There’s almost a certain point where you can see where the talent on the Bears roster breaks.
The bottom of this list is utterly unimpressive; late-round rookies and NFL journeymen. The top ten: a handful of established NFL players, some who have been stars and some who can be stars going forward.
The word potential could be used for so many of these players and what happens in 2020 could depend on how many of them touch their ceilings.
39. Barkevious Mingo, Edge
While he’s certainly a draft bust, Mingo deserves credit for sticking around. While the 2019 season was a wash as he played just 73 snaps for Houston, he was a pretty regular contributor to Seattle’s solid defense in 2018 and started six games for Chuck Pagano’s Colts in 2017. Doesn’t provide much for pass rush, but is a good special teams player and certainly better than the edges the Bears had beyond their starters last year.
38. Darnell Mooney, WR
Given the odd off-season and the team’s signing of an established veteran to do, essentially, the same job, it might be difficult for Mooney to find the field in 2020. But the Bears need speed and speed is among the traits the rookie receiver offers. A four-year player at Tulane, Mooney is also considered a polished route-runner. It’ll just be a matter of getting the details down.
37. Sherrick McManis, ST
McManis is always tough to rank simply because none of the coaches ever seem to trust him on defense, even though he has always seemed to play well. As it is, he’s among the best special teams player in the league.
36. Kevin Toliver II, CB
Expect Toliver to start the season opposite Kyle Fuller, which may not be a good thing. Toliver has certainly had his struggles in coverage/tackling when playing but those spurts have been too few and far between to get much of a feel for if he can actually play.
35. J.P. Holtz, FB
The Bears are going to try to be a more powerful running team in 2020 and Holtz could factor into that. There’s little doubt that the player none of us had ever previously heard of gave the Bears a little bit of a spark last year.
34. Trevis Gipson, Edge
Gipson might have a learning curve, going from a defensive lineman in college to an edge player in the NFL, but he certainly has the skill set. A long and physical player, Gipson will be raw, but the Bears don’t need him to be great just yet.
33. Javon Wims, WR
The hype train hit a wall last year when Wims finally played regular season games. Wims caught just 46.2 percent of his targets and averaged only 10.3 yards per catch. He always looks the part in camp and preseason, but he’ll have to show more if he’s going to make the squad.
32. Riley Ridley, WR
There never was a Ridley hype train, but that could change now. Ridley is similar to Wims, his teammate in college, in that he doesn’t have great speed, but does make tough catches. He caught almost every pass thrown his way and seemed to have a feel for when to sit down in zone coverage. But he still couldn’t crack the lineup even as Wims struggled. Fast forward to this year and wide receiver coach Mike Furrey noted Ridley as a player who could have a big year.
31. Demetrius Harris, TE
It probably isn’t a stretch to say Harris would’ve been the best tight end on the Bears roster in 2019. He comes into the 2020 season with familiarity of the offense after having played more than 30 percent of the snaps for four straight seasons in Kansas City. An athletic former basketball player, Harris is known mostly for his ability to block. There’s a decent chance he plays quite a bit as Cole Kmet learns the ropes.
30. Duke Shelley, CB
Shelley was among the stars of training camp 2019, but the Bears had nowhere to put him with Buster Skrine having just signed a big deal. Shelley will again be competing in the slot where he might be able to fight Skrine off this year.
29. Mitchell Trubisky, QB
What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? If Trubisky can’t read defenses and process information in 2020, he’ll be out of the league soon. And, if he can, he’ll be the starting quarterback with a good chance at becoming the long-term answer.
28. Ted Ginn Jr., WR
Ginn can still run and that’s what the Bears need. It’ll be interesting to see if they can be more creative with the veteran wide receiver, similar to how they used Taylor Gabriel in 2018.
27. Bilal Nichols, DL
Which version of Nichols are the Bears getting? The 2018 version was disruptive and could hold his own. The 2019 version might as well have just been a hole on the field. If he’s somewhere in between, he’ll be an adequate defensive lineman. Still has a very high ceiling.
26. Germaine Ifedi, OG
Back to playing his more natural position, Ifedi is among the most interesting Bears of 2020. It isn’t unheard of for failed tackles to find permanent homes at guard and Ifedi has the kind of physical demeanor that could really give the offensive line some juice.
25. Cole Kmet, TE
The rookie has everything one could want except for experience. So far, he has earned praise for his ability to process information, but we never really know until the lights are on. He’s huge and athletic and seems to have natural hands and coordination.
24. Deon Bush, Safety
The limited looks we got of Bush in 2019 were not favorable, but don’t forget how well he played at the end of 2018 when Eddie Jackson was injured. It was Adrian Amos, not Bush, who Philadelphia picked on to beat the Bears in the playoffs two years ago.
23. Buster Skrine, CB
Probably gets more credit for his 2019 season than he deserves. Skrine was still a liability in man coverage and often picked on in clutch situations. But he’s aggressive and was solid as a blitzer last year.
22. David Montgomery, RB
We don’t really know what to make of Montgomery. He struggled to find holes, but so would any other back. He showed excellent tackle-breaking ability and natural hands, but his lack of burst and speed was also noticeable. The Bears seemed to think he’s the answer as they didn’t bring any competition in. He might be the most important player to their 2020 offense.
21. Roy Robertson-Harris, DL
RRH is one-dimensional, but that dimension is so important. It can be argued that he was the second-best pass rusher on the team last year and was third best in 2018. Don’t ask him to play the run, like ever, but he can chase quarterbacks.
20. Jaylon Johnson, CB
The second of their second-round picks comes in highest among the draft picks on this list. An injured shoulder caused a first-round talent to drop. It’s a little mind boggling that the Bears didn’t use the 43rd pick on a guy who is very likely going to start at cornerback before the midway point of the season. Johnson has everything you look for in a cornerback prospect.
19. Nick Foles, QB
There’s something to be said about a player who can simply do his job. It isn’t coincidence that Foles has failed in dysfunctional situations, but thrived when he has had support. That, more than anything, tells you what Foles is. He’ll never have you in awe, but he’ll always get what the supporting cast around him allows. There’s a tremendous amount of value in that.
18. James Daniels, OG
Daniels played better when he moved from center to guard, but still has to be more physical. The sky is the limit for the extremely talented Iowa player and if Juan Castillo can get him to reach his potential, he’s going to be the anchor along the offensive line.
17. Bobby Massie, RT
Part of this ranking is betting on Massie rebounding in 2020. He never seemed healthy in 2019, but was previously a very solid starting right tackle.
16. Tashaun Gipson, Safety
Gipson was a steal late in free agency. He’s very similar to Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, only older and probably a little better. He was one of the few bright spots on a horrendous Houston defense last year.
15. Jimmy Graham, TE
Don’t let the raw numbers convince you the Jimmy Graham story is already written. The Packers have never had tight ends produce at a high level and when push came to shove, Graham was still one of the few passing options Aaron Rodgers trusted. He can still run, catches just about everything thrown his way and is just a gigantic human being.
14. Eddie Goldman, DL
Big Eddie won’t be playing in 2020, but this ranking should show how his contributions will be missed. We found out when Akiem Hicks was injured that Goldman wasn’t a one-man run defense, but his ability to hold up and still push the pocket was so valuable.
13. Cordarrelle Patterson, ST/WR/RB
Patterson was arguably the Bears most explosive offensive player in 2019, inarguably the best special teams gunner in the league and one of the greatest return men the league has ever seen. There has been early talk that the Bears are going to do more to get the ball in Patterson’s hands. They failed to do that in 2019, but he still had a big impact.
12. Charles Leno Jr., LT
Leno got off to a rough start in 2019 almost entirely because of a new emphasis on holding calls that went away as the season progressed. Leno is a very solid left tackle who has held his own against some very tough matchups in the NFC North over the years.
11. Anthony Miller, WR
When Miller is right, he’s one of the team’s most exciting players. A ball of energy whenever he touches the ball, Miller finally seemed to figure it out last year. Among the most frustrating things throughout his career, however, has been the number of times Miller has been wide open only to see the ball be way off target. Either an improved Trubisky or the addition of Foles should help us see if Miller can be a stud or is destined to be a tease.