The Bears came into the 2021 off-season with major questions at the Quarterback position. Mitchell Trubisky started only 11 of the 16 games last year, relinquishing the duties to back up Nick Foles who started 5 games. The offense simply didn’t do enough. The Bears defense was sub standard ranking 15th overall in points against, but the offense was 21st overall averaging only 23 points per game. With an elite wide receiver one in Allen Robinson, and a very good running back in David Montgomery the offense has pieces to be very good, if they can get consistent quarterback play. With all these being said, lets see how the Bears look to improve through the draft and off-season.
Round 1, Pick 11: Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)
In round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft the Bears looked to solve their Quarterback woes with Justin Fields out of Ohio State. Getting Justin Fields outside of the top 10 for the Bears is a complete steal, and has similar characteristics to that of a Patrick Mahomes who Matt Nagy coached in his tenure as the OC with the Chiefs. Justin Fields has all the tangibles; he can extend the play with his feet or pick up first downs with his feet. He has great ability to throw on the run, and he has a great arm that he used to throw 67 touchdowns in 2 seasons at OSU. He doesn’t profile as a 6’3 but neither is Kyler Murray and he is doing just fine. The Bears if done right, will be in good hands for a long time with Justin Fields. He has the ability to be that generational talent!
Round 2, Pick 39: Tevin Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State)
With their second round pick the Bears bolstered their Offensive Line with OT Tevin Jenkins out of Oklahoma State. Jenkins is a versatile tackle who has played on the right and left side of the line, but also has the ability to move inside to the Guard spot if necessary. He has quick feet and is a great run blocker who can set the edge. He too is not ideal in height, but with the amount of versatility he can bring to the Bears line he can really help this team get the most out of David Montgomery.
Round 5, Pick 151: Larry Borom (G, Missouri)
With no 3rd or 4th rounds picks we move to round 5 where the Bears again added to the O-line with Larry Borom out of Missouri. He is a large 6’5 demon who loves to get physical. Borom is another solid piece to protect Fields but he also projects as a better run blocker. The major issues for Borom are his length and work ethic to stay in shape. He will need to find a way to get motivated and stay in shape or his time at tackle will end and he may be forced to play Guard.
Round 6, Pick 217: Khalil Herbert (RB, Virginia Tech)
In round 6 the Bears had 3 picks. With their first selection they took running back Khalil Herbert out of Virginia Tech. Khalil truly is another Big 12 running back who played 4 seasons at Kansas and finished his college career at VA Tech to provide some depth to David Montgomery. Khalil has good vision out of the back field and only fumbled twice in 5 seasons of college ball. My only concern with Khalil is, does he have the ability catch the ball out of the backfield? He only caught 24 catches in those 5 seasons which is very limited for a great running back.
Round 6, Pick 221: Dazz Newsome (WR, North Carolina)
With their second pick of the 6th round they selected Dazz Newsome wide receiver out of North Carolina. Dazz had a lot of hype coming out of college, and fell a bit further than I believe experts predicted. The Bears have not had a true number 2 wide receiver in recent history, and Dazz who should be able to come right in and fill the void of the slot receiver for the Bears has a great chance to become that true number 2. Dazz has fantastic hands and his speed allows him to eat up the YAC. The Bears will hope to bulk Dazz up a bit, and expand his route tree, but these are minimal concerns for a talent like Dazz coming from a smaller program like UNC. Dazz has a lot potential to really dazzle for the Bears this year.
Round 6, Pick 228: Thomas Graham JR (CB, Oregon)
Finally, with their last pick in the 6th round the Bears brought in some defensive help with cornerback Thomas Graham Jr out of Oregon. Thomas is a solid cornerback who showed the ability to handle the toughest wideouts in the PAC 12. He has good instincts when tracking the ball which is a great key to limiting penalties in today’s NFL. He tends to recognize routes well, but he has slow reactions off the line and does not possess catch up speed. Thankfully for Thomas the Bears have been a top 5 defense when playing zone which is a system that fits Thomas, if he cannot increase his speed he can be a weakness and get beat deep.
Round 7, Pick 250: Khyiris Tonga (DT, BYU)
Closing out their 2021 draft the Bears again went defense bringing in Khyiris Tonga defensive tackle out of BYU. Khyiris is a large specimen who should fill the A gap and eat up double teams when it comes to the run game. He possesses great ability read a react in the run game and has quick feet as well as change of direction. Although he is quick, he lacks the explosion and moves to get around the O-line. Khyiris is a point A to point B rusher, more of a straight-line guy and can get pushed around because of it. I look for him to really fill a role to help stop the run, and that’s really it. I don’t expect him to become the next Suh or something, but a solid role player in the run defense.
Signed: CB Desmond Trufant; QB Andy Dalton; DB Artie Burns; RB Damien Williams
The Bears were beat out wide quite a bit last season, and they look to minimize this by signing a couple vets in Free Agency. With Desmond Trufant and Artie Burns coming in, the Bears added some very talented DB’s who have played at All-Pro levels in the past. Both of these guys have a bit of gas in the tank and can really help mature and groom the young guys in the room. I like both Artie, and Desmond to start for this Bears defense coming into the season and really help as well.
On the offensive side of the ball the Bears made a rather large splash by signing veteran Andy “Red Rifle” Dalton previously with the Dallas Cowboys. Dalton was brought in prior to the draft and when there was no clear-cut plan at the position for the Bears. Unfortunately, Dalton will probably start the season as the starting QB for these Bears, but do not anticipate it to late past week 4. Lastly, the Bears brought in more depth at the running back position with Damien Williams. Damien opted out last year’s COVID season and come in to a familiar situation with Matt Nagy. Damien will be fresh coming into the season, and he may be a great piece to really push David Montgomery into the elite running backs category. In the past two season Montgomery has had no competition, but with Damien Williams chomping at the bit, this could be a great move to help improve this run game.
Recap and Prediction – Middle of the Road 3rd in the NFC North
The Bears have made a huge move at the Quarterback position moving on from Trubisky and bringing in Justin Fields. I love this move! I give the Bears a solid B+ for their draft. But, while the division is still quite tough, I like the Bears to finish 3rd in the division this year while Justin Fields gets acclimated to the NFL. I like the Bears to go 9-8, I know its not sexy, but the Bear’s aren’t quite there yet. We need to see
the O-line to a step forward and we need the secondary to the do the same. I trust Fields to be the answer running the offense, but he needs to be able to stay on his feet, and not play from behind 24/7. The Bears will be a much better contender in 2022.