The Chicago Bears’ selection of Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017 backfired in a major way. However, while the NFL Draft can be cruel to some teams, it is also the best place for redemption. The Bears are hoping their big trade to get Justin Fields will be that redemption.
Below are grades for Chicago’s picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
1. Round 1 (No. 11) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
Some mock drafts had Fields going to the New York Jets second overall, with others pegging him to the San Francisco 49ers right after, but somehow Fields was available all the way down to the 11th pick. The Bears saw an opportunity to trade up and get a potential franchise quarterback in Fields.
He is one of the safer picks in this draft and possesses many traits one looks for in a signal-caller. Fields is an accurate passer and even his deep balls land right in his receivers’ hands. He is a terrific athlete with enough mobility to extend plays and has a strong arm.
This selection is one of the best values in the entire draft.
2. Round 2 (No. 39) – Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
It is never enough to just have a franchise quarterback. Teams need to surround their passers with the structure and talent to excel, and this is what Chicago did. Once again, a player fell below his anticipated draft range and got picked up by the Bears by trading up.
Jenkins plays with a mean streak and is a bulldozer of a run blocker. After Penei Sewell, he probably has the most raw power among offensive linemen and has incredible grip strength. Jenkins has room to grow as a pass protector, but the tools are them for him to succeed. His best fit moving forward would probably be at right tackle.
Both Fields and running back David Montgomery should be happy with this pick.
3. Round 5 (No. 151) – Larry Borom, OT/OG, Missouri
Chicago doubled down on the offensive line. Borom stands a shade below 6-foot-5 and comes in at 322 pounds with ideal arm length. Similar to Jenkins, he is a force in the run game and plays aggressively. His pass protection has improved year after year. He is a bit limited in terms of athleticism and quickness, so he will probably play guard at the professional level.
Borom adds depth and upside to Chicago’s line. This is a solid pick.
4. Round 6 (Pick 217) – Khalil Herbert, RB, Virginia Tech
Herbert had a productive collegiate career and will add depth to the Chicago backfield. He made some catches playing for the Hokies, which suggests he has some versatility, but his biggest pathway to playing time is on special teams.
In his collegiate stint, he averaged 24.8 yards per kick return, which is one the best marks out there. Running back may not have been one of the team’s most pressing needs, but picking Herbert here was a good value selection.
5. Round 6 (Pick 221) – Dazz Newsome, WR, North Carolina
Newsome is a speedy receiver and can be used in a variety of plays. Every time he has the ball there is a potential for a big play. Just throw the ball to him on a slant route could and watch him generate some yards.
Like Herbert, Newsome could come in right away and contribute to special teams, but this time on punt returns. He will bring some competition to the wide receiver corps.
6. Round 6 (Pick 228) – Thomas Graham Jr., CB, Oregon
At 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, Graham is on the lighter side for an outside corner, which is the position he primarily played in college. He does play bigger than his size, though, and is a tough, physical defender. Graham is a ballhawk and is looking to make a splash play.
His best fit may be lining up in the slot.
7. Round 7 (Pick 250) – Khyiris Tonga, DT, BYU
Tonga is a big-bodied defensive tackle coming in at 6-foot-2, 325 pounds, who will plug a hole alongside the defensive line. He is difficult to move in the run game, but he shows some flashes of pass-rush ability. Tonga is quite mobile for his size and will have the chance to learn playing behind veteran Eddie Goldman.
The Bears knocked their draft out of the park. The front office was bold in moving up for their first two picks, but they used these on high-rated players who fill positions of need. Their late-round selections were well done and, hopefully, they can all see the field sooner rather than later.