Chicago Bears: Five Most Important Defensive Backups

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Jan 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) makes a touchdown against Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (90) in the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Goldman, NT

In an ideal world, Goldman will prove himself worthy of a starting spot, allowing the Bears to nudge Ratliff outside to end and strengthen the defensive line. But in our projection, Goldman doesn’t make the cut as a starter.

The big rookie, drafted in the second round out of Florida State, projects as a solid run stuffer who doesn’t have a strong pass rushing game. In college, Goldman notched only six sacks in three seasons, so his primary contribution to the Bears will likely come in rush defense, where they ranked 17th last year, allowing about 113 yards a game and 4.3 yards per attempt.

Mar 31, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive lineman Eddie Goldman runs the 40-yard dash during FSU Football Pro Day at the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Goldman should, and likely will, spell Ratliff, who is aging and has battled injuries for most of his career. I’m looking for Goldman to primarily be in on run downs, when he can focus on holding at the point of attack and not have to worry about rushing the passer. With so much unrest and unproven players on the defensive line, I’m expecting teams to try to ram the ball through the Bears defense, so I think Goldman will see lots of time on the field to stem the tide.

Goldman doesn’t have a ton of competition at his position; only undrafted rookie The Swamp Monster seems a likely contender for nose tackle playing time, and I expect Goldman will be given every chance to win the starting nose tackle spot. Failing that, Goldman better be ready to start, because Ratliff hasn’t played a full season since 2011 with Dallas, where he played nose tackle. Last year, Ratliff was the Bears’ best defensive lineman, collecting 6.5 sacks, but still missed five games.

As the season progresses, I fully expect Goldman to start. Hopefully, he’ll develop some manner of pass rushing moves to compliment his run stuffing skills, but in his rookie season I’ll settle for competent run defense. We haven’t seen that for some time in Chicago.

Next: Chicago Bears: Pinpointing Five Breakout Candidates

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