It’s NFL Draft Combine week, and teams are starting to make moves, franchise tagging players, releasing players, and discussing trades and extensions with players’ representatives and opposing GM’s during draft class drills. In less than 2 weeks, free agency will begin.

The Chicago Bears have a monumental decision on their hands.

With the number 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, they could have their choice of any of the top QB’s in the draft class, which would presumably be Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman winner who many consider a the best QB coming into the NFL in the last 3 years at least.

On the other hand, Justin Fields finally started showing progress down the stretch last season, and with a new offensive staff, could finally be put in a position to succeed, especially as the Bears could trade down, acquire a boatload of assets, and pick the best player in this draft class, the generational talent in Marvin Harrison Jr.

The decision is incredibly hard, and no doubt Ryan Poles and the front office have been discussing it at length ever since the season ended. So what are the pros and cons of each side of the coin of this decision? Let’s do a deep dive:

 

Justin Fields vs Caleb Williams Scouting Report

First, we have to look at the two QB’s in question. Fields has flashed a lot until this point, but hasn’t been nearly consistent enough to where the Bears would definitely trade the 1st pick, though I will say in my opinion, since I see Caleb Williams as the clear best QB in this draft, if the Bears got the 2nd pick from Carolina instead of the 1st, they should 100% trade down a couple of spots and take Marvin Harrison Jr.

Fields has pretty clear strengths and weaknesses at this moment in time. He has elite accuracy throwing deep (20+ yards), does well leading his receivers on screens (think velocity on his throws), can extend plays to a great degree, and is the best rushing QB in the league after Lamar Jackson. His weaknesses are anticipatory throws (not an inability to read and process the field, that is different, he is fine to good in that regard), intermediate/middle of the field throws (though few were schemed by Luke Getsy), and taking too many sacks.

A lot of blame for these faults remaining from college definitely belongs on the coaching staff in Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy, as well as putting him in a bad situation personnel-wise his first two seasons so he’d develop these bad habits. While the weaknesses may be correctable under a better offensive staff with Shane Waldron, it’s a lot harder to develop and fix them going into year 4 than it would be to fix a rookie or year 2 QB.

Williams is a great runner and deep ball thrower, but not as good as Fields. Both of them read the field well, but Williams seems to be better in terms of anticipatory throws and the intermediate/middle of the field. His play extension might be better than Fields just by virtue of taking less sacks and throwing the ball more than running, even if Fields has better pure sack evasion. However, he also takes too many sacks. His other main weakness is not playing in structure enough. While he does make a lot of big plays turning down easy short passes, sometimes he fumbles or gets sacked instead, enough of it to be a concern. Still, as a prospect coming out, he is better than Fields coming out as a prospect.

 

Keeping Justin Fields, and Trading the first pick

Pros

Fields will improve in a new system and being in year 4, he would be better than a rookie QB

The haul received for the first pick will be huge, even if you just trade down to 2 or 3 and pick Marvin Harrison Jr

The rest of the team can be built up very well, giving Fields a supporting cast on both sides of the ball the Bears haven’t had in a long time

Fields was progressing last season, not as much as hoped but he was improving, unlike say, Mitchell Trubisky in year 3

There would be continuity and alignment with the head coach

Cons

Fields’ 5th year option is due, and while the number is fine (around $21 million), extension talks have to start soon, and the Bears would have to be all-in on him

If Fields doesn’t improve, the avenues to upgrade the QB position in 2025 don’t include the 1st pick most likely

A season without the playoffs likely results in an entirely new front office, coaching staff, QB

The possibility of passing on Williams who ends up a superstar

Keeping the first pick, drafting Caleb Williams, and Trading Justin Fields

Pros

Williams is a better prospect than Fields was, and maybe the best QB prospect in a long time

Resetting the QB contract so the Bears can spend lavishly on the rest of the roster like the 49ers

As a 1st overall pick, Williams walks into maybe the best situation ever in terms of supporting cast

Long-term, Williams might project as a top 5 QB with the proper coaching

The offensive staff is better equipped to develop a rookie QB than it was with Fields or Trubisky

Cons

The Bears likely won’t be as competitive next season with a rookie QB compared to year 4 Fields

The head coach isn’t aligned being first-year

You can’t get the haul for Fields you could get even form trading down just one or two spots

The possibility of Fields thriving elsewhere

 

The Verdict

Frankly, there are good arguments on both sides.

I truly believe Fields can and will still succeed in this league, but the Bears certainly have done him no favors so far. Then again, he had enough last season to progress into definite long-term Bears QB, and couldn’t be consistent enough. Within a new system, and with a slightly upgraded supporting cast (another receiver, a real center), he can thrive and be a consistent QB, in the tier of Dak Prescott at least.

But it’s just so risky to pass on the top pick; the Bears already did this once, and it was the correct decision for sure, but CJ Stroud lurks. Now Stroud wasn’t the consensus top QB last season so that’s more than forgivable, plus Fields earned another season with improved weapons, but now, they can have the improved weapons AND the top QB in the draft class (they also have the 9th pick). Plus, they can recoup the pick traded for Montez Sweat by trading Fields.

Caleb Williams is a great QB prospect. He isn’t as good as Andrew Luck, but he’s pretty damn good himself. And it would be hard to ruin his development with the Bears’ personnel, unless Eberflus and Waldron implement Eberflus and Getsy’s dumb 200 system.

What would I do? I’ll recuse myself. I think either decision will result in the Bears long-term success. That’s what happens when you made such a good trade last season, and I applaud Ryan Poles for that.

What do I think the Bears will do? I believe the weekend going into free agency, they will trade Fields for a 2024 2nd and a conditional 2025 3rd, and they will do their due diligence on the QB class that likely results in their selection of Caleb Williams. The third 1st round QB the Bears will have picked in the last 7 years, and hopefully, they avoid the mistakes of the past with this one: pick the obviously best QB (aka not Trubisky) and have the right structure in place for them to succeed (Fields).

Comments are closed.

Check Also

Don’t Be Surprised if Bears Pass on a Pass-Catcher at No. 9

Drafting a receiver at nine is not a luxury pick, as some have previously stated. The Bear…