This column does not seek to project the impact these players will have long-term.
This column seems to project the impact these players will have this coming season, assuming the summer’s off-season program will be truncated or non-existent.
(7) Arlington Hambright, G
An athletic freak but a true offensive line project. The work/coaching he’d require to get on the field in 2020 simply won’t be available this summer. If he plays a snap during the regular season, something has gone terribly wrong.
But the Bears should put him on the roster. And they should sell the jerseys on the homepage of their website.
(6) Lachavious Simmons, G
Simmons gets the nod over Hambright for two reasons: (1) he’s got a bit of mauler in him and (2) his transition to guard at the next level will be easier. Again, it’s unlikely Simmons plays a down this season. But it’s more likely for him than Hambright.
(5) Trevis Gipson, Edge
The raw talent is there but Gipson’s 2020 role will almost assuredly be limited to sub-down, pass rushing situations. And with Mack and Quinn WELL ahead of him in the pecking order, the Bears would be happy if Gipson saw limited defensive snaps this season, while making his presence felt on special teams.
(4) Kindle Vildor, CB
Buster Skrine is still the starting slot corner. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vildor backing up that role very early on in his career. My guess is Vildor surprises many and is active on most game days.
(3) Cole Kmet, TE
There’s been a lot of talk about tight ends struggling to assimilate to the NFL. And big, physical players like Kmet are asked to do a lot more than stand up, run fast and catch passes.
Jason Witten had 35 catches his rookie season. Kyle Rudolph had 26. Kmet, especially at his position, could use a full summer slate of practices and preseason games. If he doesn’t get it, hard to think he’ll be be more than a 30-35 catch, 400 yard, 4-5 touchdown player in his rookie campaign.
But I think that’d be a brilliant sign for his future.
(2) Darnell Mooney, WR
Will Mooney have a greater impact than Kmet? Debatable. But he’s going to have a far more limited/specific role. And I think he’ll thrive in that role.
I expect the Bears to build a simple package of plays for Mooney. End arounds. Go routes. Quick outs. Opportunities for him to utilize his speed and elusiveness with the football in his hands. Don’t think Tyreek Hill. Think Tavon Austin.
They know he has to get bigger. They know it’ll take time for him to learn and develop a full route tree. But there’s no reason, in this offense, he can’t be a productive player during that developmental process.
(1) Jaylon Johnson, CB
Starter. Day one.