If a couple youngsters keep on their current development track, the defensive line of the Chicago Bears could be really special in 2019.
A year ago the Bears opened the season with six defensive lineman, but with so much talent at other places, and with the Bears top five looking set, they could opt to carry only five at the position.
I was so impressed by rookie Bilal Nichols a year ago. His technique seemed to improve as the year wore on, which is probably why he ended up starting six games down the stretch. He may not have been as stout against the run, but his pad level and hand usage makes me believe that all he needs is some NFL quality strength training to become an all around threat. If you haven’t seen the outstanding video breakdown buy Robert Schmitz, you need to do yourself a favor and check that out as soon as possible. Robert breaks down Nichols, and gives some love to Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks too.
Goldman is one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the league, but that goes with the territory of playing nose tackle. He’s a rock up front, but also shows good first step quickness.
Hicks, who is still underrated, made his first Pro Bowl in 2018, but there’s still plenty of NFL fans that don’t understand how special a player he is. He excels at every aspect of his job, plus he’s a leader in their locker room.
The other young gun that I was impressed with last year was Roy Robertson-Harris who saw his defensive playing time percentage increase from 19.9% in 2017 to 33.6% in 2018. His numbers increased across the board, and at an athletic 6’7”, 294 pounds, he could be the type of guy that defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano moves around a bit.
A good bet to make it
I still think there’s a place for Jonathan Bullard on this team, even if he never lives up to the ‘steal of the draft’ label that so many put on him when the Bears took him as a third rounder. He’s a good run defender and that still has some value as a 5th d-lineman.
On the bubble
Nick Williams was around all of last year, but he only played in a couple games. He’s a vet that can fill in if needed, but he’ll need a good camp to make the team again.
Abdullah Anderson looked solid last preseason, so he’ll be pushing for a spot this year after being a practice squadder a year ago.
Of this year’s UDFA crop, keep an eye on Jonathan Harris (6’5”, 290) from Lindenwood University (and Aurora, Illinois’ Waubonsie Valley High School). He has some upside as a 5-tech defensive end.
Other UDFAs trying to make an impact are Daryle Banfield (6’3”, 300) from Brown and Jalen Dalton (6’6”, 300) from North Carolina.
How many defensive linemen will the Bears carry in 2019?
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