Should the Bears focus on Mac Jones as their 2021 NFL Draft target?

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The Chicago Bears are inching closer to beginning the 2021 unrestricted free agency period without a bonafide starting quarterback on the roster. After (allegedly) swinging and missing on an attempt to acquire Carson Wentz in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, the veteran options who remain for GM Ryan Pace to hitch his career to are, at best, unexciting.

Jameis Winston? A trade for Marcus Mariota? Swing for the fences with Sam Darnold?

While it’s not something Bears fans want to admit, Chicago might be better off rolling with Nick Foles for another season than acquiring any of those players, all of whom have warts in their game.

The most logical route for Pace to go in his ongoing quest for a quarterback is the 2021 NFL Draft, but unless the Bears mortgage the future and trade into the top six or seven picks, the odds they’ll land any of the big four quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance — aren’t great.

But there’s one other guy — Alabama’s Mac Jones — who continues to get overlooked as a legitimate first-round prospect. And he might be the best fit for what the Bears want to accomplish (at least in the short-term) because of his pro-readiness. He’s an accurate passer with an outstanding football IQ and if he ends up in Chicago, he’ll start from Day 1.

Jones’ draft grade will vary. Some scouts will love him, others will think he was a product of Alabama’s loaded offense. But if you put faith in what NFL coaches have to say — especially an offensive guru who’s coached the likes of Tom Brady — then Jones should be high on your wish list.

Former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis had some glowing remarks for Jones in a recent interview with ESPN’s Mike Reiss. He compared Jones to Drew Brees.

“What are the two most important components of a star quarterback? They have the ‘it’ factor. And they’re accurate. That’s who [Jones] was,” Weis said.“If you’re looking for a guy that’s going to be running for 30 yards on a regular basis, that’s not your guy. But he can move in the pocket, and from the pocket, and run the ball when he absolutely needs to.

“When you talk about Trevor Lawrence, what makes him so special is that he can do everything Mac Jones can and he’s athletic. [Justin] Fields, really good player. Zach Wilson, really good player. The kid from North Dakota State [Trey Lance], really good player.

“But this guy, [Jones], he’s the one making all the plays. All he does is win and throw completions.”

At this point, the Bears can’t afford to pass on a player like Jones, or any of the top quarterbacks should one happen to fall to them. Even if Pace comes away from free agency with Winston or manages to pull off a trade for Mariota, he should try to add more than one quarterback (a veteran and a rookie) this year.

The Bears could do a lot worse than Jones as a first-round pick, assuming he even lasts until No. 20 overall.