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NFL Draft

Chicago Bears 53-Man Roster Projection

  • The Draft Network
  • July 4, 2021
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A lot of the focus of the Chicago Bears’ offseason has been on 11th overall pick Justin Fields and his development—and rightfully so—but the Bears still have a lot of tough roster decisions to make before they take the field in Los Angeles on Sunday Night Football in Week 1. Here’s a look at how the Bears’ 53-man roster could look at that time (players at each position are listed in alphabetical order):

Quarterback (3)

  1. Andy Dalton
  2. Justin Fields
  3. Nick Foles

This is pretty simple. Dalton and Fields will compete for the starting job in training camp, and it’s likely that both start games for the Bears at some point this season. The Bears could move Foles to a team looking to add a veteran quarterback presence (the New York Jets?), but it seems increasingly likely that the Bears will be stuck with Foles through this season.

Running Back (5)

  1. Tarik Cohen
  2. Khalil Herbert
  3. David Montgomery
  4. Ryan Nall
  5. Damien Williams

Cohen, Montgomery, and Williams will shoulder the load for the Bears’ running game. Montgomery is looking to take the leap into stardom, while Cohen hopes to come back as good as new from an ACL injury, and Williams is a solid, versatile veteran. The rookie Herbert will likely return kicks for the Bears and Nall sneaks onto the roster as one of the last guys due to his ability to contribute on all four phases of special teams.

Wide Receiver (6)

  1. Damiere Byrd
  2. Marquise Goodwin
  3. Anthony Miller
  4. Darnell Mooney
  5. Dazz Newsome
  6. Allen Robinson II

Mooney and Robinson will be one of the better receiving duos in the league in 2021. Goodwin and Byrd are both new additions who add elite speed to the outside of the Bears’ offense. The rookie Newsome was expected to compete for the starting slot receiver role but a broken collar bone in OTAs put that in jeopardy. With Newsome behind on his development, Miller will almost assuredly make the team and get one last chance to show he is mature enough to be a consistent contributor in the NFL.

Tight End (4)

  1. Jake Butt
  2. Jimmy Graham
  3. J.P. Holtz
  4. Cole Kmet

Kmet now has his feet underneath him after a year in the league and is poised to take a big step in his second season. Graham will be a red zone threat and veteran presence in the locker room. Holtz is really more of a fullback than a tight end. But even though he will rarely show up in the box score, his prowess as a blocker will be crucial for a Bears team that needs to run the ball better in 2021 than it did in 2020. Butt is a former college star at Michigan who hasn’t been able to stay healthy at all in the NFL. The Bears brought him in for a tryout in the offseason, and if he can find a way to stay healthy, he could be a steal for the Bears.

Offensive Line (8)

  1. Alex Bars
  2. Larry Borom
  3. James Daniels
  4. Germain Ifedi
  5. Teven Jenkins
  6. Sam Mustipher
  7. Cody Whitehair
  8. Elijah Wilkinson

It seems like the Bears will go with a starting five of Jenkins-Daniels-Mustipher-Whitehair-Ifedi up front to begin the year. That leaves Bars as the backup guard, who could also probably play right tackle in a pinch. The other rookie, Borom, will push Ifedi for the right tackle gig, and Wilkinson will provide versatile depth as he can play both tackle spots.

Defensive Line (6)

  1. Angelo Blackson
  2. Mario Edwards Jr.
  3. Eddie Goldman
  4. Akiem Hicks
  5. Bilal Nichols
  6. Khyiris Tonga

The Bears will start Goldman, Hicks, and Nichols. Edwards will be used in pass-rush situations and Blackson will be the primary backup at both defensive end spots. The Bears opt to keep Tonga rather than try and pass him through waivers to get him to the practice squad. 

Inside Linebacker (4)

  1. Joel Iyiegbuniwe
  2. Christian Jones
  3. Roquan Smith
  4. Danny Trevathan

This is a pretty straightforward position group. Smith and Trevathan are the unquestioned starters with Jones backing them up. The fourth and final spot comes down to Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods, but Iyiegbuniwe gets the nod since he’s a better special teams player.

Outside Linebacker (5)

  1. Jeremiah Attaochu
  2. Trevis Gipson
  3. Khalil Mack
  4. Charles Snowden III
  5. Robert Quinn

Mack and Quinn are the starters and Attaochu will be their primary backup. Gipson rarely played last year as he was transitioning positions from an interior defensive lineman in college to a stand-up outside linebacker in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. The Bears hope he is ready to contribute in 2021. The final spot goes to Snowden, the rookie from Virginia. The Bears got an absolute steal by signing him as an undrafted free agent. Snowden was widely expected to be drafted but likely fell due to an ankle injury that he suffered in college. Snowden needs time to add weight before he’s truly ready to contribute in the NFL, but there’s no way he makes it through waivers and onto the Bears’ practice squad. Keeping someone with Snowden’s upside on the roster to give him time to develop will absolutely be worth it for Chicago, and they did essentially the same thing with Gipson last season, so there is precedent.

Cornerback (5)

  1. Artie Burns
  2. Thomas Graham Jr.
  3. Jaylon Johnson
  4. Desmond Trufant
  5. Kindle Vildor

Johnson takes over as CB1 after Kyle Fuller’s release. Trufant has struggled with injuries and poor play in recent years, but the Bears are counting on the veteran to get back on track. Vildor, a second-year player from Georgia Southern, was reportedly very impressive in minicamp and OTAs and could challenge Trufant to start opposite Johnson. If he doesn’t win a job on the outside, Vildor has a good chance to start at nickelback, where he will be challenged by the rookie Graham. Burns is a former first-round pick who provides quality depth.

Safety (4)

  1. Deon Bush
  2. Tashaun Gipson Sr.
  3. Deandre Houston-Carson
  4. Eddie Jackson

Jackson and Gipson are back as the ball-hawking duo at the backend of the Bears’ defense. Houston-Carson had a strong season last year as the third safety and will reprise that role. The final spot comes down to Bush, Marqui Christian, and Jordan Lucas, but the Bears opt to keep Bush, who has been a part of the organization the longest.

Specialist (3)

  1. Pat O’Donnell
  2. Cario Santos
  3. Patrick Scales

These three were honestly among the Bears’ best players in 2020. Keeping the trio together was a smart move by Ryan Pace, and hopefully the Bears can continue to rely on their special teams.

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