Bears depth chart predictions before final OTAs of year

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Way too early Bears depth chart predictions originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As the Bears begin their final OTA of the summer, we can start thinking about how the depth chart may shake out this year. It’s still very, very early for projections of this nature and a lot can change between now and the end of training camp. There will be surprising cuts across the league that could give Ryan Poles an unexpected opportunity to sign a new player. There could also be training camp standouts who demand a roster spot, and force tough decisions elsewhere on the roster. But for now, here’s a crack at how the Bears could align their depth chart.


Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian, Nathan Peterman

The easiest roster projection on the team. After he was denied the opportunity to compete for the starting job last season, this is Justin Fields’ team.


David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Darrynton Evans

Another fairly easy position to project as Montgomery projects to be the team’s bellcow, with Herbert coming in whenever Montgomery needs a breather. Evans’ change of pace and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield could earn him playing time in two-back formations. Trestan Ebner heads to the practice squad to continue working on his craft.


Khari Blasingame

Blasingame will be the Bears’ first official fullback since Michael Burton in 2018. He won’t just act as a lead blocker however. He can catch the ball in the passing attack and should be a core special teams player as well.


Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown, Chris Finke, Kevin Shaa

Wide receiver is one of the hardest positions to project for a couple of reasons. To start, the Bears have made it sound like they’ll move players around the field, so there may not be a true “X,” “Y,” or “Z” distinction for their players. Instead, guys may take turns at the various spots on the field. Second, there are so many unknowns with this position group that it’s hard to tell who may rise to the top at the back end of the depth chart. The nods have been given to St. Brown and Finke for their familiarity with Luke Getsy and Ryan Poles, respectively. Shaa also earns a spot for making some splash plays in OTAs (at least the ones that media have been invited to watch). David Moore misses out to give younger players a shot, and Dazz Newsome heads to the practice squad.


Cole Kmet, Ryan Griffin, James O’Shaughnessy

Is this the year Kmet finally breaks out? There should be opportunities for him to score some touchdowns after being held out of the end zone last season. Both Griffin and O’Shaughnessy are reliable veterans who can contribute in run-blocking and in the passing game.


Larry Borom, Julién Davenport, Braxton Jones

For now the left tackle job is Borom’s to lose. Davenport is a veteran who will provide valuable insurance at each tackle spot. Jones will spend 2022 developing.


Cody Whitehair, Dakota Dozier

Whitehair is really the only known commodity on the line, and has the most extensive experience. Dozier will back up several positions, like Davenport.


Lucas Patrick, Sam Mustipher, Doug Kramer

Patrick was a backup over his tenure with the Packers, but he started 28 games over the past two seasons due to injuries on Green Bay’s line. He’s earned rave reviews for his work ethic and leadership, and is expected to set a nastier tone on the line this season.


Zachary Thomas, Sam Mustipher, Dakota Dozier

Right guard is the biggest mystery on the team at this point in the season. Mustipher and Dozier have gotten the first crack at the position over the early stages of the summer program, but it will be interesting to see how the competition develops when mandatory minicamp and training camp get underway. In college, Thomas made it a goal in college not to draw any flags, and did pretty well. In 1,444 snaps between the 2020 and 2021 seasons he was only penalized three times. He has an opportunity to win a job this summer.


Teven Jenkins, Julién Davenport

Last season was a wash for Jenkins. He was tasked with taking on a new position (left tackle), then missed a good chunk of the season due to a back injury. When he was healthy, Jenkins then had to fight his way back into the lineup behind Jason Peters. This year he’s penciled in as the starting right tackle, where he’s comfortable from his Oklahoma State days. We’ll see if the move back to the right, plus a healthy start, help him develop into a reliable starter on the edge.


Robert Quinn, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson, Charles Snowden

It’s hard to ask anyone to replicate a record-breaking season, but the Bears will call upon Quinn to be the primary pass rusher yet again this season. Muhammad can chip in from the other side of the line, but his focus will be to stop the run first, and sack the quarterback second. The Bears are also banking on Gipson to take another step in his development as a rotational pass rusher, and will see what they have in Robinson, who’s expected to be a bit of a project player. Snowden earns a roster spot as a special teams contributor who provides good depth, too.


Angelo Blackson, Khyiris Tonga

With the Bears switching to a 4-3 defense, nose tackle won’t carry the same weight that it did in Vic Fangio and Sean Desai’s defense. Blackson earns the starting spot as a reliable veteran, while Tonga’s development as a rookie made Eddie Goldman expendable.


Justin Jones, Mario Edwards Jr., Auzoyah Alufohai

After the Larry Ogunjobi deal fell apart, Jones’ contract became the biggest for the Bears this offseason. He’ll be expected to disrupt both passing plays and running plays from the middle of the line. Edwards Jr. has primarily played defense end over his career, but this could be where he fits in best after taking a look at the rest of the Bears’ defensive line group. Defensive tackle could also be an area where Poles adds talent after other teams have made cuts.


Nick Morrow, Jack Sanborn

The Bears haven’t assigned linebacker positions yet, but for our purposes let’s pencil Morrow in the middle. Morrow has experience playing all three linebacker positions in this defense, and we’ve seen him call the plays at times over OTAs. If he goes down, Roquan Smith could replace him, or this could be where we see Sanborn, who has displayed solid zone pass coverage ability at Wisconsin.


Roquan Smith, Caleb Johnson

The Bears maximize Smith’s athleticism by having him play the Will position. This is the same spot where Darius Leonard thrived in Eberflus’ defense. Again, he could be interchangeable with Morrow, giving the team flexibility at the position. Johnson should be a core special teams player


Matt Adams, Jack Sanborn

Sam isn’t as critical in this defense as Mike or Will, since most defenses operate in nickel packages a good chunk of the time. Still, Adams could earn a starting spot given his familiarity with Eberflus’ scheme. The two overlapped for their entire four-year careers with the Colts.


Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Thomas Graham Jr., Kindle Vildor, Allie Green IV

No, Jaylon Johnson is not going to lose his starting job in this defense. Much was made of Johnson playing with the twos at OTAs last month, but it was either a message sent from the head coach to Johnson and the rest of the team that no one will be handed a job, or simply a way for the team to ramp him up since he missed previous minicamps. He should have a dynamite playmaking partner in Gordon, too.


Tavon Young, Thomas Graham Jr., Kindle Vildor

When the Bears signed Young, he became the presumptive starter on the inside. But Young has yet to make it on the field, at least when media have been able to attend OTAs, and that’s given Graham Jr. and Vildor the opportunity to show they can make plays in the middle too. Just like last year, this could develop into a competition to watch this summer.


Eddie Jackson, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Elijah Hicks

Will Eberflus finally be the man to unlock Pro Bowl play from Jackson again? Coaches have commended his work ethic and desire to work on his weaknesses, so we’ll see how that translates to the field. Houston-Carson is arguably the most reliable and versatile backup on the team, and Hicks provides intriguing playmaking ability as a developmental player.


Jaquan Brisker, DeAndre Houston-Carson

Coaches and teammates alike have raved about Brisker’s ability to punch the ball out, already. He’s also a strong tackler who could slide down into the box when the right situations arise. Brisker will be a sure-fire Week 1 starter, barring injury.


Cairo Santos

How nice is it not to worry about the kicker, again?


Trenton Gill

When the Bears drafted in the seventh round they bet he could be their punter for the foreseeable future. He’ll be the Bears’ first rookie punter since the Bears selected Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.


Patrick Scales

Scales is now the longest-tenured Bears player and has the long-snapper situation on lock. He’s been a key cog in smooth special teams operations for a while now.

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