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As Free Agency and the Draft Approach, a Full Breakdown of the Current Roster

| March 6th, 2019

As NFL teams leave the Combine in Indianapolis, the NFL offseason is about to ramp up. A brief timeline of what’s happening in the next two months:

  • Now: teams manage their current roster, finishing up cutting and re-signing their own players to make sure they’re under the salary cap before…
  • March 13: free agency begins. Teams must stay under the cap at this point, and they can officially sign players from other teams who are not under contract.
  • April 25-27: NFL draft.

Since we are just a few weeks away from the six-week period that features the main roster improvement time of the offseason, it’s a good time to take stock of where the Bears are at.

Current Roster

Let’s start by looking at players they already have under contract. A rough depth chart for that is shown below; players who have not played meaningfully in the NFL are not included. I should also note that I included the Bears’ 4 exclusive rights free agents, because those players are all but under contract unless the Bears decide not to sign them (equivalent to cutting a player currently under contract).


 


Areas to Improve

Now let’s take a closer look at that roster to see what areas need to be cleaned up, ranked roughly from most-to-least pressing.

  • Nickel cornerback. Sherrick McManis filled in admirably after Bryce Callahan got hurt last year, but he’s a 31 year old career special teamer for a reason. I’d feel much better about this position group, both in terms of starters and depth, if a new starter at nickel was signed and McManis slots in to a backup role next to Kevin Toliver.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Bottom of the Fifty-Three (40-59)

| July 19th, 2018

Most of the guys battling at the bottom of the roster either played for the Bears or another team in recent seasons. They have talent and have stuck in the league for a reason. Outside of the specialists, however, none are ideal starters.

59. Jonathan Anderson, LB

It’s kind of weird that the team lists Anderson as an outside linebacker. Was a college safety who has played inside up to this point in his career. Solid special teamer.

58. Marlon Brown, WR

The Bears love their Georgia guys. Brown is 6’4” — listed at 6’5” for some reason — but hasn’t been able to find a job in the NFL. He caught 49 passes as a rookie with the Ravens in 2013, but hasn’t caught a pass since 2015.

57. Cre’von LeBlanc, CB

LeBlanc can do some good things, but his shortcomings have hurt the Bears too many times the last two years.

56. John Timu, ILB

Ten years ago, Timu would’ve been a stud. He has great size and instincts, but his lack of speed and athleticism has killed him in pass defense.

55. Kasim Edebali, ILB

28-year-old who spent most of his career with the Saints. Had five sacks in 2015, but hasn’t done much since. Played for the Broncos and Lions last year, appearing in 13 games with one tackle.

54. Hroniss Grasu, C

Might be Ryan Pace’s worst draft pick. No single player more negatively affected the Bears run offense last year.

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Ranking the Bears: Guys Fighting At The Bottom of the 53

| July 21st, 2017

As the Bears move closer to training camp, we move closer to the top of the list. Most of the names here should be familiar, even though you may not remember they’re on the team. None, I don’t think, are guaranteed a roster spot.

Here they are, ranked with short bios. Once again, you’re welcome.

59. Jordan Morgan, OG. The Bears have big plans for Morgan but it’s going to take him time. He’s a powerful blocker that could replace Josh Sitton in 2018. He just isn’t ready yet.


58. Patrick Scales, LS. He’s no Patrick Mannelly but he’s fine.

(Jeff’s Note: Comparing long snappers to Pat Mannelly is like comparing a pop artist to Roy Lichtenstein. Just because you’re not the greatest ever, doesn’t mean you can’t be great.)


57. Michael Burton, FB. Considered to be a true blocking back and should be an upgrade over last year’s dead weight, Paul Lasike. But can they really justify keeping a fullback who hasn’t shown he can do anything but block?


56. Hroniss Grasu, C. There was some optimism about Grasu last year but he never appeared in a game after tearing his ACL in August. He’s probably better than he was as a rookie, but what does that mean? The team brought back Eric Kush, another center who can also play both guard spots, so they’re certainly not banking on the former third-round pick. If Kush plays as well as he did last year, I’m not sure Grasu has a spot on the roster.

(Jeff’s Note: I’d be surprised if Ryan Pace was willing to call it quits on Grasu’s career, barring another significant injury this summer. But if the Bears are actually considering moving Cody Whitehair from center in favor of Grasu, I’d rather they cut the Oregon product now.)


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Ranking The Bears: The Long & Longish Shots

| July 19th, 2017

Training camp is just around the corner and the Bears have a number of young players with whom fans should become familiar. They also have a number of players who you won’t remember existed this time next year.

This is my second year doing a ranking of the roster and long gone are the likes of Kieran Duncan, Ben LeCompte and Joe Sommers. Last year’s list was topped with quarterback Jay Cutler — an argument I’d still make — but looking back it’s easy to see why the Bears didn’t win many games. This year, the bottom of their roster is much better and their top 10 is legitimately good.

At the time of this writing, the Bears have a full roster with 90 guys ready to head to camp. You don’t need to know all of them, but you probably want to. To save you some time, I ranked them all again.

You’re welcome.

90. Mitchell Kirsch, OL. UDFA from James Madison. Really hard to judge what he’ll be. Good size, average athleticism.

89. Hendrick Ekpe, Edge. UDFA who didn’t produce much at Minnesota or test very well at his pro day.

88. William Poehls, OT. Huge guy (6’7″, 334 pounds), Was a UDFA from Montana who has spent time on a couple of practice squads.

87. Titus Davis, WR. Third-year pro who has had trouble sticking with a team. Put up decent numbers at Central Michigan, but it’s hard to see him making the team. His brother Corey was the fifth pick in the draft last April.

86. Rashaad Reynolds, CB. A bit small (5’10”, 189) but jumped well at the combine in 2014. Hasn’t been able to stick after spending time with the Jaguars and Lions.


85. Daniel Braverman, WR. The next Wes Welker, right? Not quite. After what many thought was a strong training camp, Braverman didn’t make the final roster last year and nobody claimed him. When he finally got on the field, he had a tough time getting open and didn’t make anywhere near the impact many thought he would. Easily the winner of the 2016 Joe Anderson Boner Award. Could he repeat in 2017?

Jeff’s Note: Hahah.


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Ranking the Bears: The Top 10

| July 28th, 2016

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Here are the 10 best players on the team as they enter training camp.

10. Kevin White, WR. There’s definitely projection in this ranking but almost everyone has the same report on White: stud. While far from a finished product, most expect him to be a playmaker right away. He has the potential to be one of the best wide receivers in the league.

9. Jerrell Freeman, LB. When I watched Freeman, the one thing that really stood out to me was his ability to make blockers miss. Even in a phone booth, he’d make a little move to slip the block and make a play. Last season was by far his best, but the arrow seems to be pointing up even though he’s 30 years old.

8. Adrian Amos, S. A lot has been made of Amos not having ball skills, but I’m not too worried about that. He’s a torpedo who delivered more big hits than anyone else on the team last year. He has the potential to be one of the best safeties in the league.

7. Willie Young, LB. It was evident when Young got back to 100 percent last season. He had 18 hurries and  5 1/2 sacks in his final eight games as he recovered for a torn achilles suffered a year earlier. In two years with the Bears, he has 70 tackles and 16.5 sacks

6. Eddie Goldman, DL. A bit of projection in this one too but it seems safe. He was a good player at just 21 years old last year, showing more pass-rush than the Bears could have imagined. He struggled against the run early last year, but got better. He says he’s leaner this year, if that’s true, he could be able to dominate the middle of the line.

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Trench Warfare: Pace’s Roster Building Strategy Comes Into Focus

| June 6th, 2016

The following is a guest column by the artist known as Data, also going by the name Johnathan Wood. If you’d like to write a guest column for DBB, email jeff@dabearsblog.com.

General manager Ryan Pace has had 2 offseasons to shape the Bears roster the way he sees fit. There are a number of different ways you can look at his moves and draw conclusions about his priorities, many of which have been discussed in detail. Pace himself has talked repeatedly about wanting size, speed, length, and football junkies. He has shipped out locker room problems and replaced them with high character football players (Ray McDonald aside).

But when I’m looking at what a GM prioritizes, I look at how he allocates his resources. Who does he invest his high draft picks and big free agent contracts in? Looking at Chicago’s recent moves through this lens gives a clear answer: Ryan Pace wants to build a team that wins in the trenches.

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A Look at the Potential Fifty-Three on Memorial Day Weekend

| May 25th, 2014

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UPDATE: SOMEHOW I DIDN’T COPY OVER MY FULLBACK COLUMN WHEN POSTING. THIS IS NOW DONE.

Here is the breakdown of the 2013 Chicago Bears roster as they broke August and headed for the regular season:

Quarterbacks (2): Jay CutlerJosh McCown

Running backs (3): Michael Bush, Michael Ford, Matt Forte

Fullbacks (1): Tony Fiammetta

Wide receivers (6): Joe AndersonEarl BennettAlshon JefferyBrandon MarshallEric Weems, Marquess Wilson

Tight ends (3): Kyle Adams, Martellus Bennett, Steve Maneri

Offensive linemen (9): Taylor Boggs, Eben Britton, James Brown, Jermon BushrodRoberto Garza, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Jonathan Scott, Matt Slauson

Defensive linemen (9): Nate CollinsShea McClellinHenry Melton, Zach Minter, Cheta Ozougwu,Stephen PaeaJulius Peppers, Cornelius Washington, Corey Wootton

Linebackers (6): James Anderson, Jon Bostic, Lance BriggsBlake Costanzo, Khaseem Greene, D.J. Williams.

Cornerbacks (6): Zackary Bowman, Isaiah FreyTim JenningsSherrick McManisCharles Tillman, C.J. Wilson

Safeties (4): Chris Conte, Craig Steltz, Anthony Walters, Major Wright

Specialists (4): Robbie GouldDevin HesterPatrick MannellyAdam Podlesh

Understanding how much can change over the next three months, let’s try and project  what this year’s 53 might look like and identify what camp battles might truly exist in Bourbonnais. One thing that’ll surprise you? There are very few questions.

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