In a bold move by general manager Ryan Pace and company, the Chicago Bears moved up in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night to make the trade everyone is talking about.
The Bears sent the 20th overall pick, a 2021 fifth-rounder (No. 164 overall), a 2022 first-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick to the New York Giants in order to move up to No. 11, where they selected former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
Fields was a Heisman candidate for the last two seasons at Ohio State, and he fell out of the top 10 after being initially projected as a top-three pick. The Bears snatched him up, much to the delight of their fan base — but don’t expect to see him on the field in 2021. At least not right away.
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Pace Doubles Down on Andy Dalton as Starter
“Matt has spoken to Andy Dalton tonight. That communication and clarity for us is really important,” Pace said after drafting Fields. “Andy is our starter, and we’re gonna have a really good plan in place to develop Justin and do what’s best for our organization and win games.”
While some might suggest bringing in Fields to sit behind a veteran like Dalton is similar to the situation the Bears had when Mitch Trubisky arrived in 2017 to sit behind Mike Glennon — only to take over after four inept Glennon performances — it’s not all that similar of a situation, really. Dalton is far superior to Glennon, and Fields is more experienced and explosive than Trubisky ever was.
Nagy is likely hoping to emulate the Alex Smith – Patrick Mahomes relationship he supervised as offensive coordinator with Kansas City in 2017, but if Fields blows Dalton out of the water, don’t expect him to sit out his entire rookie season, either. Much will depend on how Dalton performs, as well. Either way, developing Fields slowly is the plan right now.
Bears Scouted Fields Thoroughly
According to the Bears GM, Fields has been on the team’s radar for awhile. “We’ve talked about him for a long time now. Matt has a good relationship with (Ohio State head coach) Ryan Day, as well. It’s just the combination of factors he has,” Pace said about his new quarterback. “It’s the arm talent, it’s the accuracy, it’s the athleticism. When you see a guy with that kind of arm talent, with that kind of quarterback makeup that he has, with that kind of work ethic that he has — that’s played in really big games and really big moments and performed in big moments.”
Pace also lauded his new quarterback’s toughness:
“I was at the Michigan game a couple years ago when he came back in from a knee, and we know about the ribs and the hip, and this guy’s toughness on a scale of 1-10 is an 11. And you just love that about him. Oh, and then, by the way, he runs a 4.44. You throw all that in together and it just feels good.”
Bears fans would second that. Regardless of when he plays, Justin Fields is officially a Chicago Bear, and that’s not changing any time soon.