The Chicago Bears got very lucky in the 2021 NFL Draft when QB Justin Fields slid to the No. 11 pick. Sure, former general manager Ryan Pace took control of the franchise’s destiny by trading up with the New York Giants. But the fact Fields was still on the board was a Bears miracle.
With the 2023 NFL Draft right around the corner, NFL Network’s Adam Rank published a 2021 draft do-over. In this alternate reality, the Chicago Bears stay at their original pick, No. 20 overall, and select Jaelan Phillips, the now-Miami Dolphins rising edge rusher. It’s a change of fortune that would’ve continued the Bears’ never-ending quest to find a quarterback.
“I’m thinking that if you dropped Phillips on a Chicago line that still included Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack (both of whom were traded away last year) in 2021, that defense could have been pretty good,” Rank wrote.
As for Justin Fields? In Rank’s do-over, he’s a New York Jet.
“The Jets clearly were looking for a quarterback,” Rank wrote. “They should have drafted Fields, who lasted until No. 11, where the Bears grabbed him after trading up. Wilson’s poor performance in 2022 helped put the team on the path toward Aaron Rodgers. Gang Green would have made the playoffs last season if Fields was their quarterback. I won’t debate this.”
The Jets not only would’ve made the playoffs in 2022, they would also be considered an AFC favorite in 2023. Imagine an offense with WR Garrett Wilson, RB Breece Hall, and Fields at quarterback. Fireworks.