May 13, 2021


Hub Arkush: It’ll be a while before we know if Bears hit the jackpot, but it sure feels good

“We put it all together, and we never know how it’s going to go, and this is where we’re at,” Matt Nagy said. “It’s a fun time, and here we are.

“Now, it’s always about drafting and developing. ... Now, it’s our jobs as coaches to develop. ... Now, it’s our job to make sure that we develop these players and make our team better.”

That was the Bears head coach Saturday night coming off a 72-hour bender that literally was 10-to-11 months in the making.

It feels like they did pretty well, but you have to read the full disclaimer.

You cannot put final or meaningful grades on an NFL draft until at least two and often three years later when we actually know what kind of NFL players these young men are. We can, however, report what kind of perceived values a team got based on the consensus rankings of these prospects, how well they attacked their greatest needs and how effectively they spent their available assets.

First though, there was one other critical test facing Ryan Pace and Nagy in this particular draft, and that one I can say without reservation they aced.

Listening to all the background noise coming from analysts, media and social media and off barstools across Bears nation, it sounds like they’ve completely changed the narrative and feel around their football team.

The image of this football team over the past few months has been all gloom and doom.

But we all woke up Sunday morning to a new excitement that hasn’t been felt around town in some time.

While the doubters still are out there and some even remain in full voice, most of what we’re hearing now is surprise and excitement that Pace found a way to address the team’s two greatest needs with prospects among the best at their positions, and many now are seeing the path to possible immediate improvement and a potential end to a seven-decade nightmare at the game’s most important position.

Justin Fields was the second most accomplished quarterback in this draft and does appear to be the best attempt to put a stake in that nightmare the team’s made since Jim McMahon.

Getting him at No. 11 as the fourth QB taken when he should have gone at No. 2 or No. 3, the pick is an A-.

The only reason it’s not a solid A or even A+ is that Pace did overpay, but doing what appeared almost impossible is going to be expensive.

How many Bears fans won’t love an A- at quarterback?

Teven Jenkins probably is the best tackle on the Bears right now, and he’s shown signs of being special.

Again, he overpaid – it is a disturbing trend with Pace – but Jenkins never should have been on the board at 39, and he had to go get him. This is another A- only because of price.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus on the 2020 season and the entire scouting process, Day 3 picks were the toughest to evaluate and make this year more difficult than they’ve ever been.

But fifth-round offensive tackle Larry Borom is a young man I was turned onto by several scouts a couple months ago, and he has a chance to be an excellent right tackle or guard.

This was a round the Bears didn’t have a pick in after the Fields trade. That Pace got this back in the Jenkins trade makes getting him here that much better, another A- or B+.

RB Khalil Herbert, WR Dazz Newsome, CB Thomas Graham Jr. and NT Khyiris Tonga all were very good college football players that were very productive, but were all still around in the sixth and seventh rounds because they are less than perfect prospects.

All, however, are solid values where they were taken. I had a low fourth- or high fifth-round grade on Tonga and believe he will make the team and play as a rookie.

All things considered, I have to give a way too early grade on this draft for the Bears an A- or a B+ and a job well done, and most of the real experts I talked to Saturday night and Sunday agree.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media