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Bears Draft Wrap-Up

Bears cap draft with five picks on Day 3

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The Bears were universally praised for landing quarterback Justin Fields and offensive tackle Teven Jenkins in the first two rounds of the draft Thursday and Friday.

On Saturday, they concluded the festivities with five more selections, initially continuing to focus on offense before spending their final two picks on defense.

In choosing Missouri guard/tackle Larry Borom (No. 151) in the fifth round and Virginia Tech running back Khalil Herbert (No. 217) and North Carolina receiver Dazz Newsome (No. 221) in the sixth, the Bears spent their first five draft picks on offense for the first time since 1960.

They snapped that streak by selecting Oregon cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. (No. 228) with the final choice in the sixth round and followed by taking BYU nose tackle Khyiris Tonga (No. 250) in the seventh.

Capsules of Day 3 picks

Borom (6-5, 332) appeared in 33 games with 19 starts the past three seasons at Missouri. He started all eight games he played in 2020 at right tackle after opening 11 contests in 2019—eight at right tackle, two at left guard and one at left tackle.

"Just a versatile, big, powerful guy," said general manager Ryan Pace. "Really transformed his body this spring when you look at it. Moves really well on tape for his size. He lost a lot of weight through the spring process, and at his pro day we thought he moved around really well. That gives us confidence that his best football is ahead of him. He can play tackle. He can play guard. There's some versatility with him."

Herbert (5-9, 205) played four seasons at Kansas from 2016-19 before transferring to Virginia Tech last year. In 46 career games, he rushed for 2,918 yards and 22 touchdowns on 475 carries and caught 34 passes for 297 yards and 1 TD. Last year he played in 11 games for the Hokies, rushing for a career-high 1,183 yards and eight TDs on 155 carries and catching 10 passes for 179 yards and one TD.

"Explosive, fast, versatile," Pace said. "Also provides a lot of value on special teams. That was kind of a theme for us in that area of the draft. A good kick returner."

Newsome (5-10, 185) appeared in 43 games over four seasons at North Carolina, catching 188 passes for 2,435 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had a breakout junior year in 2019, establishing career highs in all receiving categories with 72 receptions, 1,018 yards and 10 TDs. Last season he followed with 54 catches for 684 yards and six TDs. Newsome also returned punts the past three years at North Carolina, averaging 11.1 yards with one touchdown on 48 returns.

"Extremely productive slot receiver, also a good punt returner," Pace said. "We spent a lot of time watching tape on [North Carolina receiver] Dyami Brown and we kept noticing this player, too. Again, we're excited about his ability as a punt returner and just a lot of production in that area along with him being a good receiver."

Graham (5-10, 195) opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Prior to that, he appeared in 40 games over three seasons at Oregon from 2017-19, registering 183 tackles, eight interceptions, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 32 pass breakups.

"Versatile corner; he can play outside, he can play inside," Pace said. "He opted out this year but really stood out in the Senior Bowl. We really liked his competitiveness, his energy, kind of the spark that he has. Really like his ball skills."

Tonga (6-2, 326) played in 47 games in four seasons at BYU, registering 130 tackles, 16.0 tackles-for-loss, 8.5 sacks, 12 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

"Just a powerful run stopper," Pace said. "Gives us a lot of size inside. We love his makeup. He can push the pocket. He's got a knack for batting passes down at the line of scrimmage. When we looked at our whole front board, he really led all that group in batted passes over the last three years. Just a natural fit with our defense with Tonga."

Reason to celebrate

Even with the Bears choosing five promising prospects Saturday, the highlight of their draft continued to be what transpired in the first two rounds. In trading up for Fields and Jenkins on back-to-back nights, the Bears were lauded by fans and media alike while creating a palpable buzz at Halas Hall.

Coach Matt Nagy was in the draft room when the Bears moved up nine spots to No. 11 to take Fields, a dual threat quarterback who possesses outstanding size, speed and play-making ability.

"When you're able to get a player like Justin Fields in the first round, obviously we were super pumped," Nagy said. "When you have a good feeling like that, you can just feel the energy in the room, you can feel the energy from each person, and that's really ultimately what it's all about."

The Bears replicated that feeling in Round 2 when they traded up from No. 52 to No. 39 to pick Jenkins, a lineman with a nasty disposition who many draft analysts had predicted would be their selection in the first round at No. 20.

"I love his playing demeanor," Nagy said. "I really love the way he run blocks. I thought that really jumped out to us as we were evaluating him. He's [also] stout in pass protection."

For Nagy, nothing compares to the adrenaline, excitement and emotion he felt this week in the Bears draft room.

"I wish everybody could kind of experience it one time in their life because it's different," Nagy said. "It's a good different. And just not knowing where things are going to go and all these different scenarios that we have and that we plan out, knowing if it's going to come to fruition or not, and it's up until almost the [last] minute sometimes as to whether or not something happens.

"Credit to Ryan and to [director of football administration] Joey Laine, and just watching them work those phones and listening to different opportunities that we could have and different scenarios that play in front of us. That's where I think, for us, we work really well together because we try to communicate."

Focus turns to development

Now that the seven players the Bears picked the past three days have been drafted, it's time for Nagy and his coaching staff to begin to develop them.

"We're super excited about the players that we got in this entire draft, and now the excitement turns to a lot of focus and shift to us as coaches and these guys as players to make it happen, make it work," Nagy said. "And that's where I think the commitment that we all have to one another is, 'Hey, we're in a great spot right now. Let's us as coaches work to their strengths and do everything we can to make this a winning football team.'"

Fields, Jenkins, Borom, Herbert, Newsome, Graham & Tonga. See photos of all the new Bears rookies selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.

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