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The Chicago Bears really hit it out of the park with the 2021 draft. What's funny is that this draft mirrors the Bears' dumbfounding 2017 draft, but with an almost polar opposite outlook. In 2017, the Bears infamously traded up one spot to take Mitch Trubisky with the number 2 overall pick. At the time, Bears fans and sports pundits were scratching their heads wondering what the heck Ryan Pace was thinking, as Trubisky wasn't even projected to be the best QB in the draft, let alone the second best player overall. With the gift of hindsight, the Bears' pick looks even worse considering that both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were both available, and neither was drafted in the top 10. Other notable players from that draft whom the Bears passed on drafting include Jamal Adams (pick 6 to the Jets), Christian McCaffery (pick 8 to the Panthers), Marshon Lattimore (pick 11 to the Sants), and Evan Engram (pick 23 to the Giants).

Photo by Chicago Bears
The Bears got a steal at the 11th overall pick in quarterback Justin Fields from Ohio State.

The Bears once again traded up to select a QB in the first round. Many analysts listed Justin Fields as the 3rd best QB in the draft, but also acknowledged that the top 3 positions were close to being a toss-up. Fields could easily have been the third overall pick to the 49ers, but San Francisco opted to take Trey Lance instead. This meant that Fields was still available at pick 11, after both the Broncos and Eagles passed on selecting him. The Bears traded up with the Giants to select Fields 11th overall. Like I said, the situation resembles the 2017 draft, except instead of trading up one space to reach for a QB who everyone expected would be available much later, the Bears patiently waited to steal a top talent who had slipped to a later pick. Sure the Bears gave up their first-round pick for next year's draft, but they got a much better value from it this time around.

The Bears had a similar opportunity in the second round, trading up with the Panthers to take offensive tackle Teven Jenkins with the 7th pick of the second round. Jenkins was projected to be a first-round talent, but slipped to the second round. Once again, the Bears got excellent value for their pick. Fields may sit behind Nick Foles and/or Andy Dalton for a period of time, but Jenkins will likely be a started in week 1 (especially since the Bears promptly cut veteran tackle Charles Leno Jr. after drafting Jenkins). And even if Fields does sit behind one of the veterans, I fully expect that he'll be starting by the end of the season.

Not only are both Fields and Jenkins excellent picks in their own right (and excellent value), but they also compliment each other well: an elite passer and an elite pass protector. The fact that both slipped to later picks (or rounds) will also potentially mean that both will be playing with a chip on their shoulders.

Photo by Brett Deering, Getty Images
Fields can likely feel safe with offensive tackle Teven Jenkins blocking his blind side.

Oh, and there were other picks in the later rounds too!

The rest of the Bears' picks in the 5th, 6th, and 7th rounds (they had no 3rd or 4th round picks) were much less dramatic and much more pedestrian, but still good picks. These later picks all seemed geared more towards providing depth. They included another offensive tackle (Larry Borom from Missouri), a running back (Khalil Herbert from Virginia Tech), a receiver (Dazz Newsome from North Carolina), and a defensive tackle (Khyiris Tonga from BYU). These players will all likely backup established starters and fill-in in the case of injury.

Their other pick was a cornerback, Thomas Graham Jr. from Oregon. After the surprising decision to cut veteran corner Kyle Fuller, the Bears have to scramble to find a replacement. I'm surprised they waited until the 6th round to address this issue, taking another offensive tackle in the fifth round instead of looking for a corner. Plenty of corners were available in the 5th round, including Shemar Jean-Charles from Appalachian State, who lead the entire FBS in "passes defended" in 2020, and was selected by the Packers with the 178th overall pick.

Photo by Steve Luciano, AP Photos
The Bears will need to replace corner Kyle Fuller.

That being said, it's exceedingly difficult to judge the relative value of picks in the later rounds. They're all kind of interchangeable. Also, I'm so thrilled with the picks in the first two rounds that I honestly don't care about the later rounds. The Bears didn't shoot themselves in the foot with unnecessary trades or awful picks, and that's all you can really ask for in the later rounds.

It is worth noting that the Bears gave up a lot to trade up for Fields. With Mac Jones still available, it might not have been necessary to give up so much, as they could have waited a few more picks and taken Jones as a consolation prize. The Bears gave up their 2022 first-round pick and more in the trade for Fields, which means they likely won't be landing an elite cornerback like Derek Stingley from LSU in the 2022 draft.

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