Bears’ 53-man roster projection following 2022 NFL draft

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The 2022 NFL draft is in the books, and the Chicago Bears are gearing up for the next stage of their offseason before breaking for the summer.

General manager Ryan Poles turned six draft picks into 11, including a pair of impactful defensive backs in cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker in the second round. He also added a speedy receiver in Velus Jones Jr. in the third round and four offensive linemen on Day 3.

Following the NFL draft and rookie minicamp, here’s a look at our early 53-man roster projection for the Bears, which features some rookie surprises.

Quarterback (2)

AP Photo/Aaron Gash

There’s no disputing that Fields is QB1 heading into the 2022 season, where the expectation is he’ll take a big leap in Year 2. Poles made it clear that Siemian, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, will serve as his backup. Chicago released veteran Nick Foles last weekend.

Running back (5)

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The Bears have a solid running back room led by Montgomery and Herbert. Chicago added Ebner in the sixth round of the draft to bring some speed and special teams versatility to the roster. He joins Evans and Blasingame as the newcomers this season.

Wide receiver (5)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Bears didn’t do too much to address the receiver position in the NFL draft, selecting the speedy and versatile Jones in the third round. While he probably sits behind Mooney, Pringle and St. Brown on the depth chart, the expectation is he’ll be a starter come Week 1 and surpass St. Brown.

Tight end (4)

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The Bears currently have just four tight ends on the roster, and they’re all expected to make the cut right now. Kmet is entering his third season, where the hope is he can build off an encouraging Year 2. Chicago added depth behind Kmet with Griffin and O’Shaughnessy, as well as re-signed Horsted to a one-year deal.

Offensive line (10)

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The Bears drafted four offensive linemen in the NFL draft — all on Day 3. It’s an indication that Poles is content with the current crop of players, including Whitehair, Patrick, Borom and Jenkins. The only question is who will be occupying the vacant right guard spot.

Defensive line (5)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The interior of the defensive line isn’t as strong as the edge, but there’s plenty of depth at the position. The Bears added Jones in free agency to serve as the starting three-technique while Tonga looks like he’ll be the nose tackle. Edwards and Blackson are strong depth along the interior, which is good news considering Poles didn’t address the interior in the draft.

Edge rusher (4)

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Despite the departure of Khalil Mack this offseason, the Bears are in a good position off the edge. Quinn is coming off a dominant year and Chicago is in a good position with Gipson and Muhammad anchoring the other side. The Bears drafted Robinson in the fifth round, and he’s someone who has the potential to develop into an impact player on the road.

Linebacker (5)

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

Smith is coming off another impressive season that earned him second-team All-Pro honors. The Bears added Morrow in free agency to serve as a starter. But there’s a question about who will join them as a starter. Right now, it looks like Adams is the favorite to play strong side linebacker. While Chicago didn’t draft a linebacker, they landed a top undrafted free agent in Sanborn, who has a great chance to make the roster.

Cornerback (6)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

  • Jaylon Johnson

  • Kyler Gordon

  • Thomas Graham Jr.

  • Tavon Young

  • Kindle Vildor

  • Duke Shelley

Cornerback was the defense’s biggest weakness last season, and the Bears addressed it with their first draft pick in Gordon, who projects to serve as a starter opposite Johnson on the outside. Chicago added Young in free agency, where he’s the favorite to occupy the slot.

Safety (4)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

  • Eddie Jackson

  • Jaquan Brisker

  • Dane Cruikshank

  • DeAndre Houston-Carson

Jackson is getting a fresh start in Matt Eberflus’ defense, where the hope is he’ll get back to his playmaking form. But the question was who would start at strong safety? The Bears found their guy in Brisker with their second draft pick. Meanwhile, Chicago has some solid depth with Cruikshank and Houston-Carson.

Specialists (3)

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

  • K Cairo Santos

  • LS Patrick Scales

  • P Trenton Gill

The Bears special teams will look a little different this season following the departure of punter Pat O’Donnell, who signed with the Packers in free agency. Chicago signed Winslow earlier this offseason and drafted Gill in the seventh round. Where things stand, I’m going with the young rookie to win the starting job.

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