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Bears find QB of the future in new Todd McShay mock draft

Could the Bears snag a quarterback in the first round of the 2021 draft?

Butler v North Dakota State Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

The Bears are on track to have a first-round pick next year for the first time since 2018, and heavy focus has already been placed on the quarterback position with that selection.

With Mitchell Trubisky having his fifth-year option declined and Tyler Bray currently on a one-year deal, Nick Foles will be the only quarterback the Bears have under contract heading into the 2021 offseason. With no real replacement plan in place, it remains likely they look for a quarterback in next year’s draft. If ESPN draft guru Todd McShay’s latest mock draft is any indication, they could find their next face of the franchise in the first round.

McShay released an early 2021 mock draft on Wednesday (ESPN+ status required), and he selected North Dakota State redshirt sophomore quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 14 pick.

Here’s what McShay had to say about the selection:

Lance is big, athletic and tough, and he absolutely dominated the FCS last season. He threw zero interceptions on nearly 300 pass attempts in 2019 and offered dual-threat production, rushing for 50-plus yards in nine of his 16 games. The Bears need a guy they can build around, and they can’t afford to whiff this time around. Chicago’s thoughts on Mitchell Trubisky were made clear when it didn’t give him his fifth-year option and signed a soon-to-be 32-year-old Foles who is coming off an injury-plagued, poor 2019 season. Lance is a third-year sophomore with some questions still to be answered — including whether he’d want to declare for the draft at all — but the Bears would love to get this talented signal-caller in the middle of the first round based on his ceiling.

Lance broke out last season, taking over the Bison’s starting quarterback job from 2019 fifth-round pick Easton Stick after redshirting his first year on campus. He threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns and no interceptions with a 66.9 completion percentage. He also finished with 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground, solidifying his value as one of the best scrambling quarterbacks in the nation. With Lance under center, North Dakota State finished with an undefeated 16-0 record and an FCS championship victory.

While not on the same level of national spotlight as fellow prospects Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, Lance has been hyped up tremendously since the 2020 draft came to a conclusion. It’s not necessarily surprising, either, as he has all of the tools to be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. He has natural arm strength and can effortlessly hit the deep ball and deliver throws with high velocity off platform. He has also shown plenty of promise in his anticipatory skills, hitting receivers in stride more often than not. Lance is a well-built player at 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, and his game-breaking athleticism would make him a very difficult dual-threat quarterback for opposing defenses to plan for.

Lance isn’t a perfect prospect, as he’s still a work in progress. His zero interceptions—while impressive—are a bit misleading, as he made his fair shares of forced reads and was the beneficiary of some dropped interceptions. His poise in a collapsing pocket can improve, too: though he can evade defenders with pure athleticism, he can work on getting his feet set and remaining calm and collected under duress. Plus, he currently has just one season of starting play against FCS competition, and with the Missouri Valley Football Conference currently postponing games until the spring, he may enter the draft with a limited sample size.

With Foles in tow, the Bears can afford to take Lance and have him sit for some time while he adjusts to the NFL style of play. He may not have as high of a floor as Lawrence or Fields, but his ceiling is arguably just as high, and that could be too enticing for Chicago to pass up next April.