The Bears brought in defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus this offseason. A rebuild is underway, and to facilitate that, the Bears traded veteran linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chargers for second and third-round draft picks. Chicago did not have a 2022 first-round pick, but they did spend second-round picks on defensive backs, Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon.
The Bears did have some bright spots in 2021, led by Robert Quinn’s 18.5 sacks. Veteran linebacker Khalil also had six sacks in seven games. This helped the Bears finish fourth in the NFL in sacks. The defense also finished first in sack percentage and tenth in tackles for loss (TFL).
It was a mixed bag, though. While the Bears sacked the quarterback if they got to him, they were 28th in quarterback hits. They were also 28th in turnovers.
Gone are Bilal Nichols and Akeim Hicks on the interior of the defensive line. In are Justin Jones and Angelo Blackson. Both are bye-week fill-ins with some upside as they did produce 37+ total tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2021.
On the edge, Robert Quinn returns after putting up 18.5 sacks in 2021. Check your league settings to see if Quinn is classified as an Edge, linebacker, or defensive end. Trevis Gipson mans the other end position and delivered seven sacks in 2021. Quinn is worth a starting spot in leagues that reward sacks. I would roster Gipson in deeper leagues and take a wait-in-see approach.
The Bears linebacker corps starts with star Roquan Smith. Smith finished as the LB4 in IDP123 scoring leagues after racking up 163 combined tackles and 3 sacks. Smith is currently holding out for a new contract but should remain a top linebacker regardless of landing spot.
Nicholas Morrow and journeyman Joe Thomas round out the linebacking corps. Morrow missed 2021 with an ankle injury. I expect him to be an LB3/4 after finishing as LB32 in 2020. Thomas is a wildcard. He has been a backup his whole career, and I am not counting on him contributing in 2022.
After not having a first-round pick in the 2022 draft, the Bears spent their own second-rounder and the second-round pick they received in the Khalil Mack deal on defensive backs. Strong safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon were the selections.
Brisker is the guy you want to roster. He will be in the position to make tackles, and given the expectations for the Bears in 2022, the defense will be on the field a lot. Brisker was a top three rookie defensive back in rookie drafts this off-season.
The free safety spot is held down by Eddie Jackson. Jackson has just one season with more than two interceptions and is nothing more than a bye-week prayer.
Like most cornerbacks, I don’t advocate rostering them unless you are required to start a cornerback. Kyler Gordon had just two interceptions in college. I am not looking for him to turn into a turnover machine now that he is in the NFL.
The Bears have a few IDP assets. Roquan Smith is the top IDP player for the Bears. If Smith continues to hold out, check with the manager in your league and see if he is getting nervous, you may be able to get him at a slight discount.
In sack-heavy leagues, Robert Quinn is a DL1, but at 32 years old, the drop in production could happen any time. Quinn is the quintessential win-now buy.
Brisker and Jackson could provide value on the back end. Brisker projects as the better asset as the Bears figure to be playing from behind with opponents running the ball to run out the clock. That sets Brisker up to get a lot of tackles.
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