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If Bears Want an Elite Defense in 2018, They Will Need Multiple Rookies to Contribute

| May 16th, 2018

The Bears did not invest many high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball last month, outside of top selection Roquan Smith. But there’s a good chance the team will need multiple rookie defensive players – all acquired day three or later – to play prominent roles in they want to be an elite unit in 2018.

  • Smith is a given. His ability to cover all parts of the field is something the Bears haven’t had since Brian Urlacher and, like Urlacher, the general expectation is that Smith will be one of the top rookies in the league.
  • Kylie Fitts is going to have the easiest path to the starting lineup. Sam Acho and Aaron Lynch have proven to be nothing more than journeymen and Fitts has the ability to be a top-tier pass rusher. If not for a series of injuries in college, he would’ve been selected significantly higher in the draft. While much of the focus is on pass rush, Bears scout David Williams said the team thinks Fitts can play the run from Day One and has upside as a pass rusher.
  • Another Bears scout, Chris Prescott, was confident in Bilal Nichols:“You’re talking about a guy you expect year one to come in and probably immediately backup at all three positions,” Prescott told the team website. “I think this is a guy who can come in and help you right away.” Nichols has the size and strength to take on blocks in the NFL and combines that with rare athleticism for the position. Nichols is bigger than current projected starting defensive end Jonathan Bullard and nearly as athletic. With Roy Robertson-Harris being smaller and not likely able to take on blocks in the team’s base defense, Nichols could be Bullard’s primary competition for a starting job. Even if he doesn’t start, Nichols will probably take the role Bullard had last year, playing 25 to 50 percent of the snaps weekly.

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