I had to save this positional preview until the end of my series because of all the chatter surrounding the Chicago Bears adding another edge. So far, they've done nothing, but plenty of veteran defensive ends are available that could help them get after opposing quarterbacks.
I think a move is coming, and whether it's a free agent or via a trade, that player will be a lock to make the 53-man roster. So that may only leave three more roster spots for defensive ends, depending on how many d-tackles they carry.
The way the roster is currently constructed, DeMarcus Walker is their top end, and he'll be expected to build off his career 2022. His run defense will provide an upgrade for sure, but he needs to get to the quarterback. He had seven sacks and 16 QB hits last year for the Titans, both of which would have led the Bears. He's played defensive end in both a four and three-man line, and he's played defensive tackle too, so the Bears could use him where they like the matchup best.
Rasheem Green is another solid run defender, and during his five-year career, he's started 29 of the 69 games he played in. He's another player that can rush from the interior.
A good bet to make it
Trevis Gipson had a down 2022, but it was also his first season back playing out of a three-point stance after two years of lining up at outside linebacker. The Bears have been giving him reps on both sides during the offseason after playing almost exclusively on the left side last year. He faced a bunch of double teams in 2022, so if he's singled up more this year, he could surprise.
Second-year pro Dominique Robinson flashed in week one last year, then he just was kind of there all season, which left him disappointed in his overall rookie year.
"I think it went good, but it didn't go how I fully wanted it," Robinson said via the Canton Repository. "My original goals before I got drafted were to make the 53 (man roster) and to make an impact on special teams, the defense and whatever role they gave me. I did complete those goals, but once I became a starter, and I knew that I was going to get reps, my goal then switched to making an impact."
Robinson is a long and athletic prospect, but prior to 2020 at Miami (Ohio), he was a wideout. He played quarterback in high school, so his defensive line technique is still a work in progress. NFL players often make a nice jump in play during their second season after being able to dedicate a full offseason to their craft, and that's what Robinson is hoping happens.
"When I look back on it, I feel like I needed to use power a lot more, but my technique on it wasn't the greatest, so when I got in the game, I reverted back to using my speed," Robinson added. "That's what I've been using all season, so whenever guys were watching film on me, they knew that I was going to go speed rush, speed rush, speed rush, the whole game, and it never gave them a challenge."
His 4.7 speed off the edge is nice, but continuing to hone his cross-chop, and learning a counter, or having the leverage and power to bullrush occasionally will keep offensive tackles on their toes. With more tools in his pass-rush toolbox, Robinson wants to impress the coaching staff in year two.
"I took two weeks off, to relax and get my body together," Robinson said. "I'm back in the weight room, and I'm trying to get stronger. I might put on a little more weight, but not much. I need to work on my speed and power a lot. I need to be able to switch it up. These offensive lines are almost like skill players. Going speed all the time isn't going to work. So I have to switch it up and go power."
Here's a quick one-minute breakdown I did of Robinson last year during their week one contest.
While it wouldn't surprise me to see a surprise cut come from this position, I think it's more likely they figure out a way to keep both Gipson and Robinson.
On the bubble
Jalyn Holmes has appeared in 34 games in his five-year career with ten starts, and he has the size (6'5", 283) to kick inside. He was on Chicago's practice squad for a few months last season.
Terrell Lewis is a former third-round pick of the Rams, and during his three years in the league has played in 30 games with seven starts. With a full offseason to convert to defensive end after playing outside linebacker in L.A., he may surprise.
Jalen Harris is the only edge the Bears signed as a UDFA, and he'll have an uphill climb to show enough for a practice squad spot.