The Bears brass saw an opportunity, and they took it.
Picking at No. 20 during the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, which occurred on Thursday night, the Chicago Bears decided they didn’t fancy sitting down there and waiting to see if the player they wanted was going to drop.
They took action and traded that No. 20 overall selection along with a fifth-rounder this season and first- and fourth-rounders next season to the New York Giants for the No. 11 overall selection, which they used on Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who had surprisingly slid by QB-needy times like the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers.
Once it became clear that Fields was falling, the Bears evidently didn’t trust the 22-year-old to get past teams like the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, or Las Vegas Raiders who were picking ahead of them. Chicago’s general manager, Ryan Pace, was not hiding his excitement at having been able to move up and get a new guy to lead the franchise.
“We had multiple plans tonight, and the way the board was falling, we got excited when the quarterbacks came off that way and Justin continued to fall,” Pace said. “For us, it was just executing our plan at the right spot in the draft and being patient with that, which sometimes can be difficult.
“Fortunately, with the Giants, I’ve known Dave Gettleman for 20 years. He’s an amazing person and amazing general manager and we go way back, so that communication started really this morning about something like that happening, and when we were able to execute it in the draft, I just feel real fortunate.”
The move was the biggest surprise of a slow Thursday night and represented the second time that the Bears had traded up for a first-round quarterback on draft day in recent years. They also did so four years ago in 2017, when they sent a package of picks to the San Francisco 49ers to get the second overall choice and take Mitchell Trubisky.
The Trubisky experiment has not gone well at all, as evidenced by their signing of veteran Nick Foles last year, Andy Dalton during this offseason, and this draft day trade to acquire Fields. One would expect Trubisky to be on his way out the door and Fields to be the favorite to win the starting job over Dalton and Foles, the latter of whom struggled when he got his chance in Chicago last season.
Considering the pieces that would be around Fields, the potential is very exciting for Windy City sports fans. Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson are criminally underrated and could be a top five receiving duo with the right guy tossing the rock. David Montgomery also had a solid rookie season in Chicago’s backfield during the 2020 campaign, and the defense still has a lot of talent.
They don’t have great NFL odds to go deep in the playoffs, as evidenced by their +4,500 odds to win the Super Bowl next season on sportsbook 888sport. However, with the Detroit Lions being the Detroit Lions and the Aaron Rodgers era potentially over in Green Bay, the Bears do have a great shot to take the NFC North if Fields has an above-average rookie campaign in 2021.
After Chicago picked Fields, the Kennesaw, Georgia native was all smiles and confidence after doing his walk across the stage to see commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday night.
“You know, just the way I carry myself, just the way I care about the game, the grit I have, the determination I have to be great,” Fields said when asked about his potential for NFL success. “I think nobody has the story that I have. So just everything inside of me, just wanting to be a great quarterback, wanting to be a franchise quarterback. And just me dreaming for this moment my whole life. So I just think all of those intangibles, my work ethic and all that together will of course be different for me.”