It was easily lost in the quarterback conundrum hovering around the team, but the four best grades handed out by Pro Football Focus to Chicago Bears players during the team’s 24-23 win against the Arizona Cardinals went to defensive standouts.
Among them was second-year defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, who has quietly put together a solid summer.
The 81.3 grade given to Robertson-Harris was the third best for a Bears player in the win – as only safety DeAndre Houston-Carson (87.6) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (81.9) received better marks overall. Robertson-Harris played 16 pass rush snaps, according to PFF, and it’s safe to say he made the most of those opportunities as he picked up two sacks, two tackles-for-loss, and two quarterback hits.
“Felt good with the older guys helping me out throughout the week of practice,” Robertson-Harris said while meeting with the assembled media at Halas Hall. “I’ve just got to get better moving forward.”
You can watch Robertson-Harris address the media by clicking here, or check it out in full at the bottom of this post.
Robertson-Harris has been a man in transition since arriving as an undrafted free agent from UTEP in 2016. He played in the team’s first three preseason games last year, but was placed on the illness/non-injury list and missed the entire season. Effectively using 2016 as a redshirt season, Robertson-Harris has since bulked up to 290 pounds to aid in his switching from outside linebacker to defensive end.
The Bears could have a diamond in the rough with Robertson-Harris, who was once pegged as a projected fifth-round pick but fell out of the draft completely. Here was NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein take on the 6-foot-7 prospect who weighed 255 pounds out of college:
“Robertson-Harris will step onto the field at his first NFL camp looking like a dude. He has the desired length, power and athleticism to play on the edge and it will be interesting to see if teams view him as a defensive end or a standup player. If Robertson-Harris can get coached up to improve his hands and pass-rush talent, he has the athleticism and talent to become an NFL starter rather than just an athlete with occasional flashes on tape.”
It appears the Bears are doing exactly what Zierlein figured a team would do in making a decision on his future as a defensive end, coaching him up to improve on his skill set, and throwing him into the competition at a position of need.
With starting defensive ends Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein out of action, it was important for Robertson-Harris to take advantage of the additional practice and game reps – and he did just that.
The Bears front office seems to have learned from last year’s short-comings by adding depth and competition along the defensive line, of which Robertson-Harris is apart of this summer. And with that depth, perhaps the Bears will finally find some stability and continuity on the line.