Chicago Bears 2021 NFL Draft Preview
As we head into the 2021 season, the Chicago Bears are at a crossroads. Coming off of two consecutive .500 seasons, which way will the Bears proceed? Are they a contender, as they were with a brilliant 12-4 season in 2018? Or are they a mediocre pretender like they were in ’19 and ’20, finishing exactly 8-8 in each of the last two regular seasons? Worse yet, are they ready to “blow it up” with the idea of rebuilding?
The good news is the Bears have a 1st round selection in this year’s 2021 NFL Draft after not having a 1st rounder in each of the last two Drafts because of the Khalil Mack trade with Oakland/Las Vegas on September 1, 2018. The disappointing news is that trade didn’t get the Bears over the hump and now they have the 20th overall pick due to the mediocrity of last year. Chicago is almost at that point of getting caught in the middle. They aren’t good enough and they aren’t awful enough.
It’s going to be hard to predict who the Bears will draft on Thursday night. However, we’re going to try and throw out a few scenarios that could happen with GM Ryan Pace working the phones. (Teams in BOLD might take a QB)
- Jacksonville Jaguars : Trev Lawrence/QB/Clemson/NFL Comparison: Peyton Manning
- New York Jets : Zach Wilson/QB/BYU/NFL Comparison: Baker Mayfield
- San Francisco 49ers : Mac Jones/QB/Alabama/NFL Comparison: Tom Brady – The top two selections are almost assuredly Lawrence and Wilson according to all public knowledge. The third pick is where it gets interesting. San Francisco traded up and they too will most likely pick a quarterback for Head Coach Shanahan to groom rather than sticking with standby Jimmy Garoppolo. Will the Niners take Jones, Trey Lance, even Justin Fields? Supposedly Head Coach Kyle Shanahan really wants Jones while their front office is sold on Lance. Maybe it’s a smokescreen and they’ll actually take Fields. Nobody seems to know for sure. What we do know is that they’re definitely taking one of these three studs. Which one?
- Atlanta Falcons : Kyle Pitts/TE/Florida/NFL Comparison: George Kittle – If Atlanta keeps their pick, who will they be targeting? Do they want to plan for life after Matt Ryan by taking a young quarterback? He’s 35 years old now and on the back end of his career. Or will the Falcons try one last time to win the big one after blowing a 25 point lead to the Patriots in the final game of the 2016 season? How can we forget that 34-28 comeback victory by Tom Brady and New England which will be chapter one in Dutch Lion’s future book called “Heartbreak City”? It’s possible Atlanta’s GM Terry Fontenot will trade out of this 4th spot to a team that wants to move up to select the 4th QB. We’re talking to you Ryan Pace.
- Cincinnati Bengals : Ja’Marr Chase/WR/LSU/NFL Comparison: Antonio Brown – Cincinnati is the first team drafting that already has their quarterback of the future in Joe Burrow, last year’s top selection. Therefore, the top OT Penei Sewell or one of the top WR’s such as Ja’Marr Chase is the likely top pick in ’21 for the Bengals. If Pitts falls, they could go in that direction as well. Chase caught passes from Burrow at LSU, while Sewell is a dominant prospect that could man Left Tackle and protect Burrow’s blind side. Pitts has been called the best non-quarterback in this Draft and one of the best tight end prospects ever.
- Miami Dolphins : DeVonta Smith/WR/Alabama/NFL Comparison: – Miami selected their quarterback of the future with the fifth selection last year in Tua Tagovailoa. Are they happy with him? I foresee the Dolphins grabbing a wide receiver.
- Detroit Lions : Micah Parsons/LB/Penn St. – The Lions shockingly traded the 33 year old Matthew Stafford to the L.A. Rams in exchange for the 26 year old Jared Goff. It would be hard to envision Detroit grabbing another QB this early in the Goff Era. I foresee the Lions getting the top defensive player on their board or trading down to a team like Denver, New England, or Chicago who will want to grab the fourth quarterback in the top ten.
- Carolina Panthers : Penei Sewell/OT/Oregon – Carolina’s Head Coach Matt Rhule is working with Jets castoff Matt Darnold now that they’ve traded Teddy Bridgewater to Denver. Therefore, we don’t expect the Panthers to go in that direction. Instead, they could trade down or draft for defense. Most likely, the Panthers will be grabbing the top Tackle in Oregon’s Penei Sewell.
- Denver Broncos : Trey Lance/QB/North Dakota St./NFL Comparison: Josh Allen – Denver could definitely be interested in a quarterback. They have Drew Lock, who has started 18 games over his first two seasons, but I’m not sure they’re sold on him. The Broncos have one of the most interesting draft situations this year because of no clear direction at quarterback, their draft slot, and the idea that they could trade either up OR down. Plus, they just traded for Teddy Bridgewater a few days ago so there’s that. If they take Lance, they are getting a player with potential like Josh Allen (Wyoming), who like Lance, has a big arm and running skills. Both were from smaller schools in the upper Midwest/Rockies region. Will Lance be as good as Allen? Unlikely but you never know.
- Dallas Cowboys : Patrick Surtain/CB/Alabama/NFL Comparison: His father, Patrick Surtain Sr. who was a 10 year pro for Miami and Kansas City from 1998-2008. Like his father, who was 5’11” 195, Junior is physical at 6’2″ 202. Senior was a 1st Team All-Pro in 2002. Will the son follow in his father’s footsteps?
- New York Giants : Jaylen Waddle/WR/Alabama/NFL Comparison: Tyreek Hill
- Philadelphia Eagles : Kwity Paye/DE/Michigan
- Los Angeles Chargers : Christian Darrisaw/OT/Virginia Tech
- Minnesota Vikings : Azeez Ojulari/OLB/Georgia
- New England Patriots : Justin Fields/QB/Ohio St./NFL Comparison: Cam Newton – I would compare Fields to Cam Newton, so what better place to land than New England, where he can back up Cam Newton for a season, learn from him, and then take over the reins in ’22? I would bet Fields doesn’t last this long, but I didn’t predict trades exactly so for now we’re going with New England grabbing him at #15. I think it’s more likely that New England, Chicago, or somebody else moves up in the draft via trade to nab Fields in the top ten picks.
- Arizona Cardinals : Jaycee Horn/CB/South Carolina
- Las Vegas Raiders : Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah/OLB/Notre Dame
- Miami Dolphins : Rashawn Slater/OL/Northwestern
- Washington : Trevon Moehrig/S/TCU
- Chicago Bears : Rashod Bateman/WR/Minnesota/NFL Comparison: Michael Gallup/Dallas – It’s hard to imagine the Bears getting one of the top five quarterbacks way down here at #20 overall. If Pace is unable to trade up to the top ten or maybe even the top five overall picks, he will likely have to take a player at a different position such as CB, OT, or WR. If the Bears stick at #20, I’ll predict Bateman if Pace goes receiver, Caleb Farley/CB/Virginia Tech if he goes corner, and Teven Jenkins/OT/Oklahoma St. if he goes tackle.
Now let’s recap what we have here so far. It is my belief that all five quarterbacks (Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, Jones, and Fields) will be gone after New England’s pick at #15. Therefore, if Pace really wants to grab a first round QB, he needs to make a trade up into the top 10, maybe higher. It’s entirely possible that all five QB’s are gone in the top seven if Atlanta and Detroit trade down.
If Pace is unable to convince a colleague that his goods are worth it, then Pace will likely sit at #20, take either a WR, OT, or CB and then look for a quarterback later in the Draft, likely on Friday night during Round 2. The Bears have 8 picks this weekend.
- Round 1, pick 20 – Rashod Bateman/WR/Minnesota
- Round 2, pick 52 – Kellen Mond/QB/Texas A&M – I’m a big fan of Mond, but I think he definitely has question marks. Everyone does. That’s why he’ll likely fall to Round 2. Will he be there at #52 overall? I’m not sure, but if Pace feels like he has to trade up in the 2nd round to get a QB, any QB, then he likely will. I’m praying Pace doesn’t go for Davis Mills from Stanford. I’d be more excited about Mond’s potential or even Kyle Trask from Florida. Trask is stationary while Mond is mobile. Trask put up huge stats at Florida with weapons. Once his weapons (Pitts, Toney, etc.) were not playing in the bowl game, Trask struggled.
- Round 3, pick 83 – Liam Eichenberg/OT/Notre Dame – The Bears love offensive linemen from Notre Dame. At one point Eichenberg looked like a possible first rounder. If he falls this far, Pace would love to give him a try.
- Round 5, pick 164 – Deommodore Lenoir/CB/Oregon – After losing Kyle Fuller, Chicago needs to restock their cornerback depth. If Pace doesn’t get a CB earlier, then he’s definitely going to look for a player who falls to Round 5 who should have been drafted earlier.
- Round 6, pick 204 – Foster Sarell/OT/Stanford – A highly touted recruit out of high school, the Bears will see if they can maximize his potential after a so-so career at Stanford.
- Round 6, pick 208 – Jhamon Ausbon/WR/Texas A&M – One of Mond’s best targets, and friends, at A&M. Chicago snags another receiving prospect in the 6th round.
- Round 6, pick 221 – Brady Breeze/S/Oregon – I love this kid! He’s a dude that flies around wreaking havoc. Let’s give him a shot.
- Round 6, pick 228 – Janarius Robinson/DE/Florida St. – Chicago has been really good at finding defensive linemen deep in the Draft that emerge as contributors. Now that Roy Robertson-Harris is gone, let’s grab a new DL prospect with the last pick. Robinson always looked good to me when I watched FSU.
My favorite players in this 2021 NFL Draft:
- Mac Jones/QB/Alabama – The next Tom Brady. I’m serious. Watch his footwork in the pocket. I sometimes think we’re seeing Brady reincarnated. At one point I thought the Bears could draft Jones at #20 overall. Now it looks like he’s going #3 to San Francisco. If the 49ers end up taking Fields or Lance, I suggest that Pace trades with Atlanta for their #4 pick and gets the next Tom Brady.
- Travis Etienne/RB/Clemson – Etienne is so good that in years gone by he would have been a top 5 selection. However, in the modern NFL in which they don’t value RB’s, he will be lucky to be picked in the 1st round. Nonetheless, Etienne will dominate in the NFL.
- Javonte Williams/RB/North Carolina – His balance sets him apart.
- Rondale Moore/WR/Purdue – What can this little jitterbug (5’9″ 180) do at the next level? I’m excited to find out.
- Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah/OLB/Notre Dame – I love players in his mold. Owusu-Koramoah can run. At 6’1″ 225, he’s perfect for the modern NFL. He can blitz and cover receivers while making vicious hits. He’s like Roquan Smith, but with less size. He’s more of an OLB instead of a ILB.
- Jaycee Horn/CB/South Carolina – Whenever I watched the Gamecocks last year, I couldn’t believe how physical Horn was playing his man one on one. He’s a fun defender to watch in coverage.
- Buddy Johnson/ILB/Texas A&M – I’ve watched most of the Texas A&M games over the past couple years and I love this linebacker Johnson. He’s the kind of guy you fall in love with. He’s not a great player, but he’s a late round selection that might be a solid special teamer and a guy that grows into a long NFL career with development. He entered A&M as a 210 pound quarterback and wide receiver in high school. He grew into a 230 pound LB who paced the Aggies in tackles with 77 and 86 over the last two years. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award last year. Johnson speaks “Athlete” to me. I predict success for him at the next level.
- Tyler Vaughns/WR/USC – Vaughns was a guy I followed in college for years. He always looked like a player who could be a dominant presence, given the right opportunity. At USC, he had to fight for targets. He could be a big, tall WR1 for the right franchise. I think the sky is the limit with Vaughns.
DO NOT DRAFT:
- Davis Mills/QB/Stanford – If Pace takes Davis Mills, I might renege on my Bears fandom. I saw a “highlight” tape of Mills that made him look so mediocre you wonder if his competitors published the video. He honestly looked like a junior high kid throwing the ball in college to the wrong team, UCLA. Maybe he just had a bad night. However, maybe the fact that Mills only started 14 games in his college career is a red flag. Remember how Mitch Trubisky started one season at North Carolina? That was a red flag too.
- any Running Back – If Pace takes a running back I will be angry because of another wasted selection. Chicago already has an excellent starting RB in David Montgomery. Plus, he signed for Chiefs Super Bowl champion RB Damien Williams, who is unsung. He’s a weapon as a backup to Montgomery with Super Bowl experience as a starter. Also, Tarik Cohen should be back sometime soon after his torn ACL early in the 2020 season. The Bears do NOT need another running back.
- a punter or kicker – Enough said
Overall, the Chicago Bears need to get a franchise quarterback. Can they do it tonight? Perhaps, but it will take a trade to move up into the top 10 picks to get one of the five quarterbacks that they likely covet. With Lawrence and Wilson gone in the top 2, it comes down to who San Francisco drafts third. Then if Pace wants either of the two remaining quarterbacks, he might move up. If not, he needs to get more offensive tackles to bolster the line, more receivers to give the Bears offense more weapons, or a cornerback who can improve the Bears secondary after losing one-time Pro Bowler Kyle Fuller at left corner. If Pace can give Head Coach Matt Nagy some productive starters this weekend, both Pace and Nagy have a chance to improve the Bears and stay employed. If not, it might be somebody else’s job to build the Bears roster as soon as next year’s draft, the one in April 2022.