The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books, and as the Chicago Bears turn their focus to rookie minicamp this upcoming weekend, it’s a good time to look at how the franchise did in the draft.
Now, winners and losers technically aren’t settled for years to come but after the Bears potentially found a franchise quarterback in Justin Fields and a franchise tackle in Teven Jenkins in the first two rounds, many are high on what Chicago did. They addressed two of their biggest needs and got aggressive doing it by trading up for both prospects.
While it cost Chicago some draft capital not only this year but down the line as well, it appears to be worth it especially if one pans out to be a piece that they think they are getting. I mean, when is the last time we have felt this good about a Bears draft class? This class could certainly help the Bears odds on sites such as Comeon for the upcoming season.
On Day 3, the Bears opted to address depth needs by taking offensive lineman Larry Borom (Missouri), running back Khalil Herbert (Virginia Tech), wide receiver Dazz Newsome (UNC), defensive back Thomas Graham (Oregon) and defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga (BYU). Those pieces could come into play later on and if even one turns out to be a solid starter, then that’s a big bonus for this draft class.
When breaking down this draft class, Chicago drafted for need and did so in an aggressive manor. That’s why they are drawing praise from NFL.com as having the best draft class out of all 32 teams. Here is what Gennaro Filice said about the Bears class in an article grading each team:
Heading into the draft, there was a dark energy around this team, an ominous feeling that the current regime would spend 2021 playing out the string before hitting the unemployment line. But then something magical happened: Justin Fields began to slide. And when the Ohio State quarterback surprisingly remained on the board through Carolina and Denver’s picks, the Bears pounced, jumping up from No. 20 to 11 to secure the dynamic dual-threat’s services. The vibe in Chicago instantly flipped: Hope sprung! Feeling his trade-up oats, Pace moved up again on Day 2 to grab Jenkins, a violent tackle who was routinely projected as a first-rounder in Mock SZN. Suddenly, the arrow’s pointing up for the Bears — and for the continued employment of Nagy and Pace.
Even after the draft, the odds across the board have shifted for the NFC North and while Chicago isn’t a legit Super Bowl contender just yet, if Fields does pan out to be a legit quarterback then things will change in the future.
It’s not just NFL.com that is praising the Bears draft class, either. The Draft Network, The Ringer, Pro Football Network, and Pro Football Focus all gave the Bears an A+ while USA Today, the Draft Wire and Sports Illustrated gave Chicago an A. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN graded Chicago’s draft as a B+ which is the lowest grade we have seen from a major publication so far.
Here is what Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network said on the draft for the Bears:
Justin Fields is going to be a stud. Stop listening to the trolls and casuals, and turn on the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Clemson this year and you tell me how you feel about him as a prospect. Oh, and general manager Ryan Pace took Teven Jenkins? Yeah, A+ here.
And what Kiper Jr. said on ESPN for his grades:
What a move by the Bears, trading up for Justin Fields. I love the kid. This is a young quarterback with absolute star potential. This makes them better in 2021 and beyond. Elsewhere, Pace & Co. got an instant right tackle starter in Teven Jenkins (39), who I had pegged to the Bears in Round 1 in a couple of my mock drafts. It was a clear need for them, and they got him in the second round. Chicago’s next pick wasn’t until Round 5, but Larry Borom (151) is the type of swing tackle prospect that makes sense on Day 3.
There is still a lot that can happen between now and when these players actually hit the field but as Bears fans, we have to have some hope for the future right? We haven’t been able to have that for years and with the excitement that hit the air when it was revealed that Chicago was the team to move up from Fields, just imagine what’s going to happen when he actually gets into a game for the first time in his career with the franchise which could be this year.