At 1-6, the 2016 Chicago Bears have nothing to play for except pride and the future. Some players probably realize they are in their last season in Chicago, so they’ll go all out showing potential 2017 employers what they have to offer their team. Other players are trying to learn the pro game, get as comfortable as possible, so they can make an impact next season while trying to get the Bears back to respectability.
Chicago’s active roster is full of young players, with 21 players having 2 or fewer years of experience, and another 4 such players currently on injured reserve. There are only 11 current players on the roster that were acquired by the previous regime, and after two full offseasons of tinkering, there’s no doubt that this is general manager Ryan Pace’s and head coach John Fox’s team.
We’re still waiting to see whether that’s a good thing or not, but so far the Pace/Fox era hasn’t been very successful. I think the numerous injuries will be what ends up keeping this regime around to see if the young players acquired can pan out.
Pace’s first two 1st round picks have yet to make a huge impact, but he has a 2nd rounder looking like a steal. Cody Whitehair has started every game this season and he’s playing like a future Pro Bowler.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper recently dropped his latest rookie big board, where he ranks all the 2016 rookies using these parameters;
- This is a measure for all games this season, not just last week.
- Total snap count matters. Staying on the field is a measure of value.
- Positional value matters, but overall performance and impact on the team matter more.
- Relative value matters. I ask: Would this player be a starter on most teams or on a good team?
Since his list is behind a paywall, we won't highlight the entire thing, but we will tell you that he has Whitehair at #13.
“When I scouted Whitehair before the draft, I thought he would need to move away from tackle and play guard or center in the NFL. I thought he could be an immediate starter on the interior. Now, he has thrived in the middle of the Bears' offensive line after they initially slated him at guard, then moved him over after signing Josh Sitton. Chicago picked up a guy in the second round who can start for many years.”
Kiper also has Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard listed among his “next in line” players.
What are you expecting from these two as the season progresses and do you think any other Chicago rookies can creep up in Kiper’s rankings?