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With the 2021 NFL draft fast approaching, the Chicago Bears find themselves on the clock. This is the first season in the post-Lovie Smith era, and the Bears are looking to close the gap between themselves and the Green Bay Packers. They have the opportunity to do so in next year’s draft, and have a relatively high draft position for a team coming off a 6-10 season. The Bears will be looking to add young talent for both sides of the ball, but it is on the defensive side of the ball that they most need to address. The Bears allowed 27.9 points per game in the 2021 season, the third-worst mark in the league.
The Chicago Bears had a largely successful season, finishing with a record of 11-5 and winning the NFC North. However, they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were able to overcome a first-half deficit to win 24-14. Despite the loss, the Bears’ season was notable for a number of reasons. The Bears became the first team since the merger to have two players throw for over 4000 yards in a season, with first-round pick Drew Brees throwing for 4144 and second-round pick Rodney Anderson throwing for 4351.
Below is a detailed profile of the Chicago Bears’ 2021 recruiting class. I also picked up a free agent who was highly regarded on many forums. The prospects are ranked in order of selection. Information on the outlook was obtained from the following sources:
In each prospect’s profile, I have indicated the ranking of their respective big board, based on the average of the 12 analyzed big boards. In addition, I included the Bigboard scores of the three analysts who gave the highest scores for this position. Analysts’ estimates by position are below, and the full analysis can be found here.
*Note that the Todd McShay and Scouts Inc. 2021 bigboards were identical, so they are considered one analyst for the purposes of this article.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Fields grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia. He was excellent at basketball, baseball (SS) and football. He started playing QB at a young age and began working with a personal QB coach in high school. He started six games on the high school team as a sophomore and advanced in his junior season. In the middle of his senior season, he broke his finger and had to cut his season short. Yet in his final season in 2017, he was named Class 6A Player of the Year.
A five-star recruit out of high school, he was considered the best dual-threat QB in the country and the second-best recruit in the country, just behind Trevor Lawrence. After initially deciding to go to Penn State as a junior, he transferred to Georgia State six months later. After a season at Georgia as Jake Fromm’s backup, he decided to transfer when it became clear he wouldn’t get a fair chance to replace Fromm. Fields transferred to Ohio State with immediate transfer rights after denying allegations that Fields was the target of racial slurs by a Georgia baseball player, who was later fired by the team.
Fields’ father is a police officer and served in the Navy. He played one season as a midfielder for Eastern Kentucky. His younger sister plays softball at Georgia.
When you have an arm like Fields and you can put the ball anywhere you want, I don’t understand why there is such controversy around this kid. Although he still has a lot of work to do, Fields has incredible potential and could become one of the best QBs in the NFL with the right coaching approach. The confidence in his arm is evident, but he doesn’t throw many interceptions despite his aggressiveness. Fields has prototypical size and stature, as well as a wide range of athletic ability. In college, he worked almost exclusively with a shotgun.
Fields fits well with RPO or zone read concepts and can thrive on the West Coast. The Ohio State player’s leadership skills are evident, and he’s willing to play through the pain. Fields needs to speed up the handling on the next level and not hold the ball too long. He can take unnecessary hits if he is confused by defensive looks. He needs to get his mechanics in order and improve his spiral. Fields has some flaws that hamper his game, but his athletic ability and stamina are hard to ignore.
- Led his teams to a 35-6 record (high school: 15-4 / college: 20-2)
- In college, he scored 86 TDs against 9 INTs.
- 70% of his college passes were through the air (vs. YAC) (PFF).
- He only had 18 games in his college career that could be called turnovers (PFF).
- Adjusted success rate of 81% by 2020 (PFF)
- Excellent ball accuracy/placement
- Elite Sportsman tool set with unused hand potential
- A rare combination of size and mobility
- Showed resilience by weathering injuries
- Selected as team captain in 2020
- Balance with equal stability in every game.
- Ultra-competitive, his mentality is well received by his teammates.
- Strong arm with the ability to push the ball
- An explosive runner who runs ahead
- Predetermined play, often chooses the snap and ignores the best options.
- Poorly developed visual field, fixation on preferential reading (sometimes intentional).
- The mechanics of the throw can be confusing and not result in a clear spiral (unused arm talent).
- A penchant for heroism can lead to poor ball possession and injuries.
- Must speed up the elimination process after a slump, to increase the sense of urgency in reading.
- Showed a preference for making strong throws instead of taking what the defense gives him.
- 12 losses in 22 games
Fields wanted to emulate Russell Wilson, and since size is the only real difference between their abilities, I thought it would be a good fit. I’ve also heard people say that Cam Newton is smaller. Donovan McNabb is the most likely match for him. Fields is a more explosive runner than McNabb, but I feel like they play similar, like athletes with big hands who want to get downfield. Mariota will be the end result. Similar athletic ability and size, from similar universities, with a history of QBs bringing in more than their individual talent.
Photo: Pro Football Network
Bitches Jenkins was born and raised in Topeka, KS. He started playing football when he was seven. He was a star athlete in high school and played baseball, basketball and football. He played right guard in high school and was named state champion his senior year. He was a three-star recruit and ranked 85th in his class. Jenkins chose Oklahoma State over offers from Kansas State, Louisville, Missouri and Nebraska. He graduated with a degree in sociology in 2020.
Jenkins was a four-year starter at Oklahoma State, playing 26 games at the RT position, seven games at the LT position and two games at the RG position. He showed versatility and a high IQ, which allowed him to take multiple positions on the OL team when needed. Jenkins did not allow a sack as a junior or senior and played in the high-speed offense.
On the field, Jenkins tends to block hitters early, using his good body control to stay blocked. He wants to end the fight with a strike, and once he has the advantage, he gets rid of his opponent faster than the Frenchman did in the fourth period. Jenkins suffers from balance issues when he leans on blocks. He prefers strength to technique, which can lead to problems with fast strikers.
- Only 2 sacks in the last 3 years and no sacks in the last 2 years (PFF).
- Only 3 QB passes in the last 3 years (PFF).
- A frame with brute force
- It explodes with force
- Strong, aggressive hands repel the sliding pass.
- Has quick feet to reach his landmarks in maneuvers and close the rim.
- Moves quickly through the efficient combined units, often seeking and finding work.
- The coaches speak of him as a highly intelligent man…
- Angry and ends up with an attitude
- The imperfect length forces him to catch up when he misses and allows long-handled putters to hit him in the chest.
- The hip flexor rests more on the upper half of the body than on the legs.
- Lack of speed when running in circles due to technical deficiencies.
- Hand placement and timing are not coordinated in the middle of a shuffle.
- Does not have time to react to internal movements
Photo: David Carson on the St. John’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Larry Borom grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. His first love was basketball, playing in the AAU club. In high school, he was talked into joining the football team his freshman year. He never played football. In the four years of experience, he has played on both sides of the line, including OG and OT. He was a three-star recruit in high school and was considered #62 on the list of the best defensive players in his class.
Borom was a two-year starter at Mizzou, played one game at LT, two games at LG and 16 games at RT. Mizzou relied on a lot of movement, a high tempo and a professional style of play. Borom’s 2020 tape was very good in the first half of the season, but it went downhill in the second half. He is a massive man, with fairly good motor skills and a mean streak. His acting isn’t always pretty, but he’s a killer from start to finish. His heavy hands and ability to anchor are assets that should take him to the next level. To succeed in the pros, he will need to become more technical in his timing and hand placement to mask his lack of range and flexibility.
- Only 2 sacks in the last 3 years (PFF).
- He has only allowed 5 QB attacks (PFF) in the last 3 years.
- Large and well proportioned body
- Reasonably good balance and movement for his size
- The force of the hull and the anchors can be absorbed.
- Body strength allows you to utilize your body size
- Physically strong hands as he lands and tries to strike before he gets hit.
- Forced actions in the run game, ability to impose his will.
- Not long enough for the sliders to get into the frame
- Moves slowly, pushes fast arrows away if they don’t land and holds on.
- Poor leverage, often loses leverage in the middle of a match.
- Inconsistent hand placement and timing; may result in holding or missed blocks.
- Poor technique in passing and running.
Photo: Nell Redmond.
Khalil Herbert grew up in South Florida and began playing football at a young age. He played both offense and defense until he graduated from high school. As a senior, he transferred to a new school to increase enrollment and joined a high school team with future FBS players like Patrick Surtin and Tyson Campbell. Herbert also played sports in high school. He was named three-star and was considered the 143rd running back in his class.
Kansas was the only Big Five school Herbert offered. In his first three years at Kansas, he shared the workload with Pookah Williams. Williams outperformed him in his final year on the depth chart, and Hebert opted to quit after the first four games to preserve his layoff. The 2019 season has led to a strained relationship between Herbert and new Kansas head coach Les Miles. Hebert transferred to Virginia Tech for the 2020 season, where he became second-team All-ACC and became the ACC leader in yards gained. While in Kansas, he has already earned a degree in business administration.
His older brother was an athlete at D2 St. Louis. She was a member of St. Augustine High School and won four national championships. Another older brother played at Stanford from 2013 to 2016. Herbert was born with 12 fingers on his hands and 11 on his feet. His nickname is Sock.
Herbert broke out of Virginia Tech’s schedule last season with the inside/outside zone. During his time at Kansas, Herbert was prone to swinging, but at Virginia Tech he found consistency. He became Virginia Tech’s leading 1,000-yard rusher since 2015. Herbert is a balanced athlete with good field vision. He shows a strong ability to read the blocks in front of him and attack the void at the next level as soon as it arises. Herbert has shown a tendency to rely too much on the outside break and is a relatively unproven receiver/pass blocker, but he is able to create plays with his feet, eyes, and decisions combined.
- 57% of his yards in 2020 came after contact (Brugler).
- Only one ball loss in his entire college career, over 500 touches (Brugler).
- Strong lower body athleticism and explosive reaction to bridge gaps.
- Demonstrates speed and good field knowledge in the ZBS offense.
- She lowers her hips and wriggles through the traffic to find daylight.
- Contact physics
- Ensure the safety of the ball carrier
- Coaches praise his ability to learn and focus during meetings.
- Provides the experience of recurring strokes
- A trend towards over-use of east-west roads
- Can sometimes go to bed early and run into his own blockers.
- He is unproven and lacks experience as a goalie and pass blocker.
- Persistent injuries were a constant problem
Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images
Dazz Newsom grew up in Hampton, Virginia. In high school, he played both sides of the football field (CB and WR). As a senior, he moved to RB and collected 35 TDs in all three phases (offense, defense, ST). Newsome was also active in athletics. He was a three-star recruit in high school and was the 70th ranked athlete in his class (no position). When he enrolled at North Carolina, he expected to play CB and be a return man, but he transferred to WR in his first year. His father played LB at Virginia Tech and played two seasons in the CFL. His older brother played fullback and WR at Virginia Tech from 2013-2017.
Newsome was a four-year starter at North Carolina, where he worked primarily in the slot. During his time at North Carolina, he became one of the best pass catchers in school history. Newsome is a versatile threat who can create explosive game situations in the run game, receiving game and return game. They have good eyesight, evasion skills and spatial awareness when walking in open terrain. He’s a top notch opponent, but he needs to learn to be more detailed in his game. Newsome needs to become more disciplined in his routes and more reliable, but his athleticism and incisiveness make him predictable as a slot prospect with the added benefit of being a return man.
- Has made over 14 interceptions (PFF) in the last 3 years.
- Won 11/16 contested fishing opportunities (CFOs) over the past two years.
- Small in stature with a good weight and lots of muscles
- Good reception with his hands, not his body.
- Moves easily from the receiver of the pass to the ball carrier.
- Comfortable working in the middle
- A good dump, the ability to shake on a safety net and the vision to find the weak spots.
- Plus the ability to return balls
- Average size and radius of the plug
- He watches where he goes before he finishes catching (he takes false steps, misses, falls).
- Routing is not detailed, freelancing can cause time issues.
- Slot only option
- He served a one-game suspension for oversleeping and missing practice.
Photo: Sports Illustrated
Thomas Graham, Jr. grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He started playing soccer when he was six years old and it became his favorite sport. In high school, he played all four seasons on the varsity team. In his final season, he played on both sides of the football (CB and WR). He was also an athlete. Graham recruited four stars in high school and ranked 11th among CBs in his class. His father played fullback at San Jose City College until academics limited his potential. Graham’s older sister was an All-State runner and currently attends UNLV on scholarship.
Graham was a three-year starter at Oregon, where he played both human and zone concepts as an outfielder. He is considered a confident and competitive coach. Plays with a high football IQ, quickly understands what is in front of him and reacts immediately. He has a talent for smashing transmission windows. He plays with a good sense of urgency, but is not an explosive athlete and lacks the athletic ability to recover from mistakes. Although he is not a high level physical player, he is learning the game and trying to follow routes and plays.
- Forced 15.9% of targets (PFF) over the last two years.
- 8 INTs and 40 APs in his 40-game college career.
- Efficient in its fall and controlled in its movements
- Shows good hip discipline with an easy turn and stands up well to shadow passes.
- Very good at attacking the anchor point.
- Strong ball production (8 INTs, 40 PDs, 40 plays).
- Willingness to tackle with good grabbing technique and ability to finish the tackle.
- Good direction in the blocks against the race
- Coaches describe him as intelligent, mature and able to learn.
- He lacks explosiveness.
- Average speed for the position (4.49 on the 40-yard run); struggles to cover distance if a WR comes up.
- Only average movement speed to attack the conquering point
- Defensive spacing must improve to compensate for average speed in the short zone.
Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Hiris Tonga grew up in West Valley, UT. In high school he played TE, DE and also participated in practices at the OL position. His high school career included three different head coaches, multiple injuries and only 10 wins. In his senior year, he had problems and had to miss his senior season. Tonga also played rugby in high school. A three-star recruit, he signed with Utah, his junior team, and transferred to BYU the following year to follow his defensive coordinator. BYU moved him from DE to Inside DL because of his length.
In high school, the Tonga family adopted Hyiris because his mother could no longer care for him. His father wasn’t in the picture.
Tonga played three years at BYU as a nose guard in a multi-front scheme. He often lined up in zero technique, one-on-one with the center. He had a difficult childhood, but found direction in life through his foster family, church and BYU football. The Tonga is an aggressive space eater and very active in the trenches. He uses his speed and upper body strength to overcome blocks. Although he has improved his condition and track ability, his fill level and anchoring should be more consistent. He will be limited to third line positions in the NFL, but his strength and use of his arm will work well in a rotation NT role.
- The percentage of matches stopped in 2020 (9.3%) is in the 90th percentile. Percentile among Colleges (PFF).
- Large frame with functional mass
- Can lead against double teams and take away power
- Active hands with bad intentions
- Keeps an eye on the backfield, above average pursuit for the NT.
- A physical defender who rarely misses
- In 2020, he adopted a rigorous training plan that transformed his body.
- Not long enough.
- Plays with poor leverage, which reduces his base strength.
- Lack of mobility in hips and ankles to change direction
- Can be put on the track by more explosive athletes
- Aggressive hands may not have a target
- Lack of secondary techniques in the pass rush, rough pass rush toolbox.
- Has had some injury problems, including back surgery in 2018.
Photo: Pro Football Network
Raised in Silver Springs, Massachusetts. As a kid, I played football occasionally, but mostly basketball. After transferring to a male-only boarding school his freshman year, he transferred as a sophomore to continue his basketball career. Although he hadn’t played football since sixth grade, he went to the coaches and joined the team to help out on defense. In his senior year, he played the LB and WR positions.
Snowden was a three-star recruit when he got out of high school and was ranked as the #100 LB in his class. As a senior, recruiting for football took precedence over recruiting for basketball, accepting a Virginia scholarship and turning down high school basketball scholarships.
Snowden played three years for Virginia as a WILL LB in a base 3-4 scheme. He has been a basketball player for most of his life, but since switching to football he has proven himself to be a versatile defender. He is a tall, agile athlete with good read/reaction skills and range. Plays at the top of the offense physically, but has yet to add volume to his game. The choice of schedule will go a long way in helping Snowden establish himself in the NFL. His athletic ability and size are an intriguing combination as a hybrid EDGE player in a 3-4 scheme.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How many draft picks do the bears have in 2021?
Superficially, the Chicago Bears have their best team in nearly a decade. The team’s defensive line is anchored by three top-flight players in nose tackle Anthony Zettel, defensive end Akiem Hicks, and defensive end Mitch Unrein. This trio is backed up by more depth than the Bears have seen in years, but it’s unclear if this is a good thing. After all, the Bears had a top-ten defense in 2017, and still finished with a bottom-ten record. The NFL Draft is an annual event that takes place in March, when the National Football League’s 32 teams select the rights to incoming players who have finished their college football careers. Teams are awarded selections based on their record in the prior season, with teams earning higher picks that had worse records getting to pick earlier in the draft. The draft lasts seven rounds, with each team selecting a total of 256 players.
Who is Justin Fields getting drafted to?
This year, Georgia’s Justin Fields has been one of the most talked-about names in NCAA football. The junior’s passing numbers have been the stuff of legend: he threw for over 10,000 yards and 113 touchdowns in his three years on campus, and he nearly broke the NCAA record for touchdown passes in a single season this year. So, are the Chicago Bears the team for him? The Bears had a fairly mediocre year in 2018, finishing 7-9, despite getting a fairly high draft pick. One of the biggest stories in sports is the soon to be NFL draft, where the best football players in the country get together to be drafted to the NFL. This year’s draft is a little different than years past, with many teams looking to get a quarterback and many great quarterbacks coming out. One of the biggest stories is who is Justin Fields getting drafted to.
Who did the Bears draft today?
After an entirely uninspiring 2018 season, the Chicago Bears decided to make a few changes, and one of those changes involved drafting players in the 2021 draft. The Bears’ management decided to go after defensive players, namely linebackers. Although most of the players they selected didn’t make an impact during the season, the team did have high hopes for one player in particular: Calvin Hodge. After trading Khalil Mack to the Raiders earlier in the season, the Bears had a big need at the DE position. They were hoping to land one of the elite prospects still available in this year’s draft, but all of them were gone by the time they were on the clock at 3, so they settled for Da’Shawn Hand, who they had been targeting for a while anyway.
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