On paper the Chicago Bears did get a couple day three prospects that could find themselves with some playing time as rookies, but with the incredible upside from their first two picks, my guess is our answers to today’s roundtable question will revolve around Justin Fields and Teven Jenkins.
Let’s see what the WCG crew had to say when answering this one:
Which 2021 Bears rookie will make the biggest impact?
Josh Sunderbruch: Teven Jenkins. Yes, this is the fan in me. I know I should say quarterback, but I’m going to rationalize here. I’m not sure how much Fields will get to play, but Jenkins will be out there for sure. If he does his job well, Fields or not-yet-Fields will have an easier time of it. If he does his job poorly, it slows down the whole process.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter: Teven Jenkins. It may be considered cheating to go Justin Fields here, but Jenkins is a guy who’ll play an equally big role in fixing the Bears’ problems on offense. After all, the Bears haven’t spent a pick higher than the 5th round on a true OT since 2011. That’s a bad football roster construction philosophy. The Bears’ O-line needed a serious attitude adjustment coming into the 2021 regular season. Enter Teven Jenkins, a mean MoFo who brings toughness, size, consistency, and is a proven 6-6 330 pound rage machine to plug in at tackle. All the Bears backs will be seeing plenty of open grass when running behind this behemoth. Most importantly, Justin Fields needed a real bouncer to protect him for the long-term, and Jenkins is that bouncer; Hell, he’s a monster. Jenkins is the most likely rookie to start on day one for the Bears this season.
Aaron Leming: I’m going to have to go with Jenkins here. Mainly because I believe he’ll be starting Week 1, whether that’s at right or left tackle. I would say Fields, but realistically, I think it’s going to be a bit before we see him, which is fine if it’s justified. Jenkins has a chance to establish himself as the offense’s best building block on the offensive line.
Sam Householder: Jenkins. I am sure Fields will see the field at some point, but I am not sure that the Bears brass sees it that way today. Jenkins sounds like he’ll be expected to compete for a starting job on either end of the offensive line. Considering how much stability that unit needs, it seems like at season’s end that could end up being the biggest impact.
Robert Schmitz: This is probably Fields or Jenkins (depending entirely on how ready Fields is to play), but I’ll go with Jenkins due to the impact he’ll have on a Bears’ o-line that has minimal “nasty” over the last two seasons. Jenkins plays with a jagged edge and that sort of attitude can be infectious. When Cody Whitehair and James Daniels sees Jenkins bowling defenders over, they may pick up their game to match the young rookie. This, in turn, should strengthen the Bears’ running game and take pressure off of whichever QB is under center, And that’s a much-needed change from the 2019 and 2020 teams that couldn’t run the ball against above-average defenses.
Bill Zimmerman: I think this answer is pretty obvious and I think the answer is Teven Jenkins. Justin Fields may not be starting week one, plus there’s a learning curve for most rookie QBs. Jenkins should be starting week one. Too early to know if he will be at right or left tackle, but he will starting at one of those positions and he should help fortify a below average offensive line.
Jeff Berckes: The Bears had to come out of this draft with a starting-caliber offensive tackle and they landed my favorite reasonable target (they weren’t getting Sewell). Offensive line guru Brandon Thorn had Jenkins as his OT2 and he’s already climbing the leaderboards of fan favorites. Now that the Bears cut Charles Leno Jr. (wow), he’ll be walking into the offensive line room as the starting LT. I think that’s ultimately a mistake but this league moves fast and he’ll need to assimilate quickly.
Robert Zeglinski: There’s no reason to get cute or creative with this answer—it’s Fields by miles. He’s as refined and polished as they come. Day 1 players need to start on Day 1.
I expect the Bears to make Fields beat Andy Dalton in a summer starting competition for proper development, which he will, and comfortably so.
After that, there will be the occasional bump in the road as Fields adjusts to the collective jump in athleticism in the NFL. But overall, considering the Bears’ current makeup and supporting cast, I expect a Rookie of the Year-level campaign from the 22-year-old. No need to beat around the bush. He’s that good.
Ken Mitchell: Justin Fields, although not necessarily all on the field. The fact that a franchise QB is being developed will raise everybody’s game... at least those who are staying for the ride.
Will Robinson II: Most likely Justin Fields. Assuming he plays the bulk of the season (there’s always the chance that they sit him a while behind Andy Dalton, rather than throwing him to the proverbial lions). He’s a big armed, athletic QB with good deep ball accuracy (something this team has been missing for some time), a knack for leading his receivers (something the team has also been missing) and a head for the game. That’s gonna have an impact on a team that started Nick Foles for a good chunk of 2020. Runner up goes to Teven Jenkins. He was always going to make an impact, but with Charles Leno gone, he’s not the new Right Tackle, he’s protecting the Blind Side.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Initially I figure it’d be Jenkins because I expect him to be a day 1 starter, but the more I think about it, the more I look at what Fields did at Ohio State, the more I really think he’ll be starting quicker than even the Bears expect. Fields will have his fingerprints all over what happens this season (both good and bad) and I’m here for all those ups and downs.
What do you guys think, Fields or Jenkins as the answer to this question?