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Predicting the Bears’ 53-Man Roster (& Launching A New Podcast)

| August 24th, 2023

As we head into the final Chicago Bears’ preseason weekend, it’s about time we start talking through which Bears will survive next Tuesday’s cut-down.

Below I attempted to predict the Bears’ 53-man roster (before any waiver claims) — I surprised myself with some of the decisions I made, but take a look at the list first before reading the justifications of my heinous decisions. My notes are at the bottom.

Offense:

QB: Justin Fields, PJ Walker, Tyson Bagent
FB: Khari Blasingame
RB: Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer
TE: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis
OL: Braxton Jones, Tevin Jenkins, Cody Whitehair, Nate Davis, Darnell Wright, Lucas Patrick, Ja’Tyre Carter, Larry Borom, Alex Leatherwood
WR: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Tyler Scott, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr

Defense:

EDGE: Demarcus Walker, Yannick Ngakoue, Dominique Robinson, Terrell Lewis, Trevis Gipson
DT: Justin Jones, Andrew Billings, Gervon Dexter Sr, Zacch Pickens
LB: Tremaine Edmunds, TJ Edwards, Jack Sanborn, Noah Sewell, Micah Baskerville, Dylan Cole
CB: Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Terell Smith, Jaylon Jones
NCB: Kyler Gordon, Josh Blackwell
SAF: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, Elijah Hicks, A.J. Thomas

Special Teams:

PT: Trenton Gill
PK: Cairo Santos
LS: Patrick Scales
KR: Tyler Velus
PR: Honestly? I have no idea yet

Wrapping up:

As you can see, I wanted to include an extra QB (Tyson Bagent) and carry 9 Offensive Linemen, but doing so meant I needed to find an offensive player that doesn’t play Special Teams and whose role could be filled by someone else on the roster. I figured Matt Eberflus wouldn’t let me roster 26 offensive players & 23 defensive players, so I couldn’t cut one of the ST linebackers — it had to be an offensive player.

Then I realized the Bears actually had one such offensive player on the roster — but they wouldn’t actually cut D’Onta Foreman, right?

Depending on their view of Roschon Johnson’s rookie progress, I realized they just might. The Bears only rostered 3 RBs last year & Ebner has done nothing to suggest he won’t reach the Practice Squad safely, so the Bears could theoretically start the season with 3 RBs and call Ebner up if an RB gets hurt mid-season.

It’s a radical decision at first glance, but the prospect of developing a Purdy-like backup QB is too tantalizing for me to side with a 27-year-old RB on a 1-year deal. This cut surprised me too, but I think it makes sense.

Other notes from this exercise:

  • Maybe Rasheem Green has looked good in practice, but in both preseason games he’s struggled both defending the run and rushing the passer. I don’t know how you cut either Lewis or Gipson right now, so I cut Green (another 1-year deal) instead.
  • Teams historically get most of their ST players from the defense, so you need a lot of DBs and ILBs — players like Jaylon Jones, Micah Baskerville, Dylan Cole, and AJ Thomas should be core Special Teamers moreso than positional understudies, though I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Baskerville in limited action. That UDFA contract has ‘affordable Special Teamer’ written all over it.
  • I don’t think Dante Pettis, Daurice Fountain, or any other WR in camp plays enough Special Teams to unseat Velus Jones Jr from the 6th WR spot on the roster. Velus should never see Punt Return duty again, but he’s a core part of the Kick Coverage and Punt Coverage units — that has value! Add what his speed on offense can do to a defense, and I think he makes the roster without issue.

Podcast:

If you’re looking for more detailed discussion about this very topic, you’re in luck — Bear With Me (my podcast from Windy City Gridiron) is back, and now it has a co-host!

I’m partnering with Nick Whalen this season to bring you the best Bears podcast possible. Nick is many things — he’s an experienced football coach, a lifelong Bears fan, and a spirited football thinker that’s conversational enough to make every show we record a fun one, even when we disagree.

In this episode, we talked through our 53-man roster predictions and the reasoning behind each player on the list I posted above — check it out and let me know what you think!

Editor’s Note: Somehow I managed to record this with the wrong microphone, but the content is still strong — Bear With Us (pun intended) for this one, and the audio will sound that much better moving forward

Your Turn: Where do you think this roster went right? Where do you think it went wrong?

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