Like the rest of Bears nation, coach Matt Nagy was thrilled with what transpired in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night.
General manager Ryan Pace shrewdly traded up nine spots to take star Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 11 overall pick.
The 6-3, 227-pounder possesses a prototypical combination of size, speed and play-making ability and has performed at his best on college football's biggest stages while compiling a 20-2 record as a starter.
"We can all see that he's a complete quarterback that has a ton of intangibles," Nagy said on a Zoom call with reporters Saturday night. "He's a threat every time the football is in his hands as a passer and a runner, but yet he makes really good decisions."
In each of his two seasons at Ohio State, 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. In 22 starts, 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, Fields 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.
"He's played in big-time moments," Nagy said. "He's one of the toughest quarterbacks. I've been around a lot of tough quarterbacks, but he's definitely up there in regards to his experience at the college level, and I think he hangs his hat on that. And as we all grow with him, I think we're going to sense that he really has a little bit of that 'it' factor to him, too, which is neat."
The Bears are confident that Fields will enter an excellent environment to succeed, having the ability to work with and learn from veteran quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Nick Foles as well as Nagy, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
"I think it's going to be exciting for him to just come in here and learn how to be a professional quarterback," Nagy said. "It's not going to happen overnight. He's going to be able to learn from great coaches and from great players that are going to be in the same room as him.
"And he knows that. He's super mature, he's very focused, but he's competitive as hell. Sometimes that pushes people. I think it certainly pushes him, but he does it in a respectful way and he's had a lot of success doing it."
“We can all see that he’s a complete quarterback that has a ton of intangibles. He’s a threat every time the football is in his hands as a passer and a runner…” Bears coach Matt Nagy on Justin Fields
Committed to Dalton as their starting quarterback, the Bears hope to replicate the situation that took place with the Chiefs in 2017 when Nagy was Kansas City's offensive coordinator. First-round pick Patrick Mahomes spent most of his rookie season watching veteran Alex Smith guide the Chiefs to a division title and earn Pro Bowl honors after leading the NFL with a career-high 104.7 passer rating.
"You look at a guy like Andy Dalton and his experience and the time he's seen, that part is extremely similar to Alex at the same point in their careers," Nagy said. "Andy has seen every defense [known] to man, he's watched a lot of tape. He's seen a lot of different schemes that people throw at him. He's been in playoff games. He's done a lot of things the right way.
"So how great is that for a young rookie to come on in and learn from a guy like him and Nick Foles? There's things that he can take from them and really put into his toolbox and use to make him be the greatest quarterback he can possibly be."
With the draft over, Nagy and his coaching staff will begin to create a comprehensive plan for Fields.
"For us as coaches, the development with Justin is making sure that he's getting reps, where he's getting them, how he's getting them, where's the extra work coming in, the film study," Nagy said. "We're not at that part yet as a coaching staff. [But] now we know who we have and where they're at, we can sit down and really put together a schedule and a plan of how this is going to get done."
Before heading back home from his first weekend as a Chicago Bear, rookie QB Justin Fields took in a private tour of our home stadium.