We’re only a few days into the new league year, but it’s never too early to dissect the Chicago Bears roster assembled by GM Ryan Pace that will be molded and led by head coach John Fox and his staff.
Quarterback: Mike Glennon, Connor Shaw
There is no competition here, Glennon is the clear-cut QB1 right now … and will be for at least the 2017 season. However, it will be interesting to see how reps will be handled further down the depth chart with Shaw and a potential third quarterback who could be drafted in April.
Running back: Jordan Howard, Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey, Bralon Addison, David Cobb
The Bears don’t have a need at this position because they have a Pro Bowl lead back aching for more carries, a capable backup, and a special teams ace among the group.
Fullback: Paul Lasike
Played a total of 76 snaps in 2016, so I can’t blame you if you forgot about him as a part of this roster.
Wide receiver: Cameron Meredith, Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy, Daniel Braverman, Rueben Randle, Eddie Royal, Dres Anderson
This is the offense’s most interesting position group because there is depth, potential competition among a slew of players, and still a need for a true No. 1 receiver. Royal was expected to be released as soon as he was able to pass a physical, but that won’t make this situation any clearer.
Tight end: Zach Miller, Dion Sims, Ben Braunecker, Daniel Brown, MyCole Pruitt, Justin Perillo
Considering Miller’s injury history, position depth needed to be addressed. Signing Sims, 26, helps because he has potential to grow into a capable two-way tight end. Even if that scenario pans out, there isn’t much upside at this position. The draft is deep at tight end, so it’s conceivable the Bears could add another body to the group in April. There is also that Jared Cook rumor.
Offensive tackle: Charles Leno Jr., Bobbie Massie
There could be competition between Massie and free agent signing Tom Compton, but both tackles leave much to be desired. Don’t expect much help coming from a draft that is short on talented offensive tackles.
Offensive guard: Josh Sitton, Kyle Long
If healthy, the Sitton-Long duo is among the best in the NFL. But Sitton missed four games and Long missed eight due to various injuries.
Center: Cody Whitehair
If Sitton and Long are healthy, the trio of Sitton-Whitehair-Long is among the best interiors in the NFL. Whitehair played all 16 games as a rookie, which is remarkable considering he never played a down of center while at college.
Offensive linemen: Hroniss Grasu, Tom Compton, Eric Kush, William Poehls, Cyril Richardson
Interesting to note that Grasu isn’t listed at center on the roster at the Bears’ official website. Coming off a season shortened by injury, perhaps he can prove to be versatile contributor at multiple spots. Kush proved to be a valuable contributor in 2016 by appearing in eight games and making four starts, while Compton will likely slide into a flex role, too, if he can’t beat out Massie to start at right tackle.
Nose tackle: Eddie Goldman, Will Sutton
Defensive end: Akiem Hicks, Mitch Unrein, Jonathan Bullard
Defensive linemen: Kapron Lewis-Moore
Hicks had a breakout year in 2016, while Goldman seemed primed for a second solid season before an injury cut short his season. Despite having two quality defenders up front, the Bears could still use help along the defensive line. Mitch Unrein graded at the lowest tier of Pro Football Focus’ rankings, and played the second most snaps among Bears interior defenders in 2016.
Outside linebacker: Leonard Floyd, Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young
Inside linebacker: Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Nick Kwiatkoski, John Timu, Jonathan Anderson, Christian Jones
Linebacker: Roy Robertson-Harris
The Bears have talent and upside across the linebacker position, but age and injuries could hinder production or development. Houston (14), McPhee (7), Trevathan (7) and Floyd (4) all missed time due to injury, while Freeman missed four games due to a PED suspension. Linebacker isn’t necessarily a need that should be addressed with an early-round pick or a high-priced free agent, but the team could stand to supplement its depth at the position.
Cornerback: Tracy Porter, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Kyle Fuller, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Bryce Callahan, Deiondre’ Hall, Johnthan Banks, De’Vante Bausby, Jacoby Glenn.
Amukamara (76.6), LeBlanc (73.4), and Callahan (72.6) each checked in as “average” on Pro Football Focus’ grading scale, but that’s where the good news stops. Porter had a career-worst season, while the rest of the group struggled whenever they received playing time. A draft that is deep at cornerback should give the Bears several opportunities to draft a player who can start from Week 1. Porter has no guaranteed money coming his way starting in 2017, so he is a candidate to be cut at some point this offseason.
Safety: Adrian Amos, Quintin Demps, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Harold Jones-Quartey,
Defensive back: Rashaad Reynolds
Signing Demps pushes everyone else down a peg on the depth chart, which is another way of saying the group became deeper. A starting tandem of Demps and Amos is respectable, but won’t strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks or their pass catchers. It’s questionable whether or not the Bears will add another safety to the group via the draft, but they should based on a number of factors, including Demps’ age (32), the production of the others who played the position last year, and the fact that safety is another position full of depth in this draft.