Chicago Bears: Five Most Important Defensive Backups

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Sep 14, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws under pressure from Chicago Bears Jonathan Bostic (57) and Jared Allen (69) in the first quarter at Levis Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Bostic, ILB

I liked the selection of Bostic in the 2013 draft, and I still think he can contribute for the Bears, even after a tough first two seasons playing behind a lousy defensive line in a lousy defense.

In 2013, Bostic was expected to contribute on special teams and learn behind the rented D.J. Williams. Instead, Williams got hurt and Bostic had to play, and looked the part of a rookie middle linebacker playing behind a horrid defensive line. In 2014, he was shifted to strongside linebacker, lost out to Shea McClellin for a starting spot, and ended up playing some middle linebacker and strongside linebacker, and again struggled, particularly in coverage.

Now, in 2015, he’s battling for a starting position in Fangio’s new 3-4 scheme. Learning his third position in three years – just like fellow inside linebacker McClellin – puts Bostic at a disadvantage, as do his coverage skills. This time though, he’s learning from Fangio and not former coordinator Mel Tucker, a point that should help Bostic improve, as Fangio has a good track record with developing linebackers (Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman).

While I don’t think he’ll be a regular starter, I’m still expecting Bostic to contribute heavily to the 2015 Bears defense. McClellin is also a coverage liability, and I’m not putting stock in McClellin after watching him play since 2012. Foster suffered from injury problems last year, and Jones will also be learning a new scheme as Fangio shifts him to inside linebacker. There will be chances aplenty for Bostic and any of the inside linebacker crew.

If Bostic can improve in coverage, I think he’ll have a chance to start some games and be the primary backup for Foster and Jones. He’s fast and athletic enough to play inside linebacker in Fangio’s scheme, but his coverage skills will limit his opportunities. I would not be surprised to see him on the field in expected running situations as a means to spell Foster and Jones and to limit the harm Bostic can do in passing situations.

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