The Chicago Bears are hoping for a bit more luck this season. A year after winning just three games, the Bears enter the 2017 season with a remodeled quarterback group and a quietly strong group of players along the line of scrimmage. If the Bears find success this season, it’s going to be centered on winning at the point of attack on both sides of the football.
So it’s hardly a surprise that the majority of the ten best players for the Bears this season reside in the trenches.
10. Mitch Trubisky, QB
The Bears have a number of young candidates who could have easily filled this spot, including Bullard and OT Charles Leno Jr. Another candidate was WR Cam Meredith before he tore his ACL in the team’s third preseason contest last weekend. Instead, the young franchise signal caller gets the nod. Trubisky may not enter the season as the starter, but I think he should.
It will be difficult for Chicago to keep Trubisky off the field all season, and he’s shown excellent poise and promise with his throwing ability throughout his reps this summer.
9. Quintin Demps, SS
Demps brings a level of play-making to the Bears secondary that was sorely missed in 2016. He and rookie free safety Eddie Jackson have the potential to bring a massive upgrade on the back end, which is sorely needed against pass-happy teams such as Green Bay and Detroit. Demps has bounced around the league for his nine-year career (including stints in Philadelphia, Kansas City, New York and two separate runs with the Houston Texans) but he’s produced in every spot.
Demps plays with quickness and shows a nose for the football, which makes him a valuable piece in pass coverage.
8. Willie Young, DE
Young is a late bloomer, but he has had a strong stretch of production as a pass rusher in recent years. With 24 sacks in the past three seasons (and in just 28 starts), Young has been a constant fixture of disruption ever since he left Detroit and signed with the Bears in 2014.
7. Eddie Goldman, NT
Goldman is a wild card for Chicago. He’s surrounded by twitchy pass rushers in Floyd, DT Jon Bullard and defensive ends Willie Young and Akiem Hicks, who signed with the team in 2016. Physically speaking, Goldman is an impressive player who showed great promise as a rookie in 2015. His blend of penetration skill and as a point-of-attack anchor makes him an every down candidate along the interior.
Goldman isn’t the most established of the remaining defensive line group, but he does have the most upside as an all-around player.
6. Josh Sitton, OG
The four-time Pro Bowl performer was a surprise cut by the division-rival Green Bay Packers at the end of the 2016 preseason. Sitton played well in spite of the short turnaround to a new offensive line, as he was credited with just six total pressures in over 400-plus pass blocking reps by Pro Football Focus.
5. Jerrell Freeman, LB
Freeman was one of the best tackling linebackers in football last season, his first with the Bears. The free-agent addition from Indianapolis proved a paltry Colts defense isn’t the sole root of his gaudy statistics, as he eclipsed 100-plus tackles for the fourth time in five seasons (in just 12 games).
4. Jordan Howard, RB
The Bears offense figures to use him as a focal point. Not only does Howard’s down hill running style compliment the blocking strengths of his offensive line, he has the frame to withstand the beating.
The Bears’ passing attack needs further reinforcements, so look for the team to ride Howard and keep games close throughout the season.
3. Cody Whitehair, C
It’s a promising omen for general manager Ryan Pace to have such a successful rookie class in his back pocket, as both Whitehair and Floyd (plus RB Jordan Howard) were a part of the 2016 class. Pro Football Focus credited Whitehair as being the sixth-best center in all of football as a rookie. He’s able to fully showcase his short-area agility and body positioning skills as Chicago’s point man on the line.
2. Leonard Floyd, LB
Floyd enjoyed a productive rookie season in 2016, and the needle continues to point upward. It feels as though the only legitimate roadblock to long-term success for Floyd is durability, as he was dinged up both last season and earlier this preseason.
Physically, Floyd has excellent cornering ability and first-step explosiveness, making him a true breakout contender in his sophomore season.
1. Kyle Long, OG
Long, who was a first-round pick in 2013, has earned his status as a top-tier interior offensive lineman. Long has tremendous athletic traits and pairs that with excellent technique and tenacity at the point of attack. Agile enough to beat defenders across their face, and strong enough to uproot them off the line, Long truly is a do-it-all player.
MORE BEARS COVERAGE
- 4 things we learned about Chicago’s preseason win over Titans
- What does a successful season look like for Chicago?
- Chicago may want to rethink plan for how to use rookie QB
- What Leonard Floyd did well in 2016 and can improve on in 2017