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Chicago Bears July Scouting Report
The Bears kick off training camp today at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, IL. Letâ€™s have a look at position battles and a projected depth chart:
Much is expected of QB Justin Fields going into his sophomore year. He certainly put in the work in the offseason, working on his mechanics and training with some of his receivers in Atlanta. Now itâ€™s time to see just how well he knows new OC Luke Getsyâ€™s offense, which is expected to get Fields on the move a lot more and create opportunities for deep shots off play action. QB Trevor Siemian will be the backup, with QB Nathan Peterman as the third-stringer.
RB David Montgomery is still the starter here, though backup RB Khalil Herbert could still see a decent number of touches as well given how much the Bears are expected to run this season. Itâ€™ll be interesting to see how the Bearsâ€™ backs adjust to the new outside-zone/wide-zone scheme that Getsy is expected to implement. Another thing to watch for is how much work Montgomery/Herbert get as a receiver out of the backfield. Rookie RB Trestan Ebner and third-year man RB Darrynton Evans will compete to be the third back. It remains to be seen how much of a role FB Khari Blasingame will have.
After an offseason of getting dissed by media and fans alike, this group of receivers will finally get a chance to show what itâ€™s capable of. Itâ€™s easy to ask why new GM Ryan Poles didnâ€™t get Fields more help in the offseason, but there werenâ€™t exactly a bunch of free agent receivers that youâ€™d want to give a big-money, long-term contract to. He couldâ€™ve drafted a receiver higher than he did, but the secondary badly needed help, too. Poles couldâ€™ve traded a bunch of picks for D.K. Metcalf, but then heâ€™d have to give him a massive contract, and itâ€™s nice to have a first-round pick to use once in a while. Signing a vet to a one-year deal could help Fields for this season, but it could also take playing time away from young receivers like rookie WR Velus Jones Jr. So, while WR Darnell Mooney might be a #2 or #3 receiver on a good team, heâ€™ll get a chance to show if he can be a #1 receiver for the Bears (for one year at least).
As the most accomplished receiver on the roster and the one who has the best chemistry with Fields, Mooney is going to get a lot of volume. After that, things get a bit murky. Is WR Equanimeous St. Brown (yes, I have to Google how to spell his first name every time I write one of these reports) capable of being the #2 receiver? Heâ€™s got size and speed but didnâ€™t seem to get much of a shot in Cheeseland. Will WR Byron Pringle be the #2 or the slot guy? How much will Jones Jr be able to contribute as a rookie? The guy can fly and should be an exciting player to watch, but how many snaps heâ€™ll get is anyoneâ€™s guess. Iâ€™ve got a good feeling about him, but that could just be my blue and orange Kool-Aid talking.
On July 13th, the Bears traded a 2024 seventh-rounder to the Patriots for WR Nâ€™Keal Harry. For whatever reason (a general inability to create separation seems to be the main one), things didnâ€™t work out for the former first-round pick in New England. It would probably be foolhardy to expect big things from Harry, but for hardly any cost, the Bears get a chance to see if a change of scenery and scheme could help him. At 6-4 225, maybe he can be a big, physical possession receiver to complement Mooney and help move the sticks on third down as well as a red zone target.
There will be a bunch of other receivers in camp, but the ones who have the most realistic shots at making the team are second-year man WR Dazz Newsome, WR David Moore, and maybe WR Chris Finke. Newsome broke his collarbone before training camp last season and didnâ€™t make his debut until late in the season. Heâ€™s got good quickness and return ability, but so do Jones Jr and Ebner. Moore had some success with the Seahawks a few years ago, catching 13 TDs in a three-year span from 2018 to 2020. Finke generated some buzz after making some plays during minicamp/OTAs. At 5-9 186, heâ€™d strictly be a slot candidate.
With Jimmy Graham no longer in the picture and so many question marks at wideout, TE Cole Kmet could be in line for a breakout season. The Shanahan-style offense Getsy has brought to Chicago helped George Kittle become an elite tight end in San Francisco. Kmet should have increased volume, but he needs to get better in the red zone (especially on contested catches) after not catching a single TD last season.
Here we have another position group with more questions than answers. Will T Larry Borom or rookie T Braxton Jones start at left tackle was a big question until this morning when Adam Schefter reported that the Bears signed veteran T Riley Reiff to a one-year deal worth up to $12.5 million (wow), so he looks like the answer on the left side. Who will start at right tackle, Borom or T Teven Jenkins? Who will start at right guard, OL Sam Mustipher, Jenkins, or newly signed OL Michael Schofield, whose wife Kendall Coyne Schofield is a USA hockey superstar and works for the Chicago Blackhawks? Why did the Bears unveil such garishly orange helmets to go with their orange alternate jerseys? Never mind that last question.
For this group, who doesnâ€™t participate in camp might become a bigger story than who does. According to NFL Networkâ€™s Ian Rapoport, star LB Roquan Smith is going to hold out as he seeks a contract extension going into the final year of his rookie deal, though he did report to camp today. DE Robert Quinn has reported to camp today as well after skipping mandatory minicamp last month, though no one knows if heâ€™ll actually participate. If Quinn never plays another snap for the Bears, there would be a lot of pressure on players like DE Trevis Gipson and DE Al-Quadin Muhammad to pick up the slack. Rookie S Jaquan Brisker was surprisingly holding out as well, but he reportedly is finalizing a four-year deal and will report to camp today according to the Chicago Tribune. The secondary should be improved with rookie CB Kyler Gordon and Brisker, but it could be a struggle for this team to rush the passer this season.
PK Cairo Santos will be the kicker. Rookie P Trenton Gill is the only punter on the roster at the moment.
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