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Justin Fields: What are the Chicago Bears getting in their new quarterback?

Justin Fields' former Ohio State team-mates Trey Sermon and Shaun Wade discuss the new Chicago Bears quarterback: "He's probably going to be a Hall of Famer in the future."

Justin Fields. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Chicago Bears have their quarterback. The Chicago Bears are back in business. 

As the 2021 NFL Draft loomed many wondered where Justin Fields would land after weeks of draft stock yo-yoing; as the 2021 NFL Draft loomed many wondered whether the Bears were in play for a first-round quarterback post-Mitchell Trubisky.

At approximately 2:37am UK time on Thursday night, the two teased an answer in unison as general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy tempted New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman to trade back for the first time in nine drafts with the kind of bold move indicative of two men knowingly clinging onto their jobs in 2021.

And so as the Bears emptied their wallet of the No 20 overall pick, a 2021 fifth-rounder and 2022 first and fourth-rounders to acquire Big Blue's slot at No 11, only one man looked likely: Justin Fields.

NFL Draft 2021 - Who went where (Picks 1-5)

(1) Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
(2) New York Jets Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
(3) San Francisco 49ers Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
(4) Atlanta Falcons Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
(5) Cincinnati Bengals Ja'Marr Chase, WR, LSU

'Polarising' might have been a word for the Ohio State quarterback, who up until 2020 had been a consensus top-three pick for some time. But rather than accentuating the undeniable talent in the build-up to the Draft, Fields found his work ethic unjustly questioned and his ability to look beyond his first read and through his full progression overthought.

"It is definitely nonsense," former Ohio State running back Trey Sermon told Sky Sports. "If the first guy is open, you're going to throw it to him so I don't know why people say 'he can't get past the first read'. That just doesn't make sense.

"That just goes to guys not really knowing. He's a great athlete and I know he'll be a dominant player in the NFL."

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How about that? If the first read is there, why not get the ball out? When your receivers are as gifted at getting open as Ohio State's Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are, sometimes the first read is the right read.

Fields' leadership and commitment meanwhile faced uncomfortable scrutiny as 'last guy in, first guy out' murmurs were sourced or fabricated, Sermon, too, shutting down such claims as he recalled his team-mate willingly showing him the ropes upon his transfer from Oklahoma to Ohio State.

"He's a great leader and he was there to pick up the team and the offense," Sermon added. "Whether he was leading by example or just being vocal, just getting guys going and just motivating everybody. He was that person.

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"Everybody looked to him to step up and he did every time and he is just a phenomenal athlete. He's such a versatile quarterback. He's very accurate and he's fast as well. He makes plays out of nothing."

Fields finished his career as a Buckeye 423 of 618 passing (68.4 percent) for 5,701 yards, 67 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, alongside 1,133 rushing yards for 19 scores from 260 carries.

Within that came a phenomenal 2019 in which he went 208 of 308 passing for 3,273 yards and a nation-best 41-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. On top of that he added 471 yards and 10 touchdowns from 123 carries on the ground, flaunting the traits of a quarterback perfectly equipped for the modern NFL.

The highlight of a truncated 2020 campaign came in the form of his 78.6 completion percentage and six touchdown passes as he out-performed Clemson's Trevor Lawrence in the College Playoff semi-final.

"You can expect a great great leader that's a dawg and that's all about winning," added former Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade. "He's a great leader, he speaks up, he's a great friend, he has great characteristics.

"Justin has the best tools of a quarterback you could ever have with the speed and the arm, with knowing how to pick up blitzes and getting close to people. He's just a great overall person in general.

"Justin could do anything in life and that's the type of person he is. Without football I know Justin would be successful. He's a great athlete.

"In the NFL I know a lot of people are probably been talking down about his ability and stuff like that but I know he's going to be a great NFL quarterback. He's probably going to be a Hall of Famer in the future. I'm definitely proud of him."
Shaun Wade on Ohio State teammate Justin Fields

The Bears are welcoming a quarterback with the finesse to put outstanding touch on his passing, consistent poise in the pocket, conviction when throwing into tight avenues, decisiveness to get the ball out and elite athleticism to evade pressure as an explosive threat outside the pocket.

Any queries over his toughness were answered in 2019's win over Michigan when Fields exited the game for treatment after a strong hit, before returning in a knee brace and proceeding to toss a dime to Garrett Wilson for a 30-yard touchdown from a skewed arm angle while dodging tackles and rolling out to his left.

And once again in his six touchdown-outing against Clemson, when he re-entered the game after fracturing his ribs to dismantle the Tigers and avenge the previous season's semi-final defeat.

NFL Draft 2021 - Who went where (Picks 6-15)

(6) Miami Dolphins Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
(7) Detroit Lions Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
(8) Carolina Panthers Jaycee Horn, South Carolina, CB
(9) Denver Broncos Patrick Surtain II, Alabama, CB
(10) Philadelphia Eagles (from Dallas) DeVonta Smith, Alabama, WR
(11) Chicago Bears (from New York Giants) Justin Fields, Ohio State, QB
(12) Dallas Cowboys (from Philadelphia) Micah Parsons, Penn State, LB
(13) Los Angeles Chargers Rashawn Slatar, Northwestern, OT
(14) New York Jets (from Minnesota) Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC, G
(15) New England Patriots Mac Jones, Alabama, QB

Wade also cites the time Fields took it upon himself to block for running back Sermon to assist a 64-yard surge against Michigan State. For his former team-mates, he ticks all the boxes.

"With that strong arm it's definitely tough to play against," continued Wade. "You get used to him because you practice all the time but it's definitely tough for others.

"Even like that Clemson game he's putting the ball 60 yards down the field with pressure, getting hit in the ribs and then coming back and finishing the game. A lot of quarterbacks they're tough but they're not as tough as him to still come and throw a 60-yard ball after getting hit in the ribs like that.

"Running down the field with Trey Sermon and making that block. Quarterbacks do that but they don't get down the field that far, they'll probably get 15 yards, he ran about 60 yards with Trey Sermon to make that block. You just don't see quarterbacks that do that."

Awaiting Fields is an armory consisting of an immediate No 1 wide receiver in Allen Robinson, a star in-waiting in Darnell Mooney, a now-heightened ceiling for tight end Cole Kmet and a running back in David Montgomery who was superb down the stretch in 2020.

While a breakout season offering flashes of Patrick Mahomes-like flair catapulted Zach Wilson to the No 2 overall pick, it seemingly came down to Alabama's Mac Jones and North Dakota State's Trey Lance for the 49ers at No. 3, the latter's enormous potential tickling Kyle Shanahan's fancy in the end.

There was a moment of steeliness on the face of Fields as his name was announced on Thursday; that a quarterback seeking to punish those that snubbed him was united with a Bears organisation eager to get its own back after years of ridicule over their 2017 Draft mishap seems a particularly fitting marriage.

As far as the brass in Chicago are concerned, they perhaps come away believing they snagged the second-best quarterback available.

NFL Draft 2021 - Who went where (Picks 16-32)

(16) Arizona Cardinals Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
(17) Las Vegas Raiders Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
(18) Miami Dolphins Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami
(19) Washington Football Team Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
(20) New York Giants (from Chicago) Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
(21) Indianapolis Colts Kwity Paye, DE, Michigan
(22) Tennessee Titans Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
(23) Minnesota Vikings Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
(24) Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
(25) Jacksonville Jaguars (from LA Rams) Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
(26) Cleveland Browns Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
(27) Baltimore Ravens Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
(28) New Orleans Saints Payton Turner, DE, Houston
(29) Green Bay Packers Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
(30) Buffalo Bills Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami
(31) Baltimore Ravens (from Kansas City) Jayson Oweh, DE, Penn State
(32) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Joe Tryon, DE, Washington

"I can't really find anything you wouldn't like about him, I think he has tremendous talent for as far as his arm and athletic ability, he has all of that, and there's plenty of games over the past two years that makes you go 'that guy is really good, that guy makes good decisions'," said NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger.

"Somebody says he doesn't go through progressions, okay that does happen, it happens to a lot of quarterbacks, but none of these guys are finished products, they all have to improve and grow.

"I see him step into a dirty pocket, his first inclination isn't to just take off and run like most guys who can take off and run do, so I don't see that as a flaw for him.

"If you're being pressured in this business the way Mahomes gets pressured, you've got to move and throw, Justin Fields is as good as Trevor Lawrence or anybody in this draft."

Regardless of who starts Week One, Andy Dalton's reign as QB1 in Chicago lasted approximately 36 days. There's a new man in town.

Coverage of the NFL Draft continues on Sky Sports NFL on Friday and Saturday, with the second and third round picks taking place on Friday from midnight

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