Bears Rookies Who Will Make Instant Impact in 2021 Season
The crown jewel of the Chicago Bears' 2021 draft class is unquestionably quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears traded up in Round 1 to secure the Ohio State product and will now look to develop him as the team's new franchise quarterback.
Fields, though, may not be on the field in Week 1. Chicago has veteran Andy Dalton for this season and will avoid rushing Fields into action.
"It's not gonna happen overnight," head coach Matt Nagy said. "He's gonna be able to learn from great coaches and from great players that are gonna be [in] the same room from him."
While Fields may not play right away, he'll still have an immediate impact on Chicago's season. Here, we'll examine his situation and two other draft picks who should make their presence felt right away.
QB Justin Fields
The Bears' plan may not involve starting Fields in Week 1, but the former Buckeye standout is going to be a factor throughout training camp. He's likely to push Dalton and Nick Foles while preparing for his eventual turn at the helm of the offense.
"When the time is right, I promise you every single person will know, including Justin, when it's the right time, and that's naturally how it happens," Nagy said.
Fields will also change the way the Bears approach the quarterback position in-season. They know that his ascent is inevitable and will likely turn the reins over if the team falls out of playoff contention early. Fields may also shorten the leash for Dalton and/or Foles if Chicago's quarterback play is underwhelming.
Remember, the Bears made the playoffs last season while flip-flopping between Foles and Mitchell Trubisky.
So, no, Fields may not be expected to start right away. However, he impacted Chicago's quarterback room the moment he was drafted.
OT Teven Jenkins
Chicago used a second-round pick on Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, and the 6'6" and 317-pound blocker should push for a starting job right away. Whether he starts at tackle or guard remains to be seen, however.
"Jenkins has good tackle tape, but his short arms and average range in pass sets could be something to keep an eye on," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Jenkins. "Whether it is at tackle or guard, Jenkins has the talent to become an early starter and a successful pro."
Jenkins' first opportunity to compete will likely be with Elijah Wilkinson at right tackle.
Regardless of his position, Jenkins should immediately improve the Bears offense. He's a physical force in the running game and has the athleticism and instincts to help keep Chicago's quarterback clean—whoever it may be.
RB Khalil Herbert
The Bears should also get early contributions from running back Khalil Herbert. While the Virginia Tech product wasn't drafted until Round 6, late-round ball-carriers often get into the rotation more quickly than players at other positions.
Herbert has the vision and quickness to be a change-of-pace back immediately. He ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and should slot in nicely alongside David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams.
There's even a chance that Herbert could push free-agent addition Damien Williams off the roster. Williams only has $125,000 in dead money on his one-year contract. Though not much of a pass-catching back (only 10 receptions last season), Herbert will get into the lineup because of his home-run-hitting ability. He rushed for 1,182 yards last season with an impressive 7.7 yards-per-carry average.
Herbert, who averaged 26.9 yards per kick return last season, should also be an asset on special teams.