Chicago Bears: Draft plans hinge on third overall pick

Chicago Bears (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports) /

For the Chicago Bears, expect the unexpected when the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around next week. Picking at 20th overall in round one, Chicago clearly is on the outside looking in when it comes to quarterbacks. Unless the Bears plan on packaging multiple first round picks to move up, the odds of Chicago landing a quarterback seem slim.

The Chicago Bears’ 2021 NFL Draft plans hinge on the third overall pick.

Looking at the current NFL Draft order, we know that the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets will be selecting a quarterback with the first and second overall picks. The draft really starts at third overall, when the San Francisco 49ers are on the clock.

First off, let’s get this out of the way: It’s very Chicago Bears-like that the Bears draft plans in 2021 hinge on the team that General Manager Ryan Pace traded with during the 2017 NFL Draft to select Mitchell Trubisky.

The stench of Trubisky will linger until the Bears figure out quarterback, however, guess who was spotted at Ohio State Quarterback Justin Fields’ pro day on April 14th: San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Should the 49ers opt to take Fields, the Bears will be on the outside looking in, leaving just Mac Jones (Alabama) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State University) as options in round one for the Bears.

Lance, despite being electric in 2019, is just a one-year starter. Meanwhile, Jones is a smart but athletically limited quarterback who needs a strong supporting cast to survive. Between the two, Lance has the higher ceiling.

The goal for the Bears shouldn’t be to just trade up for a quarterback. It should be to trade up for the right one. The easy consensus is that Fields is the third best quarterback in this draft class, only behind Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Zach Wilson (BYU).

If Fields slips past third overall, the Bears will be on the phones, doing whatever is needed to draft the Ohio State quarterback, in a move that would see Chicago give up 2021, 2022, and 2023 first-round draft picks. Otherwise, Chicago will be forced to play the waiting game, hoping that the Bears can move up for Lance or Jones at a cheaper price.

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Many may not like to admit it, however, what San Francisco does at third overall makes or breaks the Bears draft plans. 49ers General Manager John Lynch has developed a reputation for being one of the smartest football minds in the NFL today but if Lynch passes on Fields, the Bears may have the opportunity to strike gold.