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Chicago Bears 2020 Roster Turnover: More is needed from the defensive line

In this 13 part series we’ll take an in depth look at each position group for the Chicago Bears with an eye towards the 2020 season. We’ll speculate on who stays, who goes, and some potential additions we’d like to see general manager Ryan Pace make.

Bears beat the Vikings 21-19 to finish their disappointing season 8-8 Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Akiem Hicks - Signed through 2021 - The Chicago Bears sorely missed Hicks’ mammoth presence in the middle of their defense last year. A minor knee injury sidelined him early in the season for one game, then when he returned a fluke elbow injury landed him on injured reserve. He battled back to get activated late in the season, but he was clearly in pain throughout that week 15 game against the Packers.

The Bears need the 30-year old Hicks to help create one on one opportunities for the other members of the defensive line, not to mention to take some pressure off of Khalil Mack, who offenses focused extra blockers on with Hicks sidelined.

Eddie Goldman - Signed through 2022 - The nose tackle in a 3-4 defense usually does all the dirty work, and stopping the run is their primary focus. Goldman will never fill the stat sheet, but his presence helped the Bears give up less than 4 yards per rush (4th best in the NFL), and end up 9th in rushing yards allowed per game (102 ypg). He’s an integral part of their defense and at just 26-years old his play should be able to remain at a high level for the duration of his contract.

Bilal Nichols - Signed through 2021 - There wasn’t a sophomore jump from Nichols after playing so well as a rookie, but a broken hand did have something to do with that. In 2018 he played in 14 games and he racked up 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 5 tackles for loss, and 7 QB Hits, but last season he played one less game, but had no sacks, a fumble recovery, 1 TFL and 2 QBH.

Nichols has something to prove in 2020.

Roy Robertson-Harris - Restricted free agent Signed through 2020 - RRH didn’t see a jump in production either, and that was in a season where he got 7 starts in 15 games. But he is still relatively new as a 5-technique defensive end, and he won’t turn 27-years old until this summer. He went from playing 34% of the defensive snaps in 2018 to 51% in 2019, but he wasn’t able to make more of an impact. I expect the Bears to bring him back, and like Nichols, he should be playing with a chip on his shoulder. (EDIT: Bears gave him a second round tender)

Nick Williams - Free agent - Williams literally came out of nowhere with the first sack of his career in 2019 (he ended up with 6) while playing more snaps than his previous four years combined. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and at 30-years old he’ll be looking for a decent contract to close out his career. His 42 tackles was more than any other d-lineman on the Bears and I’d like to see him return if the two sides can work out a deal.

Brent Urban - Free agent - I thought Urban played well after signing around midseason and if the Bears don’t bring Williams back they might look to Urban to fill a backup role.

Abdullah Anderson - Signed through 2020 - Anderson has been solid the last two preseasons, and he finally got a chance to play in the regular season last year with 6 games. He plays well against the run and if the 24-year old can keep working on his craft he could stick around in 2020.

2020 OUTLOOK - With Hicks, Goldman, and Nichols, the Bears feel set along their front, as long as they can stay healthy, and if they can bring back Williams and Robertson-Harris, they’ll have a solid rotation. A solid rotation is fine, but the 2020 Bears need more than fine. They need Hicks to get back to his dominating self and they need Nichols to flash more consistently.

While I can’t see the Bears dipping into free agency for a significant player, I could see them picking a defensive lineman in the NFL Draft if one falls into place for them. Our NFL Draft guru, Jacob Infante, has scouted Josiah Coatney from Ole Miss and he thinks he would be a nice day three pick.

The Bears don’t need much help along the defensive line, but Coatney could fit their BPA approach around the fifth or sixth round. He is a sizable defender who uses his hands well and plays the game with good pad level.

Coatney (6’3”, 309) could develop into a rotational piece that can play anywhere along their d-line.

What do you guys think the Bears will do at d-line in 2020?