The three-win Bears need help in a lot of areas if they are going to be more successful in 2017 than they were last season.
Unfortunately, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Bears need instant-impact rookies but selected five players that need a lot of time to develop.
However, that doesn’t mean that none of them will.
Every year there is a surprise rookie or two that is thrusting into the lineup through solid play, injuries or other factors.
The Bears brought in five rookies and when looking at the roster, it’s easy to see that more of them could make an impact than originally thought just because of how thin the roster is.
Let’s go round-by-round to see what kind of impact each player could make:
First round: Mitch Trubisky, QB
The Bears made a huge splash by moving up to make sure that they got their QB of the future. However, the future is not now. In an ideal world the Bears won’t have to play Trubisky this season and right now they don’t want to. He’s behind Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez on the depth chart and the hope is that those two players can hold down the spot and keep the pressure off of the team to play the rookie.
Likely impact: Minimal
There will be pressure to play Trubisky, especially if the team isn’t winning and/or Glennon struggles, or worse, is injured and Sanchez plays poorly. Trubisky needs time and the more, the better.
Second round: Adam Shaheen, TE
The Bears are thin at tight end, with Zach Miller and Dion Sims being the only two in the position room with an extensive NFL playing time. Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker had some moments last year but neither really put a stamp on the TE spot after Miller was lost for the season.
Likely impact: Solid rotational player
It is all going to come down to how Shaheen adjusts making the leap from Division II to the NFL. He has the size and the speed but the learning curve and speed of play are major hurdles. He also likely won’t be able to get into the rotation much if he doesn’t understand his blocking assignments. However, by the midpoint of the season the Bears will hopefully be able to work him into games consistently.
Fourth round: Eddie Jackson, S
Eddie Jackson is the latest in a long line of third and fourth round safeties that the Bears have tried to plug in at the back end of the defense over the last decade. If that alone is any kind of indicator, then Jackson will see regular time in the defensive backfield rotation. However, even if he doesn’t, he will likely be the team’s starting punt returner.
Likely impact: Starter
While he might only be a starting on the punt return units, he could certainly have a big impact there. A lot has to be figured out at safety where veterans like Quintin Demps will be competing against guys such as Adrian Amos, Deiondre Hall and Jackson. It will a position group to keep an eye on and one where a rookie could see some playing time.
Fourth round: Tarik Cohen, RB
What impact could a fourth round, 5’6 running back have, especially with rookie sensation Jordan Howard coming back off a 1,300 yard season? Well there could be a role for Cohen. He has a speed element that Howard lacks and is a good receiver and could be a versatile weapon. He also could have a special teams role.
Likely impact: Role player
Much will be decided on how he adjusts to the game’s top level after playing at the FCS level. He’s a small back, in the mold of guys such as Darren Sproles. Sometimes those guys can make an impact right away but other times they need to grow into their roles. Some of that depends on how quickly coaches can find roles for them to be successful in. Cohen has a skill set that can help the Bears but how quickly they can utilize it is still TBD.
Fifth round: Jordan Morgan, G
Morgan, like most of his draft mates, is a project. He too is making a large jump in competition but he is also coming into a position group that is among the deepest on the roster. Morgan is behind Pro-Bowlers Kyle Long and Josh Sitton and also behind quality back ups like Eric Kush.
Likely impact: None
Fifth rounders aren’t always guaranteed a roster spot, especially when they come into a position group such as the one the Bears have. With Kush, Cody Whitehair, Cornelius Edison and Hroniss Grasu the Bears have plenty of options for their starting center and back up guard spots, it’s going to be tough for Morgan to find a role in there. He could be a practice squad candidate unless he shows he can really make the leap early in camp.
Which rookie do you think can make the most impact in 2017?