While Matt Nagy maintains his focus on the 2021 season, GM Ryan Pace is already hard at work preparing for 2022. The grind never stops in the effort to make the Chicago Bears a championship team. He feels like they’re close. Perhaps just a handful of moves away from true contention. It falls on him to find those pieces. One key in all of this is Justin Fields. If he is the quarterback the Bears have long searched for, then the goal for Pace is clear. Build around him. That is how we come to the subject of Jarrett Patterson.

Don’t know the name? If you have a heavy interest in college football, you probably should. This 2021 season marks the third where he is the starting center for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Many consider him to be among the best at his position looking ahead to the 2022 draft. Based on recent developments, it’s hard not to think the Bears are keeping a close eye on him as for the second time already their scouts were spotted attending an Irish game.

Patterson is considered one of the two or three top prospects.

If there is one thing about Pace, it is he has a tendency to zero in on players he likes really early in a draft process. Especially when they’re at positions of need. Right now the Bears have lingering question marks at center. Sam Mustipher managed to win the job with his solid play last season but there are fears about his overall ceiling. So far through two games he’s allowed three pressures including a sack and is considered an outright liability as a run blocker. This is due to his average size and lacking strength.

With his status beyond 2021 uncertain, identifying somebody like Patterson makes sense. He should be a Day 2 option in the draft. A good thing since the Bears have no 1st round pick. Scouting reports pinpoint a player known for his strong anchor, good technique, athleticism, and blue-collar mentality.

Jarrett Patterson would fill a big need for the Bears

Their offensive line remains littered with question marks. Not just Mustipher. Right now, only Cody Whitehair is under a contract that goes beyond 2021. James Daniels, Germain Ifedi, and Jason Peters are all operating on one-year deals. It is hoped Daniels will play well enough to earn a new contract. The Bears also have high expectations for their two draft picks from this year, tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom.

If they were to add Jarrett Patterson to the mix? That would give Fields a young and talented group of blockers with high potential. Given the nature of the Bears’ offense, the interior blocking is most important. Both guard spots and center must be stout in order for Fields to have a strong pocket to operate from. Pace and the coaching staff may not trust Mustipher enough yet to consider him a long-term option.

He has 15 games left to change their minds.

It seems the team is doing their homework on alternatives in case he can’t deliver what they’re hoping for. Patterson absolutely should be on their radar. While not a premier freak of a talent, the guy is going to be a solid player in the NFL. Somebody who can anchor the middle for a long time.

Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.