So in case you haven’t heard, the Bears are rebuilding.
I’m sorry, I know that wasn’t funny but I just couldn’t resist. Please forgive me.
There is an important reason I keep harping on it, though.
Although it isn’t a requirement 100% of the time, in about 98% of these construction projects you have to be willing to get worse before you get better.
Now, contrary to what you may think, it’s a plan I applaud because pretty much everything else the organization has tried since the end of the ‘80s hasn’t worked, and this is about the only thing the McCaskey Bears haven’t tried: a deep cleanse in every corner of Halas Hall.
There are three big issues, though: No. 1, the majority of rebuilds aren’t successful. No. 2, almost none are completed quickly – read less than three seasons. No. 3, you have to be prepared to view and find your satisfaction in different places during construction.
Ultimately the most critical component is always getting better talent.
So the focus of the 2022 season should be how many of the current Bears can succeed and grow enough to be significant contributors when the team is ready to contend.
My main focus this season will be how many of these players can you eventually compete with.
With the hopes and emphasis obviously on guys such as Justin Fields, David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Roquan Smith, Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, Eddie Jackson, etc., I start today with who might be the most pleasant surprises. No rookies are included, as we haven’t even seen them yet in pads.
Upside: Borom is a kid many teams had penciled in as a Day 2 draft pick at guard, but few saw the flexibility he’d bring after completely changing his body type between the end of his last year at Missouri and the draft. It unlocked previously hidden athleticism and potentially the special feet it takes to play left tackle, still the most important O-line spot in front of a right-handed QB.
He also has a high floor because if the left tackle shot doesn’t work, rather than wasting his talent at right tackle, you may have a Pro Bowl right guard.
Downside: Moving him all over the line too much longer will retard his development in one spot and could cause as many bad habits as good. It’s not too late yet, but pick a spot soon and leave him there.
Upside: He is a natural-born pass rusher in a special athlete’s body who arrived as a developmental project. What you want out of those projects is continued progress at a fairly rapid pace. He made nice strides between his first and second seasons, and he is a high-character kid who continues to mature off the field as well.
Downside: He played multiple positions in college and is now in his second spot – 40 front defensive end – in his third year in Chicago. We need to see a full season at this position before we really know who he is and what he can be.
Thomas Graham Jr.
Upside: Honestly this is a leap of faith from me as the sample size is so small, but every once in a while a kid comes along and you can just feel the star power oozing out of him. He has all the tools to play anywhere in the secondary and may just need reps and playing time to emerge.
Downside: The sample size is so small and he plays a position where there is nowhere to hide if you don’t figure it out quick.
Upside: Cover their faces and you may think you’re watching Roquan Smith. He’s the same body type, has similar athleticism, excellent speed and even more so than Smith, he unloads with vicious intent when he arrives at the ball.
Downside: I wish he was a couple years younger. Why couldn’t he claim and keep a starting spot in Las Vegas, and why did the Raiders let him get away?
Others on my radar
Kindle Vildor: Don’t give up yet.
Khalil Herbert: Still haven’t seen his ceiling.
Teven Jenkins: Looking more and more like a guard.
Caleb Johnson: Strictly a hunch.