After beating the Kansas City Chiefs 19-14, and smoking the Seattle Seahawks 27-11, Bears fans are seeing a lot of action from the rookies on the roster. There have been a handful of rookies turning heads since the pre-season began. Not only that but the entire atmosphere in Soldier field has found new momentum. The playcalling has improved, the offense looks more fluent, and the players look more engaged. New general manager Ryan Poles assessed multiple weaknesses in the draft, drafting new offensive threats and linemen moving the trenches. These Bears rookies drafted back in April are now getting their first crack at the NFL, and fans are watching. Today I’ll be grading the Bears rookies who have stood out during this pre-season, and making predictions on what their role will be this season.
Kyler Gordon, Cornerback: B
After missing week one of the pre-season, Kyler Gordon made his NFL debut against his hometown Seattle Seahawks. Gordon played corner at the University of Washington where he didn’t allow a touchdown in any of 18 starts. Gordon was the Bears’ first draft pick at 39 overall. Gordon battled a day-to-day injury last week, but got back on track, getting first-team reps against Seattle. Whether Gordon will play nickel this season or not is still to be answered. Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said they like Gordon playing inside, but they’ll look into him playing outside as well. Gordon said he felt comfortable and excited during the game, displaying the confidence he has in himself. Gordon didn’t have a very eventful night but still showed that he is deserving to be a potential starter this season.
Jaquan Brisker, Safety: A-
Brisker had an impressive showing last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, forcing a three and out by himself. The Bears got a steal in Brisker, drafting him 48 overall. Brisker played football at Penn State, facing elite Big Ten quarterbacks and receivers. Brisker didn’t commit a single penalty during his last two seasons with Penn State, and combining that with his freakish athleticism and ball hawk playstyle makes him a great football player. The Bears’ coaching staff seems to be high on Brisker, which is why he might not play again in pre-season. Brisker looks like a future pro-bowl safety; Bears fans should be excited to watch him this season.
Velus Jones Jr., Receiver: B+
Standing at six feet tall and weighing 205 pounds, Velus Jones Jr. is a big-body speed demon. With Jones’ size and 4.3 40-yard dash time, you’d expect to see him off the boards early. The caveat to Jones Jr. is his age. Velus Jones Jr. is 25 years old as a rookie, which is older than Darnell Mooney. Jones didn’t let the criticism of his age get to him against Seattle. Jones showcased his playmaking ability, returning two punts-one for 31 yards and the other for 48-that led to Bears scoring drives. Although Jones Jr. only caught one pass for four yards; Jones looks like a good replacement for Jakeem Grant Sr. after he walked in free agency. I expect to see a little more playing time from Jones next week against Cleveland.
Braxton Jones, OL: B+
Braxton Jones was expected among Bears fans to be a depth player. However, Jones has shown extreme promise, working his way up to the first team. Jones, drafted at pick 168, could be a huge diamond in the rough for the Bears. Robert Quinn, the Chicago Bears’ regular season sack record holder, said that one-on-ones with Jones was a good learning experience for the rookie. Longtime Bears offensive lineman Cody Whitehair also gave Jones praise. We shall see how well the Bears can develop Braxton Jones. As of now, Jones looks really good for a fifth round pick, his presence in the trenches has been noticeable in pre-season.
Tresten Ebner, RB: B
Ebner has been a very fun player to watch this pre-season. Ebner is currently sharing snaps with Khalil Herbert, as David Montgomery waits for the regular season. Ebner has been productive for every pre-season game so far. Ebner scored a 12-yard receiving touchdown and was the leading rusher with 31 yards against Kansas City. In Seattle, Ebner had 29 yards, but also suffered an ankle injury. Ebner’s status for week three is currently questionable. When Ebner returns healthy, he’ll make a good weapon for Justin Fields as a RB2 or RB3. Ebner was also seen returning kicks this pre-season, which I suspect we’ll see more of in the regular season.
These rookies have stood out the most so far. But make no mistake, other Bears rookies such as: Trenton Gill, Dominique Robinson, and Zachary Thomas have shown upside as well. With the Bears last week of pre-season against the Browns next Saturday, August 27. These rookies have one more week to show Ryan Poles and company why they deserve a spot on the roster. Do you agree with grades? Write your thoughts in the comments below what you think about the Bears rookies heading into 2022.