The Rook: Jon Bostic
Playmaker – We’ve only seen about two full games worth of Bostic in the preseason and he has already made two highlight reel plays. If somehow you haven’t seen his pick-6 or the massive hit he put on Chargers rookie Mike Willie, you can watch clips here & here.
Upside – Williams in his prime was a borderline all-pro LB who was going to give you 90-100 tackles a year with a handful of sacks. We don’t know if Bostic’s ceiling is higher then that and we’re not going to find out while he’s sitting on the bench.
Coverage – As impressive as Bostic’s highlights are there have some blown coverages resulting in at least one touchdown against the Charges. Can a defense built to win now risk dealing with Bostic’s inevitable growing pains?
Play-calling – Coaches have been impressed with Bostic’s maturity and leadership so far, but it’s one thing to be calm and collected in training camp and another when you’re in Lambeau across the line of scrimmage from Aaron Rodgers.
Upside or consistency? That is what the Bears choice boils down to at middle linebacker. Bostic’s talent is obvious, his playmaking ability is exciting, and he could potentially make a strong defensive unit even more dynamic. Or he could take a few games or even the majority of the season to adjust to NFL coverage schemes. Can the Bears risk waiting on Bostic’s learning curve? The offense is implementing a new scheme and the Bears defense might have to carry the team early in the season (nothing new there).
This is a team with multiple contract-year players at important positions (Cutler, Melton, Tillman) and it might be the last year with this core on both sides of the ball. The Bears have enough talent to make a deep playoff run and are built to win this year. As tempted as I am to see what Bostic can do, Williams is the safe choice and probably the right one. Bostic will get reps as Williams’ back-up and if Williams gets hurt or he’s not the same player he was with Denver, the Bears have a quality backup ready to take over.
Verdict: DJ Williams