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Bears’ tight ends just miss a top 10 ranking

SB Nation is ranking each position group in the NFL and they have the tight ends of the Chicago Bears checking in at number 11.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-USA T

It seems there’s always at least one player on the Chicago Bears roster with some bad injury luck that gets the fans’ ire up when mentioned. So, let’s get this out of the way early and talk about Adam Shaheen. The bonus with any Shaheen discussion is that it’s not only his missing 13 games in two years that becomes a talking point, but also his second-round draft status that riles fans up.

The bust label is always thrown out when a player has injury issues, but is that fair?

When I think of busts, I think of drafted players that can’t play, not guys that are picked then struggle with injuries. Guys like Cade McCown, Jaron Gilbert, or Michael Haynes were all drafted then flamed out because of lack of talent. But a guy like Marc Columbo, who suffered through injuries in Chicago only to have a successful career in Dallas once healthy, or Dan Bazuin, who suffered a knee injury that prevented him from even playing in the NFL, shouldn’t be looked at as busts.

So where does that leave Shaheen?

His injuries haven’t been serious to the point that they should limit his athleticism, so we’ll find out what his upside is this year.

If he stays healthy.

It’s always going to come back to heath until he plays a season relatively unscathed, but the last two offseasons he has looked ready to make a leap. So far at OTAs, the beat writers have talked up how Shaheen has looked, and at training camp a year ago, it was Shaheen making the crowd take notice with his numerous red zone catches, and all around solid play. Also, the Bears we’re doing a bunch of stuff from double tight end sets in Bourbonnais, and it looked like they had big plans for the position group in 2018.

But Shaheen suffered a preseason injury and we never really got to see that aspect of Matt Nagy’s offense.

That could change in 2019.

SB Nation has been running through a ranking for each position group in the NFL and they have the Bears’ tight ends checking in at 11th overall. Some of that does have to do with the returning Trey Burton, who set career highs across the board in 2019 with 54 receptions (10th highest among TEs), 569 yards (13th), and 6 touchdowns (tied for 4th at his position), but they are taking depth into consideration as well.

They have Shaheen (TE2) and Ben Braunecker (TE3) listed on their spreadsheet, so do those two names bring enough juice to get the Bears ranked sop high?

The Bears running game did see a boost in production when Shaheen became their primary in-line (Y) tight end, but I’d still like to see more from the 6’6”, 270 pounder. He has the physical traits to become an above average blocker, and the athleticism to be a weapon in the passing game.

Braunecker will back up at both the Y and the U (move TE), plus he could play as an H-Back. But the wildcard at the position could be Bradley Sowell, who as the swing tackle in 2018 played more of a tight end role, prompting the Bears to move him to full time tight end this year.

Chicago also has a slew of undrafted free agents in camp, so what are your overall thoughts on the position, and on SB Nation’s ranking?