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10 Most Important Bears of 2021: #6 Khalil Mack

For the 13th straight year I’m bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Bears for the upcoming season. At number 6 is arguably the Bears best player, outside linebacker and perennial Pro Bowler, Khalil Mack.

NFL: Chicago Bears-Training Camp Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

If having Khalil Mack at number 6 in this year’s 10 Most Important Chicago Bears list seems low to me, then I’m sure it feels too low to a lot of you guys as well. I had him at 4 a year ago, and two years ago he was number 2 on my list. It’s not that I think his importance is waning at 30-years old, it’s simply that there are some others that are going to need to come through in a big way for the Bears this season.

Importance is subjective, so I certainly won’t argue if you have him higher on your list, but I just couldn’t get him in my top 5 this year.

However, he’s still damn good and the Bears are going to need him to keep doing Khalil Mack things if they want to have successful 2021 season.

He’s the type of generational game-wrecker that can have his fingerprints all over a defense’s performance, even if he just puts up pedestrian numbers. While some of Mack’s yearly stats weren’t popping off the page, Pro Football Focus had him graded as the best edge defender in the 2020 season.

He’s a joy to watch, but I honestly don’t appreciate him as much watching him live as I do when putting on the All-22. He’s a terror off the edge as both a pass rusher and as a run stuffer, and offenses are generally worried about him where ever he lines up.

Mack is going to be playing at his usual extremely high level all season long in 2021. That’s just a given. He didn’t miss any games in 2020 despite showing up on the injury repot several times with ankle, back, knee, and shoulder ailments. Neither he nor the team really ever commented on the severity of the injuries during the year, but at his end of the season press conference, GM Ryan Pace talked about how he appreciated Mack playing through the injuries.

I think the Bears would love to scale his playing time back just a bit from the 85% he played the last two years, and a more efficient offense could lead to that. So too could the emergence of second year pro Trevis Gipson, who had a nice summer of OTAs, and let’s not forget that free agent addition Jeremiah Attaochu gives the Bears an experienced pass rusher off the bench.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a more rested Mack able to avoid some of the nagging injuries he suffered the last couple years, which could allow his reps to be even more impactful this season.