September 20, 2021

Hub Arkush: Let’s stack the Bears' roster up against the rest of the NFL

Since final cuts Tuesday, linebacker Danny Trevathan and offensive tackle Teven Jenkins have gone on injured reserve, wide receiver Rodney Adams has been cut, defensive backs Artie Burns and Marqui Christian and returner Nsimba Webster have been added to the depth chart, and by Monday, receiver Breshad Perriman will be a Bear and one more player will be released.

There could be – and likely will be – more moves to come, but the roster is settled enough now that we can take a hard look at how the Bears stack up against the rest of the league.

QUARTERBACK: With Andy Dalton and his 142 starts and five trips to the playoffs as the starter, Justin Fields as one of the top three or four prospects in the game – anyone arguing with Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert? – and a Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles as No. 3, the Bears’ QB room is minimally in the top third of the league. Good enough to win with.

RUNNING BACK: David Montgomery emerged as an elite back the last third of last season, and Damien Williams gives them the No. 2 they’ve lacked in recent seasons. Williams can contribute every week and provide solid backup if Montgomery gets nicked. Now if Tarik Cohen gets back to 100%.... Definitely good enough to win playoff games with.

WIDE RECEIVER: You love all the speed, and I do believe Darnell Mooney will be the real deal, but Allen Robinson is the only proven NFL stud. Perriman is an NFL journeyman working on his seventh NFL team, not the first-round stud he was when the Ravens drafted him six seasons ago. Enough to be encouraged by but a lot left to prove.

TIGHT END: Like the QBs, we’re excited about Cole Kmet and happy to have Jimmy Graham and Jesse James. But this group is more dependent on Kmet right now than the QBs are on Fields. Should be good enough to win with.

OFFENSIVE LINE: The interior – guard, center, guard – is as solid and deep as almost any in the league and still improving but let’s be honest, the tackles right now are a crapshoot. Not good enough to win with yet.

DEFENSIVE LINE: If healthy this could be one of the top three-to-five units in the league when they get Mario Edwards Jr. back. Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols all may have All-Pro ceilings. Definitely good enough to win playoff games with.

LINEBACKERS: Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Danny Trevathan, Alec Ogletree and Christian Jones are all 30-somethings but Mack, Quinn and Roquan Smith are already first or second team All-Pros. So again, if healthy this could be one of the top three-to-five groups in the league. Definitely good enough to win playoff games with.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson are already Pro Bowlers. Jaylon Johnson looks like he will be, and with Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Christian, they are as stacked as any team in the league at safety. But while Kindle Vildor is promising, he isn’t proven. The nickel spot is still unsettled, and Jackson is trying to bounce back from a down year. Promising but need to prove you can win with them.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The kicking game should be solid with Patrick O’Donnell and Cairo Santos and good enough to win with. But return and coverage teams are still complete unknowns, particularly until Cohen gets back. We just need to wait and see.

In terms of pure talent, the narrative that the Bears are one of the worst teams in the league is ridiculous, and there is enough young talent that they could even be a team on the rise this season.

But with continued uncertainty about coaching, age and how much the youngsters will grow and contribute, plus what may be a difficult to brutal schedule, they could also struggle to win six or seven games.

I’ll get you my best guess at my prediction before they kick off in Los Angeles.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media