Hub Arkush: Analyzing Bears 53-man roster
LAKE FOREST – Hmm, were the Chicago Bears just trying to cover up the unveiling of their final 53-man roster by giving up two first-round draft choices and $141 million to acquire 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack?
Just kidding, but it certainly did steal all the headlines and bury any unit-by-unit analysis of just how good these Bears are.
Let’s start here: There are 38 players back from last year’s 5-11 team that finished last in the NFC North for the fourth consecutive year.
The Bears are vastly improved, but they are still not in the same league talent-wise with the Vikings, Eagles, Falcons and Rams, and it remains unclear whether or not they have caught the Saints, Packers and Panthers.
Right now the team’s improvement is based on projecting performances from individual players who clearly have the tools but have not yet proven they can take advantage of them.
The excitement about Mitch Trubisky is fair. Not only does he have the physical tools to be a very good NFL quarterback, he has displayed the mental traits to possibly even be special.
The problem is he hasn’t done anything on the field yet to justify confidence he can deliver on that promise.
With Chase Daniel behind him, the Bears are improved at the position, but anyone who says they know how good they’re going to be is just guessing. B
The team is definitely good enough at running back, where Jordan Howard is one of the most underrated players in the league, Tarik Cohen is wildly exciting as an X-factor who has shown he can deliver and Benny Cunningham is a nice option on third down. A -
Chicago is also vastly improved at wide receiver and tight end, and may have one of the best groups in the league, but there are still no guarantees with any of them.
Allen Robinson was a slam-dunk No. 1 in 2015, a decent No. 2 in 2016 and then he tore his ACL last season. What will he be this year?
Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton are all very exciting prospects with a combined 195 catches for 2,448 yards and 14 TDs in eight seasons.
That’s an annual average of 24-306-1.8 receiving from your top tight end and second and third receivers combined. Then there’s Kevin White.
There is nice TE depth. B
The offensive line is average with the exception of Kyle Long who can be the best guard in football if he’s healthy, and there is still no certainty at left guard or depth-wise.
This group could significantly overachieve and it could be the club’s Achilles heel. C +
The defensive line has a potential Pro Bowler in Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman not far off that level.
Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris and Bilal Nichols are all, again, very exciting. B
Linebacker could be special — in fact it should be.
Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd can be the best group in the league, and Sam Acho, Nick Kwiatkoski, Aaron Lynch and Isaiah Irving provide excellent depth.
The problem at the moment is Mack and Smith aren’t in game shape and don’t know the playbook, Floyd has a broken hand, Trevathan has two rebuilt knees and Lynch hasn’t practiced since he got here with various soft-tissue issues. Today B, by week four A
The secondary is the deepest it’s been this century with Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson flashing Pro Bowl skills, Prince Amukamara currently playing the best football of his career and excellent depth.
Adrian Amos is still a concern, but he has shown nice improvement. B+
Special teams look solid in coverage and the return game but Patrick O’Donnell won a punt-off mostly by default, and Cody Parkey didn’t inspire great confidence in exhibition games. C+
Coaching? I love almost everything I’ve seen from Nagy so far, but he still hasn’t coached his first real game. Incomplete
Does that sound like a playoff team to you? They’re close, but now potential must become production before they’re worthy of the hype the Mack trade has brought.