Justin Fields

The Athletic redrafts Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL draft

Where would experts select Justin Fields in a redraft of the 2021 NFL draft?

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No Chicago Bears fan could possibly forget the uplifting feeling that took over one's bones, as it was announced the Bears traded up to the No. 11 spot in the 2021 NFL draft.

Everyone knew what that meant. It's quarterback time.

Then general manager Ryan Pace pulled off a draft day trade with the New York Giants to capture Justin Fields, soon to be the team's new signal caller and hopeful franchise cornerstone. It was a momentous, franchise-altering day for the Bears, who, along with Chicago, covet the third-year quarterback's tantalizing skillset and mentality to this day, two years later.

If they could do it all over again, where would Fields land in the draft? No one would be surprised with Fields being drafted higher than No. 11 in a redraft of the 2021 NFL draft.

The Athletic slotted him in as the No. 3 pick to the San Francisco 49ers in a total redraft.

"I still think [Trey] Lance can be a very good quarterback in this league, and maybe he’d even still be the 49ers’ pick here," Nick Baumgardner wrote. "It wouldn’t be Wilson, and I don’t think Mac Jones is a fit.

"The concerns about whether or not Fields is going to “get there” are overblown, though. He’s had brilliant flashes on an awful team (one that should be better in 2022, mind you) and has improved on a daily basis."

In a full redraft, Baumgardner didn't change the Jacksonville Jaguars' real-life Trevor Lawrence selection with the No. 1 pick. He did, however, draft Micah Parsons to the New York Jets with the No. 2 pick; that left quarterback Zach Wilson on the board.

And, at No. 3, in a hypothetical redraft that didn't include draft day trades, Baumgardner selected Fields to the 49ers.

Coming out of Ohio State, Fields' prospect narrative was swept up in his and the Buckeye's lowly performances against Big Ten rivals Indiana and Northwestern that season. Despite being the most highly-touted team in the conference, the Buckeye's offense was butchered by stalwart defenses in the conference.

That dropped Fields' stock out of the top ten picks. In the actual 2021 draft, Fields was the fourth quarterback to go off the board, behind Lawrence, Wilson and Lance. The Patriots selected Mac Jones four picks after the Bears took Fields.

This redraft is fairly accurate, especially Fields' placement. He is -- without question -- the second-best quarterback in the draft behind Lawrence. The Clemson product has proven himself over the first two seasons of his career, tallying over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns on a 66.3 percent completion clip last season. He lived up to the generational hype behind his name coming into the league.

Fields, however, has given life to his young career last season with an injection of one of history's most productive rushing seasons for a quarterback. He ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns, slashing NFL and franchise records along the way; he nearly broke Lamar Jackson's single-season rushing record for a quarterback.

Fields has yet to prove himself as a dominant passer. But, so far, his capabilities on the ground and through the air are much further along than those of Wilson, Lance and Jones, for that matter. Hence, The Athletic correctly slotted Fields in as the would-have-been No. 3 pick in a hypothetical redraft.

For what it's worth, Baumgardner had the Bears drafting Landon Dickerson, the offensive lineman from Alabama, with the No. 20 pick in the redraft. Dickerson earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He definitely would've filled in nicely on the Bears' offensive line, which was horrid in 2021.

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