With the majority of the offseason in the books and training camp approaching in the coming months, I want to look at 5 Bears roster battles that are worth paying attention to.
Running back: D’onta Foreman/Roschon Johnson/Khalil Herbert
A position that has seen a high amount of turnover this offseason for Chicago is the running back group. The departure of David Montgomery to the Detroit Lions is obviously a tough blow, but the Bears did a fine job replacing him via free agency with the addition of former Panther D’onta Foreman. Lets take a look at how Montgomery and Foreman performed last year.
Montgomery: 201 attempts, 801 yards, 5 TDs 4.0 YPC
Foreman: 203 attempts, 914 yards, 5 TDs, 4.5 YPC
The argument can very easily be made that the Bears upgraded at the position while saving money, having also added Texas RB Roschon Johnson in the 4th round of the draft. While Johnson wasn’t the best Texas RB in the draft, he should have been drafted higher than he was. Had he not been backing up Bijan Robinson, Johnson would’ve gone in the 2nd round based off of talent. Getting him in the 4th round is good business.
Khalil Herbert is also back in the fold for his 3rd season. Last year, Herbert was one of the most efficent runners in all of football. Herbert is a speed back, Johnson is a power back, and Foreman offers a little bit of both. I have a hunch that says the guy who starts the season as the number 1 running back might not be there by the end of the season. (Buy Roschon Johnson stock)
Cornerback: Tyrique Stevenson/Terrell Smith/Kindle Vildor
One of the biggest draft surprises from the Bears was how highly they coveted a starting outside cornerback. Spending 2 picks in the first 5 rounds on the same position rarely happens at a position you feel relatively comfortable with. Tyrique Stevenson is the big name, as he was a consensus round 2 player in the draft process. As round 3 came closer, Ryan Poles saw him still on the board and made the move up to go get him. Poles doesn’t like trading up, so that shows how much Stevenson is valued.
Do not sleep on Terrell Smith. The 5th rounder out of Minnesota could be this years Braxton Jones. A late round pick who turnt out to play a bigger role than expected.
You also have Kindle Vildor, who had a career year under Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams. While Smith and Vildor aren’t bad players, you have to bet on the upside of Tyrique Stevenson, which is why I think he wins the starting Cornerback job opposite Jaylon Johnson, and with Kyler Gordon being a full time slot cornerback.
Defensive Tackle: Gervon Dexter/Zacch Pickens/Travis Bell/Andrew Billings
The Bears Defensive Line was awful last year, and that’s being polite. Justin Jones was decent for the Bears and will start again, but you hope someone listed here becomes a better player than him. Gervon Dexter was a guy I was somewhat shocked the Bears picked in round 2, but I absolutely see their vision. Dexter doesn’t have a ton of distinct weaknesses. However, Dexter has to improve his reaction time to the snap. It’s his weakest point. He’s pretty refined technically, so coaching and reps will be big for him. Zacch Pickens is a pass rush specialist on the interior. As good as he is as a pass rusher, he’s as bad as a run defender. He doesn’t have the raw strength to hold up in the run game. Travis Bell is a 7th round pick from Kennesaw State, as well as the first player ever drafted out of Kennesaw State. Bell is best as a penetrating run stuffer, but lacks pass rush ability. The same can be said for free agent signing Andrew Billings. Billings eats space in the run game, but doesn’t have the finesse or athleticism to be an every down player. The only guy who can handle both the run and pass game is Gervon Dexter, and he also has the highest potential. He has to start right away in my eyes.
Roschon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, and Gervon Dexter all are supremely important to the Bears future. The Bears 2023 success relies heavily on them producing.