Is Quarterback In Play With Bears Holding Top Pick In The Draft?

Fifty-three years later, the coin has bounced the right way for the Chicago Bears. It remains to be seen if they will find their Terry Bradshaw but the Bears hold rights to the first pick in the upcoming draft, thanks to Houston’s unlikely comeback victory over Indianapolis.

The Bears haven’t had the first pick since 1947, when they selected running back Bob Fenimore over Army Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis. They shared the NFL’s worst record with the Pittsburgh in 1969 but the Steelers won a coin toss for the first pick. They took Bradshaw, an unsung star from Louisiana Tech, while the Bears traded to the second pick to Green Bay.

The Bears lost their 10th consecutive game on Sunday, falling to the Minnesota Vikings 29-13 and finishing the season 3-14. They seemed set for the second pick in the draft but Houston won for the second time in the last three weeks, raising the Texans’ record to 3-13-1.

The Texans’ coaches and players showed they did not want to pick first. They closed within 31-30 on a 28-yard, fourth-down pass from Davis Mills to tight end Jordan Akins with 50 seconds left, and then went for a two-point conversion rather than kicking the extra point to get the game into overtime. Mills again hit Akins with a pass, providing the winning margin in a 32-31 victory.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young had been viewed as the Texans’ most likely pick at 1/1, with the Bears addressing their defensive needs with the second overall pick. The Bears now must weigh whether the chance to select Young or another quarterback alters their plan to build around Justin Fields, whom they traded up to select with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Fields, who was sidelined on Sunday because of a strained hip, ran for 1,143 yards this season, only 63 short of Lamar Jackson’s rushing record for quarterbacks. He led the league with 7.1 yards per rush and is tied for 12th with eight rushing touchdowns.

But there remains some concern about Fields’ role in the Bears’ passing game, which has been the worst in the league. Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle were 13-for-27 for 141 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the season-ending loss to Minnesota. The Bears finished the season with an NFL-low 2,219 passing yards.

Pro Football Focus ranked Fields 23rd among quarterbacks entering Week 18, placing him between Jared Goff and Sam Darnold. NFL Next Gen stats gives him an 85.2 passing rating, which ranked 27th (between Mac Jones and Matt Ryan) before Sunday’s games.

Fields grades out behind only Josh Allen and Jackson as a rushing quarterback by PFF but entering the final week 36th in passing, between Baker Mayfield and Taylor Heinicke. Fields has been sacked a league-worst 55 times, which illustrates the need for major upgrades around him.

The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs reports the Bears will evaluate draft-eligible quarterbacks despite General Manager Ryan Poles’ support of Fields. In addition to Young, that means the Bears will perform due diligence on Kentucky’s Will Levis and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

But Poles and his scouts would have to be convinced that one of those players can be a difference-maker like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen to back off their investment in Fields. They have eight picks in the draft, including five in the first four rounds, and will be tempted to trade the first overall pick as a means to filling needs all over the field.

Fields, who has two years left on his rookie contract, would likely have major value if the Bears decided to go another direction at quarterback. It’s one of the intriguing scenarios available to Poles thanks to the Texans’ upset of Indianapolis.

Chicago sports talk just got a lot more interesting.