The 2021 NFL Draft is in the books and what a draft it was for the Chicago Bears. It's not hyperbole to say that this draft has the potential to not only save the jobs of both head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, but could also prove to be a franchise-altering moment. That's thanks to the club's aggressiveness right out the gate, addressing the most important position in the opening round (more on that in a minute). Here, we're going to look back at the Bears' draft and highlight what they got right, while also noting one thing that was left on the cutting-room floor as we head toward minicamp and the rest of the offseason.
What the Bears got right
A franchise quarterback has seemingly always eluded the Bears organization as they've never been able to quite get that position solidified over the course of recent memory. With that in mind, you have to give the club tremendous credit for being aggressive and acting fast as Ohio State's Justin Fields began falling down the draft board. The Bears leaped from No. 20 to No. 11 overall in a deal with the New York Giants to put themselves in a position to pluck Fields with that spot and tap him to be the next face of their franchise. This move wasn't a cheap one for Chicago to make as a jump of that magnitude required them to send the No. 20 overall pick, a 2021 fifth-rounder along with a first and fourth in 2022 to New York.
While you may think that's a bit too rich, this move now gives Chicago a young quarterback -- that many had ranked as the No. 2 prospect at the position only behind Trevor Lawrence -- to build around for the foreseeable future. If he proves to live up to that hype, the compensation almost becomes irrelevant, especially for a Bears organization that is starved for elite quarterback play.
With all this said, Chicago now needs to play this smart with Fields. After signing Andy Dalton to a deal earlier this offseason, there is a veteran quarterback in place that allows you to ease the young signal-caller into the league, which is what the Bears should do. If they try to force Fields into the mix when he's still a bit too green to appease the fanbase, ownership, or some other outside voice, you run the risk of harming the development of the player, which is the last thing the Bears need.
The franchise quarterback has finally been acquired and from here on out it's about grooming him so the organization can reach that next level of success and begin contending in the NFC North.
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What the Bears didn't do
By all accounts, the Bears did all you can ask for at the draft. Not only did they secure a potential superstar quarterback in Justin Fields, but they also addressed the offensive line by drafting tackle Teven Jenkins on Day 2 and made some really savvy additions later in the draft on Day 3 with receiver Dazz Newsome and others. With that in mind, anything that we say Chicago didn't do is admittedly nitpicking at this point. All that said, the Bears still need a corner who can anchor this secondary over the long term.
This was an area many speculated could be the direction Chicago went in the first round in the event that a quarterback wasn't available, especially after the release of Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine earlier this offseason. The team did sign Desmond Trufant, but he's only signed through 2021, so a young piece with top-tier upside was a point of emphasis that wasn't exactly hit at the draft.
The team was able to add an intriguing cornerback prospect in Oregon's Thomas Graham Jr. in the sixth round, but it's too tall of an ask for him to make that sort of an impact out of the gate and expect that he'll be able to rise to a CB1 level. If does, fantastic, but it shouldn't be something anyone banks on. Again, this was a stellar draft by the Bears, but that elite corner could be something they are still searching for heading into next offseason.