Defensive Line: 7
Key Players: Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris
Roster Depth: Brent Urban, Abdullah Anderson, John Jenkins, Trevon McSwain, Lee Autry
I went back and forth between a 7 and an 8 for this one. Akiem Hicks is a monster, assuming he can return to his pre-injury form in 2020. Eddie Goldman is a really good run-stuffing nose tackle, and Roy Robertson-Harris provides some nice juice as a situational pass rusher.
The wild card here is Bilal Nichols, who took a step back last year after a promising rookie season in 2018. If he can step up, this group should be really good. If he doesn’t, then they look a bit more like Hicks and a bunch of situational pieces. Brent Urban and Abdullah Anderson are both fine end of the roster players who won’t get pushed around too badly against the run but don’t offer much as pass rushers.
Edge rushers: 9
Key Players: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Barkevious Mingo
Roster Depth: Trevis Gipson, Isaiah Irving, James Vaughters, LaCale London, Ledarius Mack
Mack and Quinn are the headliners here, as the duo might be the best pass-rushing tandem in the NFL. Just don’t look too closely at the depth behind them, because it’s ugly. Mingo is a suitable coverage player and run defender, but offers nothing in the way of pass rush. Nobody else has any notable NFL experience.
If Mack and Quinn stay healthy, this is one of the best groups in the NFL. If one (or God forbid both) of them gets hurt, the Bears are in trouble.
Inside linebackers: 7
Key Players: Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods
Roster Depth: Rashad Smith, KeAndre Jones
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the starters are really good, but the depth is scary. Trevathan in particular is a really solid, smart player, while Roquan Smith has flashed all-pro ability through two years but needs to be more consistent. Both players ended 2019 on injured reserve and need to stay healthy this year, because the guys fighting for time behind them haven’t done much outside of special teams. Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis, who both played very well for extended stretches in 2019, are gone.