Camp is here, which means it’s time for me to grade the roster. Like I did last year, I’ll grade on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the worst in the NFL, 10 being the best, and 5 being an average NFL unit. Let’s get right down to it.
Key Players: Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles
Roster Depth: Tyler Bray
Mitchell Trubisky was one of the 5 worst quarterbacks with significant playing time in the NFL last year. Nick Foles is on his 3rd team in 3 years and hasn’t started more than 5 games in a season since 2015. The Bears don’t have a good quarterback on the roster, which is a real problem in a quarterback-driven league.
If I were grading just on the starter, this would be a 2. But the Bears are probably going to end up with one of the worst starters and best backups in the NFL, so the better depth bumps it up slightly.
Running back: 3
Key Players: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen
Roster Depth: Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Napoleon Maxwell
David Montgomery struggled as a rookie, averaging only 3.7 yards/carry and failing to establish himself in the passing game, which was supposed to be the reason why the Bears traded up for him after getting rid of Jordan Howard. Tarik Cohen followed up a stellar 2018 with the worst season of his career. I think both of these players have the potential to be really good in 2020, but neither was last year, so it’s hard to be super confident in them right now.
Still, I might be willing to give them a 4 as the “starters,” but the atrocious roster depth knocks this down a peg. All 3 backups are undrafted players who have yet to show they can do anything in the NFL. If David Montgomery gets hurt, the Bears don’t have a runner on the roster who you can reasonably trust.
Wide Receivers: 5
Key Players: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Ted Ginn, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley Ridley, Javon Wims
Roster Depth: Darnell Mooney, Trevor Davis, Reggie Davis, Thomas Ives, Ahmad Wagner
Allen Robinson was 13th in receiving yards among WRs last year, while Anthony Miller was 48th. That puts them both right around average for a WR1 and WR2, respectively, and I think Miller is poised to significantly outperform that in 2020. Ted Ginn was 68th, which makes him a better than expected WR3.
The starting trio probably earns a 6, but it gets dicey in a hurry behind them. Cordarrelle Patterson is a bit weapon, not a full-time WR, and the only other player with meaningful experience is Javon Wims, who was awful in 2019. It would really help the Bears if 2019 4th round pick Riley Ridley takes a step forward this year.
Two additional concerns at WR are special teams and run blocking. Nobody in their top 7 aside from Cordarrelle Patterson can be relied upon as a core ST performer, which is a pivotal role for backup WRs. The Bears also had serious issues with run blocking from their WRs last year, and are bringing back the same coach with basically the same players (just swap out Taylor Gabriel and Ted Ginn).
Tight Ends: 4
Key Players: Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Demetrius Harris
Roster Depth: Jesper Horsted, JP Holtz, Eric Saubert, Darion Clark
The Bears had a truly atrocious group of tight ends last year, and completely overhauled the position this offseason. However, it’s hard to think any of their additions will be particularly good in 2020. Jimmy Graham is on the downside of his career, though he’s not completely terrible yet, while 2nd round pick Cole Kmet should not be expected to do much as a rookie. Demetrius Harris is competent veteran depth, while the rest of the guys are fighting for 1-2 spots on the end of the roster this year.
This group should definitely be better than 2019, though that’s not exactly saying much, and I don’t know that I can call them good.
Offensive Tackles: 5
Key Players: Charles Leno, Bobby Massie, Jason Spriggs
Roster Depth: Lachavious Simmons, Badara Traore
Leno and Massie are both solidly established NFL starters, but they both had down years last year. Many fans seem to have taken most issue with Leno, but I thought Massie was appreciably worse, especially in the run game. Both players need to bounce back in 2020, but based on their larger body of work, it’s hard to call them worse than average. Jason Spriggs is also a suitable swing tackle, though it would be very nice if they had managed to add a promising tackle in the draft to fill that role and maybe eventually replace Massie. Instead, they swung on Lachavious Simmons in the 7th round, but he shouldn’t be expected to do anything as a rookie while making the jump from Tennessee State.
Interior Offensive Line: 3
Key Players: Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Coward
Roster Depth: Alex Bars, Arlington Hambright, Sam Mustipher, Corey Levin, Dieter Eiselen, Dino Boyd
Cody Whitehair is a really solid player who seems locked in on center now after moving to left guard temporarily last year, but the two spots around him are pretty big question marks. James Daniels is the starting left guard, but he struggled mightily in his sophomore season in 2019, though he was less bad when moved back to guard from center. Germain Ifedi was brought in from Seattle to be the starting right guard, a position we haven’t seen him play since his rookie year in 2016. Ifedi and Daniels are both very physically gifted and could end up surprising, but it’s hard to count on either as a plus player right now. The hope is that they can avoid being negatives.
Depth here is a serious concern as well. The only player with real playing experience is Rashaad Coward, but he was awful when pressed into action last year. Lots of fans like 2019 UDFA Alex Bars, but he wasn’t good enough to supplant Coward last year, and college coach Harry Heistand is no longer with the Bears, so he is no lock to make the roster. Seventh round pick Arlington Hambright is very athletic but raw, so nothing should be expected of him as a rookie.