Ranking The Bears: The Stars (10-1)

| August 25th, 2020

If the 2020 Chicago Bears are going to return to the playoffs, there’s a good chance that the players on this list are going to be the ones who lead them there. They have three players among the top three at their positions and a handful more who are near the top. Four of the top 10 players earned All Pro honors in 2018 and should be back to that level in 2020. Another one of the players is consistently underrated, despite being pretty much perfect.

The Bears top 10 players just might stack up with anybody else in the league.

10. Tarik Cohen, RB/Specialist

Coming off a horrendously inefficient season, there’s plenty of reason to think Cohen will play more like the 2017 and 2018 versions of himself. What we learned in 2019 is that Cohen can’t be the star of the offense. He a gimmick, someone who needs others to open the field for him. Once it’s open, he’s still dangerous.

9. Danny Trevathan, ILB

Trevathan was having a career year before injuries hit. In nine games he had 50 solo tackles and seemed to be all over the field, every single week. The 30-year-old is the leader of the defense.

8. Roquan Smith, ILB

Smith gets too much grief for his 2019 campaign. Despite inconsistent play early in the season, he finished with 101 tackles (five behind the line of scrimmage) and two sacks in 12 games. Before he was injured late in the season, Smith was playing the position better than anyone else the Bears had last year. If he played 16 games like he played his last eight last year, he’s going to be known as one of the premier defensive players in the league.

7. Kyle Fuller, CB

He has mostly escaped criticism, but 2019 was as rough for Kyle Fuller as it was for anyone else on the defense. Fuller allowed a passer rating of 102 and missed 12 tackles — an astronomical 12.8 percent of his attempts. He still had some ball production with three interceptions and 12 PBUs, but he didn’t play at the level the Bears expect. That said, he’s still a really good player and he can’t take all the blame as a dormant pass rush can make life difficult for any defensive back.

6. Robert Quinn, Edge

Re-emerging on the scene after a handful of so-so years, Quinn could be the key to the Bears defense going to the next level. After collecting 40 sacks in three years, Quinn struggled with injuries with the Rams, but was still productive on a per-game basis. Even in Quinn’s worst year — 2018 — he had more pressures and sacks than Leonard Floyd managed in either of the last two years. Those numbers figure to go up as Quinn plays opposite Khalil Mack. For his career, Quinn has averaged more sacks per game than Julius Peppers.

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Ranking the Bears: The Contributors (39-11)

| August 19th, 2020

There’s almost a certain point where you can see where the talent on the Bears roster breaks.

The bottom of this list is utterly unimpressive; late-round rookies and NFL journeymen. The top ten: a handful of established NFL players, some who have been stars and some who can be stars going forward.

The word potential could be used for so many of these players and what happens in 2020 could depend on how many of them touch their ceilings.

39. Barkevious Mingo, Edge

While he’s certainly a draft bust, Mingo deserves credit for sticking around. While the 2019 season was a wash as he played just 73 snaps for Houston, he was a pretty regular contributor to Seattle’s solid defense in 2018 and started six games for Chuck Pagano’s Colts in 2017. Doesn’t provide much for pass rush, but is a good special teams player and certainly better than the edges the Bears had beyond their starters last year.

38. Darnell Mooney, WR

Given the odd off-season and the team’s signing of an established veteran to do, essentially, the same job, it might be difficult for Mooney to find the field in 2020. But the Bears need speed and speed is among the traits the rookie receiver offers. A four-year player at Tulane, Mooney is also considered a polished route-runner. It’ll just be a matter of getting the details down.

37. Sherrick McManis, ST

McManis is always tough to rank simply because none of the coaches ever seem to trust him on defense, even though he has always seemed to play well. As it is, he’s among the best special teams player in the league.

36. Kevin Toliver II, CB

Expect Toliver to start the season opposite Kyle Fuller, which may not be a good thing. Toliver has certainly had his struggles in coverage/tackling when playing but those spurts have been too few and far between to get much of a feel for if he can actually play.

35. J.P. Holtz, FB

The Bears are going to try to be a more powerful running team in 2020 and Holtz could factor into that. There’s little doubt that the player none of us had ever previously heard of gave the Bears a little bit of a spark last year.

34. Trevis Gipson, Edge

Gipson might have a learning curve, going from a defensive lineman in college to an edge player in the NFL, but he certainly has the skill set. A long and physical player, Gipson will be raw, but the Bears don’t need him to be great just yet.

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Ranking the Bears: The Relevant Non-Starters (57-40)

| August 11th, 2020

When you get to the bottom of the Bears roster, you see a lot of familiar names who, for one reason or another, have never stuck as starters in the league. Many of the players in this grouping have stuck on as specialists but some are late-round draft picks who just haven’t had a chance to prove themselves yet.

57. Tyler Bray, QB

There isn’t a lot to say about Bray at this point. He won’t get any significant reps and is just about a lock for the practice squad. As far as emergency quarterbacks go, though, it could be a lot worse. Bray knows the offense and played well in the fourth preseason game last year. I’m still not convinced he isn’t better than Chase Daniel.

56. Abdullah Anderson, DL

If you’re looking for a candidate to be this year’s Nick Williams, Anderson might be a good bet. The former UDFA has impressed during camp and preseason and could be ready to crack the rotation. Appeared in six games for the Bears and got one sack.

55.DeAndre Houston-Carson, Safety

DHC doesn’t have the speed to ever be an effective safety, but he has been a regular contributor on special teams since his rookie season.

54. Eddy Pineiro, Kicker

The Bears obviously didn’t trust their rookie kicker in 2019 and he didn’t give them much reason to. He started strong and finished strong, but can he regularly make kicks beyond 40 yards? Can they even fathom 50-yarders? He has to prove it.

53. Patrick Scales, Long snapper

He’s a long snapper.

52. Lachavious Simmons, OL

His nickname “Pig” was almost enough to get him higher on the list. A big, raw athletic guard who might be able to play right tackle.

51. Arlington Hambright, OL

Hambright’s athleticism and college experience make him interesting. He fell off the radar more than anybody who played left tackle in college and showed a good athletic profile should. As of now, the Bears aren’t giving Simmons or Hambright a shot to compete at right guard, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if either ended up starting there in the near future.

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Ranking the Bears: Long and Longish Shots (85-60)

| August 4th, 2020

The Bears reported to training camp last week with a large number of guys you probably don’t need to know.

This is my fifth year ranking the entire roster and the bottom of the roster is as much of a guess as it’s ever been. There are a few names on this list that fans know, but none who can be relied upon in 2020. What you can tell by looking at the list is that GM Ryan Pace values physical talent at the bottom of the roster. It’s unlikely that any of these players will make an impact in the NFL, but they’re in Chicago for a reason.

85. LaCale London, DL

A local product from Peoria and Western Illinois. Has great size (6’5”, 280), but wasn’t really exceptional, even as the small college level.

84. Reggie Davis, WR

The former Georgia product clocked a 4.31 40-yard dash time ahead of the 2017 NFL draft, but has never produced on the field. He caught just three passes in preseason last year and never had more than 12 in college. He did have a punt return for a touchdown at Georgia, but had otherwise pedestrian numbers as a return man.

83. Dieter Eiselen, OL

A 2019 first-team All-Ivy Leaguer from South Africa. Probably a long shot, but certainly sounds like a good story.

82. Darion Clark, TE

Yet another tight end. Clark is a 26-year-old former college basketball player from USC. He’s 6’7” and 220 pounds, but seems like a long shot to make the roster.

81. Dino Boyd, OL

A UDFA in 2019, Boyd spent time on the Chiefs, Bengals and Bears practice squads last season. He’s short (6’3”), but had nearly 35-inch arms.

80. Trevon McSwain, DL

Great size (6’6”, 285), but little production at Duke. Finished his career with 7.5 sacks and 12 QB pressures. Did have five forced fumbles.

79. Ramix Ahmed, K

The Bears latest attempt to find a kicker from nowhere led them to the 25-year-old who played at Nevada. He has a shot to beat out Piniero, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s good.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Top of the Heap (1-10)

| August 6th, 2019

As I got down to the top of this list, the one thing that really stood out to me was the quality here. The Bears have three players who are without question among the top two or three at their positions. In the three years I’ve done this list, I don’t know that they’ve ever even had one.

The Bears also have four all pros on this list and two other players who are 25 or younger and could easily be all pros this year.

10. Kyle Long, OG

He’s not young anymore but Long is still a mauler when he’s on the field. The Bears have only been able to get about half of their snaps with Long in recent seasons, but they’ve been significantly better when he has played.

9. Danny Trevathan, LB

One of the most underrated players on the Bears. Trevathan sets the tone with his leadership, while also flying around the field. Covers a lot of ground in the passing game and against the run.

8. Allen Robinson

According to the early camp reports, we didn’t see the real A-Rob last year. After an early season ankle injury, Robinson caught 40 passes for 612 yards in his final eight games. Expect to see more this year.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Key Contributors (11-39)

| August 5th, 2019

This is the meat of the rosters, players who should see the field quite a bit.

39. Nick Kwiatkoski, LB

Can really be a liability against the pass, but he has good instincts and is a solid special teams player. The Bears could live with him playing on first and second downs if needed.

38.  Jonathan Bullard, DL

Has never even approached his potential, but hasn’t been awful either. Holds his own and you occasionally see his burst but not consistent enough to play on a deep defensive line.

37. Chase Daniel, QB

Great for the locker room and he showed last year the Bears can win with him. He’s not capable of being a starter, but the Bears have had a lot of starting quarterbacks who were worse than Daniel.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Never a truer, sadder statement.]

36. Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB

Played some special teams last year, but the hope is he can beat out Kwik this year. Didn’t have to play with much discipline in college so the NFL was a big jump. Now it’s time to see if he can play.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: The Relevant Non-Starters (40-59)

| July 30th, 2019

The rankings continue. To read part one of this three-part exercise, CLICK HERE.

Some of these guys will be battling for the final few roster spots, but none — outside specialists — are competing for starting spots.

59. Tyler Bray

There really isn’t a lot to say about Bray. He knows the offense and is good for the QB room. He’s just not good on the field. He’ll get some playing time during preseason, but won’t make the roster.

58. Tanner Gentry, WR

The preseason hero of 2017 has made it on the team the last two years, but this is likely his last stand. Gentry has potential and should get another shot elsewhere should he fail to make the squad.

57. Dax Raymond, TE

The UDFA tight end who everybody seems to like. A good athlete who looks like a natural receiver. He just could make the final cut as the fourth tight end.

56. Cornelius Lucas, OT

Huge dude (6’9″, 328), who has played some in the league. Not an ideal third tackle, but he can play in a pinch.

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Ranking The Bears: The Long Shots (90-60)

| July 23rd, 2019

With training camp getting underway this week, it’s time to get to know the entire roster.

Because I didn’t want you to have to go through the entire roster, I went ahead and did it for you. For the third straight year, I’ve ranked everyone – from the guys who are never going to make it to players who are among the very best in the entire league. What made this year more challenging is the pure depth the Bears have on their roster.

While this list is made up of guys who very likely will never have an impact in the league, there are several who I could easily see surprising.. That just wasn’t the case in years past. The Bears are good and that shows even at the very bottom of the roster.

90. Elliott Fry, K

If he can go 14-for-14 in the minor leagues, surely he can make kicks in the NFL, right? God I hope so.

89. Eddy Pineiro, K

I’ve been told he has a huge leg. Would’ve won the Raiders job if not for an injury, so that has to be worth something, right?

(Note: If the two kickers continue missing as much as they did throughout the spring, this is a very accurate ranking for them. What good is a kicker who can’t make kicks in practice. Good thing they have time to get better.)

88. Josh Wirtel, longsnapper

I have no idea if he’s in camp for the hell of it or if he’s actually going to compete with Pat Scales. I also had no idea he existed until three minutes ago.

87. Blake Blackmar, OL

One of the biggest dudes on the team at 326 pounds. Didn’t test well in the pre-draft process, which likely makes him a longshot on a team that requires athletic offensive linemen. Maybe there’s something they saw on tape?

86. Jordan McCray, OL

Veteran offensive lineman who has never appeared in a game. We see these guys every year and every year they don’t last.

85. James Vaughters, LB

Veteran who bounced around with the Packers, Patriots and Chargers, with stops in the CFL. Likely just a camp body.

84. Jameer Thurman, LB

After entering the NFL as a 194-pound linebacker, Thurman bulked up to 230. Was a standout in the CFL, but he’s unlikely to do anything in the NFL.

83. Daryl Banfield, DL

Tested out as a decent athlete at the FBS combine, running a 5.15 40-yard dash with a  33-inch vertical and a 115-inch broad jump. But he had hardly any production at Brown, finishing last season with 25 tackles — 12 of which were solo — and zero sacks. Had just 3.5 sacks in his collegiate career.

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Ranking the Entire Bears Roster: Bottom of the Fifty-Three (40-59)

| July 19th, 2018

Most of the guys battling at the bottom of the roster either played for the Bears or another team in recent seasons. They have talent and have stuck in the league for a reason. Outside of the specialists, however, none are ideal starters.

59. Jonathan Anderson, LB

It’s kind of weird that the team lists Anderson as an outside linebacker. Was a college safety who has played inside up to this point in his career. Solid special teamer.

58. Marlon Brown, WR

The Bears love their Georgia guys. Brown is 6’4” — listed at 6’5” for some reason — but hasn’t been able to find a job in the NFL. He caught 49 passes as a rookie with the Ravens in 2013, but hasn’t caught a pass since 2015.

57. Cre’von LeBlanc, CB

LeBlanc can do some good things, but his shortcomings have hurt the Bears too many times the last two years.

56. John Timu, ILB

Ten years ago, Timu would’ve been a stud. He has great size and instincts, but his lack of speed and athleticism has killed him in pass defense.

55. Kasim Edebali, ILB

28-year-old who spent most of his career with the Saints. Had five sacks in 2015, but hasn’t done much since. Played for the Broncos and Lions last year, appearing in 13 games with one tackle.

54. Hroniss Grasu, C

Might be Ryan Pace’s worst draft pick. No single player more negatively affected the Bears run offense last year.

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Ranking the Bears: The Best They Have to Offer

| July 27th, 2017

Every list has to have an end. For the Bears, this is a pretty good ending because the top of their roster is actually pretty good.

Last year I ranked Jay Cutler as the best player on the team largely because there weren’t many options. Who was their franchise player? A guard who just struggled at tackle? A wide receiver who couldn’t stay on the field? A pass rusher who began the year on the PUP list? No. No. And No. They didn’t have a player to build around. They didn’t have anyone who ranked among the truly elite at their position.

That isn’t the case anymore. I finished the list by ranking the top 10 players on the team and I think it can be argued that the top four are among the very best at what they do.

10. Cam Meredith, WR. There may not have been a more underrated player on the team last year. A superb athlete who keeps improving. Statistics may not be as great next year because the team likely won’t throw as often, but he’s shown the ability to consistently get open and make plays with the ball in his hands. Also threw a touchdown pass. So there’s that.

(Jeff’s Note: Watching Cam Meredith develop in 2017 is one of the things I’m most excited about. I think the kid has star potential.)

9. Eddie Goldman, DL. Missed most of last season because of injuries, but still had 2.5 sacks and 12 tackles in just 198 snaps. Not bad for a guy who many thought was just a lane clogger. Powerful and athletic, Goldman allows the Bears to play small with just two down linemen. Really could be a cornerstone of their defense going forward.

8. Cody Whitehair, C. A key to the team’s future as the anchor of their line. He isn’t the top-ranked offensive lineman but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being their best this year. Struggled with consistency early last year, especially with his run blocking, but improved as the season went along and was downright dominant at times. Leader.

(Jeff’s Note: When Andrew makes this list next year, I’ll be surprised if Cody Whitehair isn’t 1 or 2. I think he’s that talented and that important.)

7. Leonard Floyd, Edge. Two concussions in one year are certainly concerning, but there were times when Floyd was just ruining game plans. Watch what he did against the Packers. Or the Lions. They just couldn’t keep up with him. He did it using mostly athleticism, if he can learn a few more moves he could be unstoppable.

6. Pernell McPhee, Edge. Despite playing just 25 percent of the team’s snaps last year, McPhee was fourth on the team with four sacks and first with eight other QB hits. Given his knee issues, I’m not sure he’s ever going to be the every down dominant force we saw early in his first year with the team, but he might be even more dangerous in spot duty. I’d like to see the team use him the way Baltimore did. Regardless, once he got right last year, he got after quarterbacks.

(Jeff’s Note: Pernell McPhee is, in my mind, no longer expected to produce at a high level for this organization. Starting camp on PUP has solidified that for me.)

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