Chicago Bears: Potential Break Out Players (Defense)
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Like Bass, Washington is better off in a 3-4 scheme. Washington has spent the last two seasons gaining weight (265) to play DE in a 4-3, but at his natural weight (250) Washington would be an ideal fit as a 3-4 OLB. He’s shown off his athleticism on special teams coverage units and was a beast last preseason, but couldn’t get on the field as a DE because off struggles against the run. Washington has all the athletic tools to be a dominant pass rusher (4.55 speed, 35 bench reps, 39″ vert) and a switch to a 3-4 will allow him to focus on getting to the QB which is what he does best. Here is a quote about the former 6th round pick from draft analyst Mike Mayock:
“One of my favorite players. He’s a little bit one-dimensional. But you put him on the edge and ask him to hunt quarterbacks.”
With multiple established NFL players in front of him, Washington will most likely be regulated to a sub-package role but he has the talent to have a significant impact as a pass rusher. Remember Mark Anderson? An unknown pass rusher who came out of nowhere to have 12 sacks in 2006? That could be Washington this year.
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With almost no college experience I’m sure the Bears were planning on stashing Louis-Jean on the practice squad last year to develop his coverage skills, but the release of Isaiah Frey and injuries to Tillman, Hurst, and Jennings depleted the Bears secondary. After a few snaps in week 6, Louis-Jean was elevated to slot corner for the Bears week 8 match-up with the Patriots due to a Tim Jennings injury. It was a long day for Louis-Jean as he was repeatedly picked on by Tom Brady and gave up 7 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He bounced back with a strong performance in week 12, giving up only 1 catch against the Bucs in 38 defensive snaps.
New Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio preferred tall aggressive corners in his time with the 49ers and Louis-Jean seems like a perfect fit for Fangio’s coverage scheme which uses a mix of press and zone coverages. Louis-Jean is only 21 and still raw, but has great size (6’1 | 187) and the talent to eventually become a solid contributor on the outside. ALJ will be backing up Kyle Fuller and may not see many snaps if Fuller stays healthy, but if he gets a chance to play he has the talent to be a starting caliber NFL corner.