come for the team to draft a quarterback.
There are no more excuses. If the Bears weren’t drafting a QB to protect Mitchell Trubisky’s ego, then that excuse is out the window. With all due respect to Andy Dalton, he isn’t a long-term solution. And despite his knowledge of Matt Nagy’s system, Nick Foles isn’t even fit to be a bridge quarterback after his performance in 2020.
Logic suggests Chicago’s football team is in no place to push its chips to the middle to trade up in the draft to where it can take an impact signal caller. But I’m not letting that wimp push me around. And neither should Pace, for that matter. With his job on the line, I can’t imagine the Bears entering 2021 with just Dalton, Foles, and a late-round project quarterback on the depth chart. Not without at least taking one last big swing.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
Should the Bears’ preferred prospect be available after the first three picks, then I can imagine them calling the Falcons with a willingness to risk it all for that player. If that doesn’t work out, perhaps a deal with Cincinnati (5th), Miami (6th), or Carolina (8th) could be in order.
In any case, expect Justin Fields, Mac Jones, or Trey Lance to be the QB Chicago targets if it can trade up. But if no trade comes to fruition, then Kellen Mond and Davis Mills are Day 2 options.
• Matt Nagy was front-and-center at Justin Fields’ second Pro Day.
• Nagy and GM Ryan Pace were in Fargo, N.D. to see Trey Lance.
• Chicago had a formal meeting with Mac Jones, who said it was “great.”
• The Bears and Kellen Mond are totally smitten with each other.
• Kyle Trask threw for 6 touchdowns with Bears reps reportedly in attendance.
• Chicago sent QBs Coach John DeFilippo to scout Davis Mills at Stanford.
If I Had to Pick One:
With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson presumably going 1-2, all eyes shift to the class’ other prospects. At the top of my Bears wish list is Justin Fields, a prospect who seems to have it all.
Fields has arm strength, athleticism, poise, and swagger. His résumé is loaded. Two-time first-team all-conference performer. The Big Ten’s Player of the Year as the recipient of the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football award in 2020. A Heisman Trophy finalist and second-team All-American in 2019. Fields wrapping up his career with an epic performance against Clemson while playing through a ribs injury to lead Ohio State to the college football title game should’ve opened eyes. Throw in his efforts in convincing the Big Ten to play through a pandemic, and there is no questioning his talent or love of the game.
In late March, Fields told a reporter he feels he is the draft’s best quarterback. He even went as far as to warn teams picking Mac Jones ahead of him they will “just have to live with that decision.” Bold words, to be sure. But I sure wouldn’t want to be left holding the bag if Fields goes onto have a stellar career.