Bears

A look at the Bears depth chart following draft weekend

Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery finds a hole in the New York Giants defensive line during their game Sunday, Jan. 2, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Bears and general manager Ryan Poles added 11 players to their roster in last weekend’s NFL draft, plus they signed more than a dozen undrafted free agents.

The newcomers will begin rookie minicamp Friday and veterans will return for organized team activities beginning May 16. It’s a long way until the season begins in September, but the 2022 Bears roster is finally taking shape.

Below is an estimated Bears depth chart following the draft. The Bears still have time to make changes. There remain some well-known free agents available, and more veterans will hit the street between now and September.

Based on what is known at this point in time, here’s what the 2022 Bears look like. Any undrafted rookies mentioned below still haven’t officially signed, but are expected to.

Quarterback

Starter: Justin Fields

Backups: Trevor Siemian, Ryan Willis

Where things stand: There’s not much to debate here. A year without QB drama? That’s music to a Bears fans’ ears.

Running back

Starter: David Montgomery, Khari Blasingame (fullback)

Backups: Khalil Herbert, Darrynton Evans, Trestan Ebner

Where things stand: Montgomery is sure to be the featured back again. Herbert should be heavily involved as well. Ebner adds an experienced pass catcher. Poles should feel good with the depth here.

Wide Receiver

Starters: Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Velus Jones Jr.

Backups/in the rotation: Equanimeous St. Brown, Dazz Newsome

Depth: Isaiah Coulter, David Moore, Nsimba Webster

Where things stand: Mooney is the clear top dog at this position and the Bears hope Pringle can be the No. 2. St. Brown needs to show more than he did last season in Green Bay. There’s a lot to like about his 6-foot-5 frame, though.

How the rookie Jones is deployed in this offense will be intriguing to watch. He could wind up being that No. 3 option, but St. Brown should be in the mix too. The Bears envision Jones as something of a Swiss Army knife. This will be a big year for Newsome, a 2021 sixth-round draft pick, who spent much of last year on the practice squad.

Tight end

Starter: Cole Kmet

Backups: Ryan Griffin, James O’Shaughnessy, Jesper Horsted

Where things stand: Kmet will see the majority of the snaps, provided he remains healthy. Griffin and O’Shaughnessy are probably interchangeable. Keep an eye out for undrafted rookie Chase Allen out of Iowa State. He could challenge for a roster spot. He was second-team All-Big 12 in four of his five college seasons.

Offensive line

Starters: Larry Borom (LT), Cody Whitehair (LG), Lucas Patrick (C), Dakota Dozier (RG), Teven Jenkins (RT)

Backups: Julien Davenport (LT), Willie Wright (LG), Sam Mustipher (C/RG) Lachavious Simmons (RT)

Depth: Tyrone Wheatley (OT), Zachary Thomas (OT/OG), Doug Kramer (C), Ja’Tyre Carter (OG), Braxton Jones (OT), Dieter Eiselen (C)

Where things stand: Everything is subject to change here. This is heavily based on what the Bears’ offensive line looked like at voluntary minicamp before the draft. Dozier and Mustipher split time at right guard. Mustipher is probably the first guy off the bench at both center and right guard.

The bigger question is how do the rookies fit in? The Bears want to get lighter and quicker on the O-line. Given that, Jones could potentially supplant Simmons as a backup tackle. Thomas can play guard or tackle, but probably has a better chance of moving up the depth chart at guard. Kramer and Carter have some work cut out for them and might be destined for the practice squad.

Defensive line

Starter: Robert Quinn (DE), Khyiris Tonga (DT), Justin Jones (DT), Al-Quadin Muhammad (DE)

Backup: Trevis Gipson (DE), Angelo Blackson (DT), Mario Edwards Jr. (DT/DE), Jeremiah Attaochu (DE)

Depth: Dominique Robinson (DE), Sam Kamara (DE), LaCale London (DT), Auzoyah Alufohai (DT), Charles Snowden (DE), Ledarius Mack (DE)

Where things stand: There’s a lot of names here and not enough snaps to go around. Look for Gipson to see significant snaps as a pass rusher. Blackson and Edwards should be contributors. After that, it’s a little bit harder to say. Robinson is an intriguing prospect, but he might need a year to develop. It’s unclear how Attaochu fits Matt Eberflus’ system.

Linebacker

Starters: Roquan Smith, Nicholas Morrow, Matt Adams

Backups: Caleb Johnson, Noah Dawkins, Joe Thomas

Where things stand: That third starting spot is probably up for grabs. Adams gets the nod here because of his experience in Eberflus’ system in Indianapolis. Johnson saw a lot of action on special teams last year and could challenge Adams for a spot on defense.

Undrafted free agent Jack Sanborn from Wisconsin (via Lake Zurich) is worth keeping an eye on. He was one of the top-rated players to go undrafted.

Cornerback

Starters: Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tavon Young (nickel)

Backups: Thomas Graham Jr., Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley (nickel)

Depth: BoPete Keyes, Lamar Jackson, Greg Stroman Jr., Michael Joseph

Where things stand: If Gordon lives up to his second-round draft hype, he should be a starter opposite Johnson. Those two should be a great, young one-two punch at cornerback.

Young is a nickel specialist who typically will line up across from the receiver in the slot. Graham and Vildor are likely relegated to backup spots, but they are solid as far as backups go. The addition of Gordon made the Bears better here.

Safety

Starters: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker

Backups: DeAndre Houston-Carson, Dane Cruikshank

Depth: Elijah Hicks, Michael Joseph

Where things stand: The hope is Brisker can lock down that starting strong safety spot. He and Cruikshank figure to battle for that position during training camp. Houston-Carson is a solid backup and a great special teams piece, but drafting a ballhawk like Brisker likely improved this defense.

Special teams

Kicker: Cairo Santos

Punter: Ryan Winslow or Trenton Gill

Long snapper: Patrick Scales

Kick return: Khalil Herbert or Velus Jones Jr. or Trestan Ebner

Punt return: Nsimba Webster or Dazz Newsome or Trestan Ebner

Where things stand: The Bears drafted Gill with a seventh-round pick. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t believe he could be their starting punter. Winslow signed when longtime punter Pat O’Donnell left, but he has punted in only six NFL games. Get ready for a punter competition in camp.

The additions of Jones and Ebner give the Bears three good options on kick return. With Herbert taking over backup running back duties, the Bears might not want him on kick return regularly.

Newsome returned only six punts last season, but he and Ebner did it often in college. Undrafted wide receiver Savon Scarver from Utah State is a return specialist who could threaten for a spot, but won’t contribute much to the offense.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.