While speaking with reporters ahead of the start of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace did not hide his feeling towards the quarterback class for this year’s draft.
As the Bears prepare for making a first round selection for the first time in three years, all eyes are on the quarterback position. The quarterback position has been the primary focus for the Bears ever since team president Ted Phillips admitted in January that the team has failed to get the quarterback position right.
The Bears took a big swing initially at trying to solve their quarterback issues. Between late February and early March, the Bears and Seattle Seahawks were engaged in trade discussions regarding Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson. The Bears ultimately offered the Seahawks a trade package that included three first round draft picks, a second round draft pick, and two defensive starters. The Seahawks, however, made the decision that they were not ready to trade Wilson.
The Bears had to make a quick pivot after failing to acquire to Wilson and signed veteran Andy Dalton to a one-year deal. Even with Dalton in the fold, the common theory is that the plan at the quarterback position that Pace and head coach Matt Nagy presented ownership back in January likely was not centered around having Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback.
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Pace’s comments on Tuesday would seem to indicate as much as the general manager praised the 2021 NFL Draft quarterback class.
"“To be honest, just the depth, the totality of that group, it is deep this year,” Pace said. “And they’re all different. Every team is going to evaluate each one of these players different, no different than any position. You’re not going through every position, but every year you feel different areas of the draft where there’s depth, and sometimes we’ve been able to take advantage of that."
Pace also added that he believed that the Bears were a good fit for a rookie quarterback considering the presence of both Dalton and backup Nick Foles as potential mentors.
One thing is clear, it would be negligible for the Bears to not select a quarterback at some point during the 2021 NFL Draft. The question becomes will the Bears gamble and trade up in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in an attempt to secure one of the top five prospects in the draft or will they be content with one of the mid-tier quarterback prospects?
The answer to that question is clear. The Bears must do whatever it takes to move up in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and select one of the top five quarterback prospects. As of now, it would appear that either Justin Fields or Trey Lance would be the most realistic options for the Bears in the event that they were to trade up. Though, if the San Francisco 49ers decided to throw everything out the window and select Lance with the third overall selection, then all bets are off.
Thursday night will be the night that Pace attempts to save his job as the Chicago Bears’ general manager with a plan that should include a move for a quarterback in the first round.