2021 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears pick quarterback Justin Fields from Ohio State University in first round, 11th pick

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears traded up nine spots with the New York Giants to draft Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

A two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the year, Fields becomes the second quarterback drafted by general manager Ryan Pace since he was hired in 2015. The Bears traded up a spot in 2017 to take Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky is now backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo after the Bears decided to let him go as a free agent.

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The Bears made the playoffs for the second time in three years, though they got in as the seventh seed in an expanded field. They went 8-8 in the regular season for the second year in a row, then lost at New Orleans in a convincing wild-card loss.

Even so, chairman George McCaskey opted to stick with Pace and coach Matt Nagy. But the heat was on them to get this pick right.

The Bears need help on the offensive line and at receiver, not to mention a quarterback to groom behind newly arrived veteran Andy Dalton. But there are also issues on defense, particularly after letting former All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller go for salary cap reasons. They also could use another edge rusher opposite Khalil Mack after Robert Quinn managed just two sacks last season.

Fields is Chicago’s first opening-round pick since 2018, when they took linebacker Roquan Smith at No. 8. Smith is the Bears’ only first-round pick still on the team since Pace was hired in 2015.

They traded their 2019 and 2020 first-rounders to the Oakland Raiders for Khalil Mack prior to the 2018 season.

Receiver Kevin White (No. 7 in 2015), linebacker Leonard Floyd (No. 9, 2016) and Trubisky were either outright busts or simply did not perform the way Chicago hoped.The draft began their live broadcast on ABC7 and ESPN, with round one starting at 7 p.m.Rounds two and three take place on Friday at 6 p.m. and the remaining rounds will air Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

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The Bears were expected to look at help on the offensive line or at wide receiver. Some mock drafts had the Bears trading up in order to take one of the top quarterbacks such as Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

The Bears also have draft picks in the second, third and fifth rounds as well as four sixth-round picks.

Historic night for Northwestern

Two players from Northwestern University were also drafted in the first round. The L.A. Chargers took OL Rashawn Slater at No. 13 and the Cleveland Browns took DB Greg Newsome II at No. 26.

This is the first time Northwestern has had two players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Only eight Wildcats have ever been drafted in the first round.

ABC7 Chicago contributed to this post.

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