Many draft experts predicted that Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields would be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft. But being selected by the Bears at No. 11 didn't dampen his enthusiasm even one bit.
"I'm the kind of guy that thinks that everything happens for a reason," Fields said during a Zoom call with the Chicago media. "So I think this is God's plan for me to be a Bear. I'm more than excited and I'm more than ready to get up there for sure."
With Fields still on the board at No. 11, the Bears traded up nine spots from No. 20, sending the New York Giants first- and fifth-round picks this year and first- and fourth-round selections next year.
In Fields, the Bears landed a dynamic dual threat quarterback with a high ceiling who has excelled on college football's biggest stages against perennial powerhouse programs. The 6-3, 228-pounder compiled a 20-2 record as a starter at Ohio State the past two seasons, with both losses coming in the College Football Playoff—in a 2019 semifinal and the 2020 championship game.
In each of his two seasons in Columbus, Fields led the Buckeyes to Big Ten championships and undefeated regular seasons while being named Big Ten offensive player of the year and first-team all-conference.
"The kind of player the Bears are getting is a versatile player," Fields said, "a player that can make plays both with my arm and also with my legs and, of course, a smart player; a player that's going to make smart decisions and a player that wants to win, that's willing to do whatever to win. That, of course, is my No. 1 job, however that may be, whatever my position may be on the team."
In his two years at Ohio State, Fields completed 68.4 percent of his passes for 5,373 yards with 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions while also rushing for 867 yards and 15 TDs on 218 carries.
In 2019, he passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. In 2020, he threw for 385 yards and six TDs in a 49-28 win over Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal, playing through a painful injury he suffered via a crushing hit to his midsection.
Asked to identify his No. 1 strength, Fields said: "I would say just showing up in big moments. I feel like when big moments present themselves, I feel like there's just another thing that kicks inside of me. But I just think capitalizing in big moments and, of course, playing well on big stages. I think that's definitely one of my strengths for sure."
Playing in such a prominent program at Ohio State should help Fields make a smooth transition to football-crazed Chicago.
"I definitely think it will translate well, especially with the fan base," Fields said. " I know that Bears fans are very passionate about football and, of course, so is Ohio State … so I think it will definitely translate well for sure."
“I think this is God’s plan for me to be a Bear. I’m more than excited and I’m more than ready to get up there for sure.” Bears first-round pick Justin Fields
Fields told reporters that he began to create a bond with Matt Nagy in advance of the draft while speaking to the Bears coach over Zoom and briefly at the quarterback's pro day. Fields enjoyed "just talking and getting to know him, not only as a coach but as a person."
"I'm pretty big on having great relationships with my coaches," Fields said. "I think that's the most effective way to be great and kind of be cooperative as a team."
Fields was certainly thrilled to hear from Nagy after the Bears had traded up with the Giants and were on the clock at No. 11.
"Coach Nagy called me up and asked me if I was ready to be a Chicago Bear, and I told him, 'Of course,'" Fields said. "So of course the phone call went well. Coach Nagy is a great coach. He's a great person."
Fields is eager to begin working with Nagy and learning the Bears offense.
"I think I fit perfectly," Fields said. "If he didn't think I fit well, he wouldn't have traded up. Just talking to him, getting to know how he communicates with his quarterbacks and his learning style, I think that's going to make me a better quarterback, a better player because he's going to teach me a lot. I'm just excited to get up there and learn."
With the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bears select Ohio State QB Justin Fields.