As the heat of the 2020 NFL offseason dies down, much time has passed to sit and reflect on the Bears’ haul in this year’s draft.
Garnering mostly favorable reviews given their lack of significant draft capital, Chicago was able to address nearly every need they had on their roster with their selections. Their three fifth-round picks having been praised in particular, the overall talent the team came away with should be able to contribute to some degree in the immediate future.
However bright their futures may be, the rookies will need to carve out some sort of role for themselves in their first year in the league. It could prove to be a challenge on a team whose starting lineup has few holes, but there should be some chances for most of the Bears’ draft picks to contribute right away.
To project how each of their rookies might do this coming year, let’s take a stab at predicting the stat lines for each of the Bears’ rookies in 2020.
Kmet faces a steep hill to climb in order to put together a stellar rookie year.
For starters, tight ends historically struggle in their first seasons. Only two tight ends have had over 600 yards receiving in their rookie campaigns over that past 17 years. That alone should hurt Kmet’s chances of putting up significant production, but factoring in Jimmy Graham’s presence could hurt that even more.
That said, don’t panic if the second-round pick doesn’t light up right away in Chicago’s offense. Such a seamless transition to the NFL is incredibly rare for his position, so his rookie production might not be all that sexy.
Prediction: 14 games and 4 starts; 24 receptions, 206 yards, 3 TDs
Unlike Kmet, Johnson is in a position where he can make an immediate impact right away.
Not only is Johnson arguably more polished at his position than Kmet is at his, but the Utah cornerback faces less competition to obtain meaningful reps right away. He is far and away the best option to start at the boundary cornerback position, as the likes of Kevin Toliver, Artie Burns and Tre Roberson lack the high ceiling that Johnson has.
There may be a chance Johnson doesn’t become the starter in Week 1, but even if that does come true, he will likely lock down the starting role early in the year. His physical, fluid and intelligent style of play should translate well to the next level, and that should see him produce in his rookie year.
Prediction: 16 games and 14 starts; 55 tackles, 2 INTs, 11 PBUs
When the Bears selected Gipson, they certainly had their future plans in mind.
An athletic, lengthy prospect with great physical tools and a high motor, Gipson has a high ceiling for a fifth-round pick and could fight for a starting position in a few years down the line. In the meantime, however, he will battle with Barkevious Mingo for snaps as the team’s top reserve edge rusher. Mingo will likely take more reps to begin with given his experience in the league, but Gipson should play some sort of role in the Bears’ defense in 2020.
His stats won’t jump off the page playing behind Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, but Gipson should have his chances to prove himself as a pass rusher in Year 1.
Prediction: 14 games and 1 start; 15 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 TFLs
Vildor projects well as a physical nickelback in Chicago’s defense who should be able to compete for a starting role when Buster Skrine’s time with the team comes to an end.
However, the Georgia Southern alum could struggle with finding significant playing time in his rookie year. Being a backup will limit his playing time as it is, but he also faces tough competition to obtain backup slot reps in Duke Shelley. Vildor’s chances of seeing the field could possibly increase if the Bears plan on using him as a field cornerback to back up Kyle Fuller, but his slot projection means that 2020 could see much of his production come on special teams.
Ryan Pace doesn’t tend to place his draft picks on waivers—save for the occasional seventh-round pick—so Vildor’s spot on the roster is presumably safe. He could end up as an inactive player on some games, but he should be able to find some playing time on special teams and in certain sub packages.
Prediction: 10 games; 12 tackles, 1 PBU
The exact capacity for the role Mooney will play in 2020 is currently unknown. He has a chance to take over as the starting ‘Z’ receiver, but with Ted Ginn Jr. and Riley Ridley fighting for the same role, that spot is far from guaranteed.
Mooney will more than likely make it to the 55-man roster, but the Bears have a handful of receivers on their bench who have legitimate claims to meaningful playing time. He does bring an element of speed to their offense that few on Chicago’s roster can match, so he should play some sort of role in his rookie year.
Overall, though, Mooney’s rookie campaign might not jump off the page, but some of the flashes he will likely show should indicate a larger role for him with the Bears down the line.
Prediction: 10 games and 2 starts; 18 receptions, 238 yards, 1 TD
The odds seems tough for Hambright to make it onto the 55-man roster.
Aside from the projected starting offensive linemen, players like Jason Spriggs, Rashaad Coward and Alex Bars all project as likely roster spot inhabitants. That’s not even including fellow seventh-round pick Lachavious Simmons, who will also be looking to claim a roster spot.
While Hambright has some physical tools and athletic abilities to work with, he isn’t polished or strong enough to make much of an impact in the NFL yet. Expect him to spend most, if not all, of the 2020 season on the practice squad.
Prediction: N/A (practice squad)
As is the case with Hambright, Simmons presumably won’t have many chances to prove himself against NFL defenders in the regular season.
Given that he’s a seventh-round player from an FCS school, it could be difficult for Simmons to crack the 55-man roster, let alone see significant playing time. Similar to his fellow late-round offensive lineman, Simmons will likely spend his rookie year on the practice squad.
Prediction: N/A (practice squad)