Looking at a roster full of 90 players is usually a task in itself, especially when you don’t recognize a third of the names on it. Surprises happen each year — Both pleasant and some not so much — and there have been plenty of those over the past few seasons for the Bears.
With one of the deeper rosters that general manager Ryan Pace has had in his Bears tenure, 2018 appears to be a different story as the team heads into Training Camp. This could mean little-to-no undrafted free agents make the final cut.
Injuries will obviously play its part over the course of this next month-and-a-half before the start of the regular season, but the team appears to be well suited to handle a few minor camp ailments.
The business of the off-season has come and gone. With so many new faces, roster spots will be even harder to come by, especially with heated competition expected for multiple spots on the back end of the roster.
Who will emerge when all the dust clears on the offensive side of the ball and take the projected 25 spots?
Quarterback (2): Mitchell Trubisky and Chase Daniel
It’s possible head coach Matt Nagy could opt to bring all three quarterbacks into week one, but with roster spots at a premium during the cut-down period, Tyler Bray could be a long-shot at this point.
They are paying Daniel $3 million in 2018, but with him carrying a $5 million dead cap figure for the season, he’s 100% locked into the primary backup spot.
Putting thought to paper, quarterback appears to be one of the easier positions to predict heading into camp.
Running Back (4): Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham and Ryan Nall
As stated above, it’s going to be hard for any undrafted talent to find their way onto the roster this year, Nall included. Howard and Cohen are obviously locks at this point. It’s also safe to assume Cunningham is all but guaranteed a roster spot, barring something unforeseen.
The final spot likely comes down between Nall, Taquan Mizzell and Fullback Michael Burton. With added speed at other positions, it’s more likely Nagy values size and versatility over someone like the smaller, speedier Mizzell.
Special teams value could be the determining factor here.
Wide Receiver (6): Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Kevin White, Josh Bellamy and Javon Wims.
Receiver is one of the more interesting battles as the team heads into camp.
After landing their top receiver target in Robinson on a 3 year/$42 million deal, they also spent quality cap space on Gabriel. If that wasn’t enough, they traded back into the second round to grab Miller. Without a shadow of a doubt this trio is locked in.
After those three, the competition becomes much more interesting, starting with White. It’s going to take a horrendous six weeks, or a serious injury, to keep White from playing out the final year of his rookie deal.
Which leaves a pair of potential openings left for a collection of receivers. The caveat being special teams value, with at least one of those spots.
Bellamy, Wims, Bennie Fowler, last year’s camp hero Tanner Gentry, Matt Fleming and veteran Marlon Brown all seemed primed for a good ole’ fashion battle royale.
Special teams ace Bellamy appears to have a large leg up over the rest of the competition for one of those final spots.
Unless someone truly stands out in a big way during the preseason, it’s hard to see that final spot not coming down to Wims and Fowler. At this point, the edge goes to the 2018 seventh rounder.
Who knows, maybe Gentry will show up in the preseason and make his mark but it’s that seems like more of fantasy.
Tight End (4): Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims and Daniel Brown
This may be the deepest position on the roster, especially after keeping Sims and his $6.33 million salary for the 2018 season. The team paid big money to Burton (4 years/$32 million) in March, after he spent four years with the Eagles in a part time role. But coming from Doug Pederson’s system (another Andy Reid disciple), he should be the perfect fit in Nagy’s offense.
Even after being selected in the second round of last year’s draft, Shaheen is somewhat of the forgotten piece at the position. As long as he stays healthy, I think he’ll see a good role as the inline tight end, and also in the red zone.
The last spot will likely come down to either Brown or Braunecker, but early reports from off-season programs lead me to believe Brown will win the job.
Offensive Line (9): Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Eric Kush, Jordan Morgan and Bradley Sowell
This is where the numbers game gets a bit tricky.
The coaching staff could opt to go with eight linemen to start off the season, but the Chiefs kept nine heading into last year. Sowell has enough flexibility to make keeping an extra tackle a logical choice.
There was only one true move this off-season among the starting five, which came at left guard.
After declining Josh Sitton’s third-year option, Daniels made a ton of sense in the second round after the Colts took Quenton Nelson before the Bears selection in the first.
The rest of the starting line stays the same, barring injury. They do get Kush back after missing the entire year last season. Pace also thought enough of Sowell to bring him back on a two year deal.
The true questions comes at the final interior position starting with Morgan, a fifth-round pick from last year. He’s currently on the bubble and will be competing for a final spot with veteran Earl Watford and former third-round pick Hroniss Grasu.
All in all, the final spot will likely be the last player off the bench, so they could choose to keep Morgan around for another season to see how he develops.
Offensive Depth Chart: