September 20, 2021

Top 25 most important Bears in 2021: No. 4 Justin Fields

The Bears’ future will be in the hands of their 2021 first-round draft pick

Leading up to Bears training camp in late July, Shaw Local is counting down the top 25 most important Bears for the 2021 season.

What makes one player more important than another? That’s subjective, of course. But for our purposes it comes down to this: Are the Bears worse off if this player can’t play? Does this player have untapped potential or past greatness to live up to? Is his story going to be one fans follow closely this season?

Justin Fields might not be the best player on the Bears in 2021 (or maybe he will be), but he certainly is among the most important.

No. 4 Justin Fields

Position: Quarterback

NFL experience: Rookie

Looking back: Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded the team’s 20th overall pick, a fifth-round pick, next year’s first-round pick and next year’s fourth-round pick to the New York Giants in order to move up to No. 11 overall. The reward is rookie Justin Fields from Ohio State. Fields was one of the top college quarterbacks, leading the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoff national championship game. In eight games last season, he threw for 2,100 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 70.2% of his passes. He also ran for 383 yards and five touchdowns.

Trading for Fields was a bold move. The Bears are betting big that he will be a future star. He already has impressed with his athleticism and throwing ability at OTAs and minicamp this spring.

Looking forward: How this season plays out for Fields really is anybody’s guess. What’s clear is that the Bears aren’t feeling inclined to start him Week 1. Andy Dalton is going to be the starter Sept. 12 (barring a preseason injury). Dalton’s play – for better or worse – likely will determine when Fields sees his first snaps. Fans are going to be clamoring for Fields, and it will test the organization’s patience.

Whether or not Fields plays, this is a big year for his development. He needs to soak up everything about life as an NFL quarterback. Dalton and veteran Nick Foles are two great pros to study from. Chances are Fields will see the field at some point, and the Bears very well might have a better chance of winning with the 22-year-old rookie on the field. The fact is, no player on the roster is going to have a bigger impact on the team’s future than Fields. Whatever the Bears decide to do with him in 2021, it needs to be the right decision.

In case you missed it: Previous installments of the top 25

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.