Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears guard Eben Britton (62) against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

How Does the Chicago Bears Roster Depth Look?


Concerns have been raised recently regarding the overall depth at certain positions for the Chicago Bears.  Are they warranted?

Areas of strength

Eben Britton and Willie Young highlight strong presence in trenches

Marc Trestman stated from the very beginning that he wants the Chicago Bears under his direction to have control in the trenches.  Based on the outlook for his 2014 team, that vision is coming to pass.  His starting offensive line ranked in the top ten last season and his returning every starter.  Behind them GM Phil Emery has assembled a nice mix of veteran and young players including tackle Eben Britton and center Brian De La Puente, both of whom started for other teams.

On the defensive side the same idea has begun to unfold.  Thanks to some aggressive free agency moves the Bears have Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston starting at defensive end.  Right behind them to help is Willie Young who started every game in 2013 for Detroit.  At defensive tackle the team has Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea starting with 26-year old Nate Collins back, who played well last season prior to tearing his ACL.  Then there are rookie 2nd and 3rd round picks Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton to fill the gaps.

Kyle Fuller and Kelvin Hayden help ease concern at corner

Cornerback was a primary problem for Chicago heading into the off-season.  However, after retaining veterans Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, the team had a much easier time addressing depth concerns.  The primary help will come from 1st round pick Kyle Fuller, an immediate help as the third man but also a future starter.  In addition, veteran Kelvin Hayden was also brought back.  Together with third-year man Isaiah Frey they bring valuable starting experience at nickel corner, giving the Bears five bodies who can play at least reasonably good defense.

Josh Morgan and Eric Weems bring experience at receiver

Doubts have surfaced about the situation for the Chicago Bears wide receiving corps.  Most of that centers around what they have behind superstars Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.  Perhaps most of those worries center on second-year man Marquess Wilson, who is slated for the third spot but has just two catches to his name thus far as a pro.  It is a valid issue, but Phil Emery was quick to alleviate the stress when he signed Josh Morgan in free agency.  The former 49er and Redskin has six years of starting experience.  Together with veteran Eric Weems, there is enough in reserve to survive a serious setback.

Tossups

Ka’Deem Carey and Michael Ford offer talent but no game tape

Matt Forte is the main man at running back.  Behind him?  It’s no so much a lack of talent as a lack of proven chops in the pros that makes the position a question mark.  Scouts liked the varying abilities of second-year man Michael Ford and rookie Ka’Deem Carey coming out of college.  Their problem is simple.  Neither has taken a single regular season handoff in the NFL.  So until they do, their validity as backups is questionable.

Christian Jones and Khaseem Greene have upside but also question marks

Linebacker for the Bears is in a sort of unusual flux at the moment.  They do lack for proven experience.  The problem is figuring out who the starters and reserves will be.  Really the only two players expected to make the roster but not start are second-year man Khaseem Greene and undrafted rookie Christian Jones.  Both are very good athletes with tremendous physical upside.  Yet each has his own question mark.  Greene started some games in 2013 and looked lost much too often on the field.  Jones can do anything he wants physically, but seems to lack ideal instincts, which is bad for a linebacker.

Concerning spots

Martellus Bennett getting little help at tight end

If there is one area on the Chicago Bears otherwise strong offense, it is at tight end.  There is no question starter Martellus Bennett is one of the better players at his position in the league, but behind him is really nothing more than a ragtag group of journeyman and unproven bodies.  Dante Rosario is a special teams helper.  Matthew Mulligan is mostly a blocker and Zach Miller never topped 220 receiving yards in three years for the Jaguars.  Not exactly a group that inspires confidence.

No proven starters means no proven depth at safety

In order to even begin talking about good depth, a team should have good starters.  There is no one without the other.  Therefore since the Bears have not established who their starters will be at either safety position before the 2014 season, it is impossible to discuss whether they will have any credible depth in that area.  In other words the position, as a whole is a concern.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Chicago Bears Eben Britton Josh Morgan Ka'deem Carey Kyle Fuller Martellus Bennett Willie Young

  • marc wilson

    Chicago’s D-line looks much better. But you can’t can’t really call the RB and LB positions toss-ups. At LB you have 2 main guys in their 30′s – Briggs is 33 and Williams is 31, and a 4th year guy in McClellan who looks lost a lot of the time. The middle could be big problem again, since they didn’t help themselves very much at Safety. At RB they simply have no experience, which creates a real problem in pass protection as well as their running game. But their biggest problem isn’t even mentioned – at QB you have a 31 year old guy that has a history of injuries backed up by Jimmy Clausen and Jordan Palmer. This is a formula for disaster. At WR, Wilson, in his 3rd year, has impressive height and speed, but at 185 he’s a flyweight. And I find it curious that it’s taken the Bears so long to put him in the line-up. I’d also discount the help that 29 y.o. Josh Morgan will provide. He doesn’t look much different that Earl Bennett, who the Bears cut. The drop off, should Marshall or Jeffries go down, will be steep, especially with Cutler (career 85 QB rating) throwing to them. And finally, they’ll have a new kick returner and punter in 2014. The Bears won’t be winning games with their defense and special teams anymore. If Trestman can pull this off, he deserves to be the NFL’s coach of the year.

    • Erik Lambert

      Mentioning quarterback doesn’t really matter. History shows that the majority of teams that lose their starting quarterbacks don’t make the playoffs anyway. The bottom line is Cutler needs to stay healthy. As great as McCown played last year, it still wasn’t enough to reach January.

      Wilson is actually up to 207 now.

      Morgan has proven productive in the past when given the chance. If Jeffery or Marshall go down, I believe he can step into the #3 spot just fine while Wilson takes over the #2.

      My tossup point for the linebacker position is it’s a group that is deep in athleticism and physical talent but short on proven experience. Briggs and Williams, as you stated are aging and can’t be trusted to carry the weight alone. Bostic is fast and a fierce hitter but as yet hasn’t shown the instincts. McClellin was overmatched at defensive end but has no tape at linebacker to analyze. All we know is he played the position in college well enough to become a first round pick.

      Running back is a tossup for that same reason. Ka’Deem Carey was a terrific player in 2013 for Arizona, including as a pass protector, contrary to your point. Michael Ford is more of a utility back you can run in a variety of different formations. I doubt the Bears have him for pass protection purposes but he is 216 lbs, which is solid enough to handle blitz pickup.

    • Dale Holmgren

      I disagree with your assessment of Wilson; here’s why. First, Wilson is only 21; this is his second year, not his 3rd year. Of course he’s not going to make much impact as a rookie; neither did Jeffrey, and Earl Bennett was the acknowledged #3; they had to figure out if Earl could contribute, and he didn’t. Finally, Wilson has an impeccable pedigree. At Wash St, he had 23 TD’s in 33 games on a team that went 9-27 during his 3 years. At the start of his last college year, some projected him as the 3rd best WR in the nation, behind only Keenan Allen and Terrance Williams (Baylor). His 3rd year numbers were very good – almost 100 yards a game – and there is no way that he went from a possible 1st round pick to the 26th WR taken just based on talent; it was all the brouhaha with his coach that cost him in the draft. The Bears have a legitimate steal at slot receiver. I’m not even counting on Morgan, we’re not going to need him.

      Does anyone think Jimmy Clausen got a fair shot? Thrown in as starter as a rookie, then they turn around and choose Cam Newton #1 overall? True, Clausen has shown nothing in the pros, but he was thrown into the fire with no preparation. At Notre Dame he threw 60 TD’s in 35 games, his QB rating for the season was #3 in the country. Mel Kiper thought Clausen would go #4 OVERALL in the 2009 draft. I think what we will find is that Clausen is the one that will be backing up Cutler, not Palmer.

  • Dale Holmgren

    I’ll tell you what: did you ever dream at the end of last year that we would be drafting D-Line help in the second and third rounds and NOT expect them to start in their first year? The FA moves Emery made took all the pressure off Ferguson and Sutton, enabling them to learn the pro game while watching, mostly.