Draft Night Rewind
Justin Fields is a Chicago Bear.
I say that now sometimes. Sporadically. I’ll be walking to my car in the morning before work and it will just roll off my tongue, almost without a thought behind it.
Justin Fields is a Chicago Bear.
It almost didn’t feel real when we drafted him. It just didn’t make sense. There was no way Justin Fields should have slid the way he did, and past the teams that he did.
To put it bluntly, for Fields to fall to the Bears was nothing short of a miracle. There were so many variables that had no business going the Bears’ way, but somehow did. For one remarkable night in April, the stars aligned. And here’s what it took.
How Did We Get Here
First and foremost, the 49ers had to prefer Trey Lance over Justin Fields. For all intents and purposes, the draft started at the 3rd selection. Everyone knew the Jags and Jets were going Lawrence and Wilson at 1 and 2. The real question was, who would be the third QB off the board?
San Francisco got their pick of the litter, and for some reason, decided that Lance was their guy over Fields. And so Fields remained.
Next up was the Falcons, and with a new offensive-minded head coach and aging QB, could have easily selected Fields. Fields is from Georgia, and could’ve learned behind perennial pro-bowler Matt Ryan for a year or two. Instead, the Falcons selected a Kyle Pitts, tight end out of Florida with the fourth pick. The highest a tight end has ever been drafted. And so Fields remained.
Bengals were up next, but were never going to draft a QB. They took the #1 receiver off the board and didn’t think twice about it.
That bring us to the Dolphins pick, but honestly, all of the next five picks are when things get really unbelievable, especially in hindsight.
At #6, The Dolphins have to decide they’re happier with Tua and Jaylen Waddle, over Fields.
At #7, The Lions have to decide they’re happier with Goff and Penei Sewell, over Fields.
At #8, The Panthers have to decide they’re happier with Sam Darnold and Jaycee Horn, over Fields.
At #9, The Broncos have to decide they’re happier with either Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater, and Patrick Surtain, over Justin Fields.
And at #10, the Eagles have to decide they’re happier with Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith, over Justin Fields.
They all did.
Now I’m not saying any of these teams are wrong in the choices they made. But really, what are the odds that every one of those teams decided that they weren’t going to address their QB position. Every one???
The Darkest Timeline
Justin Fields surviving past the 9th pick to Denver felt like the biggest miracle to me. Such an insanely talented roster, coupled with two big question marks at their quarterback position, it seemed like a no brainer. Not to mention, even if they were set on not taking a QB, there was very real momentum behind Denver moving that pick in a package that would have sent Aaron Rodgers to Denver. One reporter said hours before the draft that the trade was almost a done deal.
Could you imagine that reality? The Packers move on from Aaron Rodgers, only to gain Justin Fields and likely a couple more firsts as well. Bears on the other hand, miss out on Fields, wouldn’t be able to leapfrog the Pats for Mac Jones, missed out on Russell Wilson, and will likely be rolling out Andy Dalton and Nick Foles as their QB’s for Week 1. Pace and Nagy would be on the hotseat every week. We would absolutely have to enter a full rebuild as our best rookie contracts begin to expire, and the primes of our best defenders would be all but wasted. While the Packers would have avoided a rebuild once again, and likely got themselves their QB for the next 15 years.
It’s a scary thought. It almost feels like that’s how things were supposed to go. That’s how bad the Bears luck had been when it came to QB’s. But not this time. Somehow, despite the insane amount of talent already in the Denver defensive back room, the Broncos selected a cornerback.
And that brings us to pick #11. The cherry on top. Philadelphia actually traded with Dallas to get the #10 pick, swooping the Alabama receiver away from the waiting arms of New York. With New York’s top prospect now off the board, Dave Gettlemen began to entertain trade talks with teams below him.
Keep in mind, Dave Gettlemen had never traded back in the first round before, and there was a bit of a running joke that Gettlemen didn’t know how to trade down at all. Despite that, Ryan Pace had talks earlier in the day with the Giants organization about this exact situation.
If the Giants guy wasn’t there, and the Bears’ guy was, there was an agreement already in place between the two teams. And as luck would have it, exactly that situation had arisen. The Giants banner flashed off of the screen, and the trade alert popped up. Seconds later, the Chicago Bears logo occupied the “On the Clock” section. It was happening. Bears were making their selection, and Justin Fields was still there.
I’d be lying if I said I felt completely confident in that moment. There was a part of me genuinely terrified that the Bears pick would be announced and Mac Jones would be the choice. I was already convincing myself that I could live with it.
“Even if it is Mac Jones, I’ll be happy. He’ll be a great pro”
I was lying. It just felt so very Bears. Everything we needed to go right, had gone right, and I was still sure we were going to bungle the pick. I was preparing for disappointment.
But it never came.
It was actually quite the opposite. Carlos Nelson, Bears superfan, would take the stage and utter the words that I’m sure we’ve all heard 1000 times by now.
“My Chicago Bears select Justin Fields, quarterback, Ohio State.”