Having the title of offseason champions does not always amount to wins in the NFL. However, the Chicago Bears had such an impressive outing in the 2021 NFL draft that it just might apply this time.
Below are the three best moves by the Bears in the recently concluded draft.
Bears NFL Draft Chess Moves:
1. Trading up for Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
For a prospect to pan out at the professional level, there are so many things to take into consideration, such as talent, physical tools, health, and attitude. Some of these are outside a team’s control. This is why there are times it is better to have multiple, lower picks than a single, high pick. This is the philosophy of teams like the New England Patriots.
Giving up draft capital for Fields looks like the exception. On some draft boards, Fields was considered the second-best in what is a loaded class at the position. He had quite a fall in the draft and so the Bears pulled the trigger to get their quarterback of the future at number 11 overall.
Fields displays great accuracy even when on the run. He is athletic and has a strong arm, although not at the same level as some of his peers. Fields has the speed to hurt teams with his legs and more importantly has the potential to make Chicago relevant again.
The team signed veteran Andy Dalton, so they can decide to let Fields get acclimated to the NFL game first before being thrown into the fire.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson will make life easier for Fields. Robinson produces terrific numbers even with suspect quarterback play, one can only imagine how good a Fields – Robinson tandem could be.
2. Trading up for Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Another trade up, but also another excellent move. Jenkins was expected by most to be taken in the first round. It was quite a shock that he was available at number 39.
To say Jenkins plays with a mean streak is an understatement. When he is run blocking, he is not just looking to open a hole for his running back, but rather trying to bury defenders. In terms of functional strength and raw power, perhaps only Penei Sewell has more.
Jenkins’ grip strength is exceptional and when he gets his hands on his matchup it is all over. His run blocking is better than his work in pass protection, but he is solid enough to help keep Fields’ jersey clean. The Bears’ quarterback problems are pronounced — no one needs an explanation of that point — but it remains that having better offensive linemen will give Chicago a better chance of developing an elite passer, the gateway to success for the franchise.
This selection addressed a need and got the best player available for the Bears.
3. Drafting Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
Getting Graham in Round 6 is a steal. He is a solid athlete, who is more quick than he is fast. This suggests that he is best-suited to play slot cornerback.
Graham has incredible instincts and although it is not a prerequisite for the position, he is very engaged in the run game and has shown a willingness to tackle bigger players. He is technically sound and is reliable in locating the ball.
Chicago has a lot of corners in the roster, but Graham has a real chance of seeing the field, which is much more than one could ask for from a sixth round pick.