I got this idea from a series of articles at The Draft Network, where they are giving their superlative picks in seven different categories for all 32 teams. I thought it would be a fun exercise to run through myself, so fun in fact that I sent the questions out to our team as well. And since I didn’t want us to have all the fun, I even shot out the question on Twitter to get your takes.
We’ve already looked at the Breakout Guy for the 2019 Chicago Bears, and the Comeback Kid, and now we’re focusing on the Bears’ Rising Star. But before we get into our picks, let’s see who Joe Marino of The Draft Network picked.
RISING STAR: WR ANTHONY MILLER
Leading all rookies in touchdown receptions in 2018, Miller’s first season in the NFL featured plenty of highlights. While the overall production wasn’t consistent, the flashes were those of a star in the making.
A perfect fit for the Nagy-Helfrich RPO-heavy creative offense, Miller is primed to cease opportunities in space and create big plays. A blend of fluidity, twitch and elusiveness combined with unbelievable hands, ball skills and a competitive demeanor, Miller’s production is capable of skyrocketing as a sophomore.
While a believer in the expected jump in play coming from Miller, I think the position group is too stacked for him to have eye-popping numbers, which is why I’m going with inside linebacker Roquan Smith. As a 21-year old rookie with no training camp or preseason, Smith led the Bears with 121 tackles, while adding 5 sacks, 5 passes defended, an interception, and 8 tackles for loss.
I’m predicting Smith is making the All-Pro Team in 2019 and he is the rising star of the Bears.
Now let’s check on who some other WCG staffers picked for their Rising Star for the 2019 Bears.
Aaron Leming - Roquan Smith, ILB
Last year’s linebacker class was one that we haven’t seen in a long, long time. Not only was Smith a standout, Darius Leonard, Leighton Vander Esche, Tremaine Edmunds and Fred Warner were all top 15 in total tackles. That means, there wasn’t a ton of focus on Smith, but this year that will change. He’s a perfect fit in Chuck Pagano’s scheme and will become not only a tackling machine, but have a surprising amount of sacks as a blitzer. When people talk about regression with the defense, the one factor they fail to recognize is Smith and by the end of 2019, he’ll be talked about as one of the best in the game.
Patti Curl - Roquan Smith, ILB
Despite leading the Bears in tackles — and coming in third in sacks — Roquan’s impressive rookie season was mostly overshadowed by the successes of the Bears’ other stars and Darius Leonard’s surprising DROY campaign. This year, Smith is primed to shine bright enough that the only people failing to notice him will be quarterbacks about to foolishly throw into his coverage.
Robert Schmitz - Allen Robinson II, WR
After Allen Robinson wrapped up his 2018 season, his 3rd consecutive season without 900+ yards, many began to suggest he was a “one-year wonder” who would never return to the dominance he displayed in 2015. Now more than a year removed from his ACL surgery, Robinson looks primed to remind the league just how good he is. The 25-year old wideout was unquestionably the most dominant receiver I saw in camp, and seem ready to ditch the “one-year wonder” moniker and become an outright star.
Ken Mitchell - Allen Robinson II, WR
Robinson is back, and by the end of the season look for people to be mentioning him in the top tier of wide outs in the league, certainly a top-10 guy. People forget he’s only 26 years old.
Erik Duerrwaechter - James Daniels, C
I’m staying with the O-line here, and pointing out a potential mainstay for years to come in Chicago’s trenches on offense. He dominated at the Center position while playing for a pro-ready group at Iowa. We’ve already seen him play solid football at the left guard position last season, and he’s returning to his natural position in his sophomore season. To say I’m excited about seeing what he’s capable of is a major understatement.
Josh Sunderbruch - Anthony Miller, WR
Miller needs space to succeed, and he’s the kind of player who is going to improve as Nagy has a chance to tailor the offense to his strengths. I think that in Year 2 of the Nagy Offense, Miller is going to be a comfortable target to move the chains for Mitchell, and I wouldn’t be surprised of some trickery sprang him for some amazing plays after the catch.
Sam Householder - Bilal Nichols, DL
Nichols is carving out a nice role on defense. He flashed last year, so I think a full offseason in an NFL weight training program and one season under his belt to get up to NFL speed will have done him good. I expect him to really come into his own this year and help rotate in with Hicks and Goldman to form a really, really dynamic defensive line.
Robert Zeglinski - Bilal Nichols, DL
It should be difficult to distinguish yourself on a defense as jam-packed with household names like the Bears. No matter what you do. No matter how special of a performance you might enjoy, Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson and or Akiem Hicks will eventually steal headlines. But that’s exactly what Nichols managed to do in 2018 anyway. Despite playing limited snaps as a rotational defensive lineman, Nichols was an an advanced interior wrecking ball. With apologies to the legendary playing careers of Matt Nagy and Joe Flacco, guys from Delaware aren’t supposed to look as refined and experienced like Nichols as a rookie.
I would be surprised if a full-time role this season didn’t mean regular fireworks for Nichols. On this occasion, he’ll be stealing headlines from Mack and company.
Now let’s check in with Twitter to see what some of you guys had to say about your Rising Star choice for the Bears.
B.Nichols, he’s put in the work during offseason, from a technical & physical standpoint. He will be the man opposite Hicks for seasons to come. Wouldn’t be surprised if he found himself in pro bowl this season. ⬇️— Jerome A. Turks (@Jay_Bubb86) August 23, 2019
Mitch Trubisky. He will prove that his play is a reason the Bears will have stability as an organization for many years to come. He will silence most of his critics. Something no QB has done in Chicago since Jim McMahon.— Brock Keevers ⬇️〽️ (@BKeevers11) August 24, 2019
With how much Nagy has played Wims. Perhaps they see him differently than we do. But i pick Wims , just give him a chance.— BearsDfense (@BearsDfense) August 23, 2019
Now it’s your turn, who is your Bears Rising Star for the 2019 season?