On the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears GM proved once again that he’s not holding back in what could be his final shot.
The Bears made a trade with the Carolina Panthers for the 39th overall pick and selected tackle Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State. This was the second day in a row the Bears traded up after they nabbed the 11th pick on Thursday and selected quarterback Justin Fields.
What did it cost the Bears to move up? A lot. But it quickly proved to be worth the picks they gave up.
The Bears traded their second-round pick, a third-round pick, and a sixth-round pick to Carolina for the Panthers’ second-round pick and their fifth-round pick all in this year’s draft. Again, it’s a lot for the Bears to give up, but they got a guy many projected to go in the first round.
Pace was proven right almost instantly as the second round of the draft progressed on Friday night. There was a run of offensive lineman picked after the Bears traded up, and it made the aggressive move by the GM look even smarter.
The Bears were originally slated to pick 52nd overall in the second round. From the Atlanta Falcons’ 40th pick to the Cleveland Browns picking 52nd, there were five offensive linemen selected including four tackles. Pace struck at exactly the right time.
There was a familiar trend that the Bears followed on Friday. Four of the five teams that traded up in the first round of the draft to select a quarterback then selected an offensive lineman in either the first or second round.
It was an important move to shore up protection for a potential franchise quarterback. And many teams realized that as well. Jenkins is a steal of a pick at 39th overall, and he could significantly improve an offensive line that was shaky last season.
Offensive line was a top need for the Bears even before they traded up to select Fields to be their next quarterback. Some mock drafts even had the Bears selecting Jenkins at 20th overall, their original first-round spot.
For this front office and coach, their backs were against the wall in terms of needing to succeed this coming season. They are certainly making the bold moves required to make that success possible. Pace and Nagy will have saved their jobs if they can pull this off.