Bears ready to move forward with Justin Fields

Getty Images

Considering the Chicago Bears just wrapped up one of the worst years in franchise history, it is no surprise the team has plenty of needs it could fill with the number one pick in the draft.

Selecting a quarterback first overall, however, appears highly unlikely.

Bears general manager Ryan Poles supported Justin Fields as being Chicago's starting quarterback heading into the 2023 season and said a QB prospect would have to utterly amaze him for the Bears to draft him with the top pick.

"We're going to do the same as we've always done," Poles said on Tuesday. "We're going to evaluate the draft class, and I would say this: I would have to be absolutely blown away to make that type of decision."

Fields was one of the few bright spots on a Bears team that ended the 2022 season on a franchise-worst 10-game losing streak and secured the top pick by finishing 3-14.

The abysmal record was not a huge surprise, though, considering the team went through a midseason teardown by trading away defensive standouts Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn and lacked significant talent at the offensive skill positions while the o-line was deemed substandard.

Although Fields emerged as one of the most exciting players in the NFL, capable of springing off a highlight run on any given play, the second-year quarterback failed to make many game-changing plays with his arm.

There are also questions of how Poles evaluates his skillset given Fields was drafted by the previous regime.

With 1,143 rushing yards, Fields – the number 11 pick in the 2021 draft – averaged a league-leading 7.14 yards per rush and had an NFL-best four rushing touchdowns of 50-plus yards. He flirted with breaking the NFL single-season quarterback rushing record set by Baltimore's Lamar Jackson in his 2019 MVP season had he not missed Sunday's finale with a strained hip.

"I thought Justin did a good job," Poles said. "I thought we changed a lot, we adapted, we tried to put him in a position to be successful, he showed the ability to be a playmaker. Be impactful. He can change games quickly. Does he have room to grow? He does. He has to get better as a passer, and I'm excited to see him take those steps as we move forward."

Despite being one of the most dangerous runners in the league, Fields and the Bears had trouble moving the ball through the air.

Among the 32 quarterbacks with a minimum of 250 attempts, Fields ranked 25th in passer rating (85.2), 31st in completion percentage (60.4) and 32nd in yards per game (149.5).

An argument could be made he did not have enough support around him, and that is where owning the top pick works in the Bears’ favour.

Poles could decide to use the top pick to fill a need or trade down with a team looking to take a quarterback for more draft picks.

Alabama's Bryce Young, Kentucky's Will Levis and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are the three quarterbacks all projected to be drafted in the top 10, with some combination of them possibly going 1-2.

The Bears also have about $118million in salary cap room to restock the roster.

'"I think we have really good flexibility to help this team, regardless if it's making the pick there or moving back a little bit or moving back a lot," Poles said. "We'll be open to everything."