Chicago Bears – Midseason Rookie Grades

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few seasons the Bears have been one of the oldest teams in the NFL; They had the 5th oldest roster in 2012, the 4th oldest in 2013, and the 3rd oldest in 2014¹. The Bears kept getting older every year under GM Phil Emery, but somehow got worse record wise.

One would think a veteran team would at least be competitive, but the Bears went 5-11 in 2014 despite a veteran laden roster. The inability of former Bears GM Phil Emery to find and develop young talent was one of the main reasons he no longer is employed by the Bears. It’s also the reason that new GM Ryan Pace has such a challenging rebuild job on his hands.

This offseason Pace made significant roster moves to shed some old weight from the roster and replace it with young players via the draft and undrafted free agent pool. The result was a jump from one of the three oldest rosters in the league last year to the 19th youngest overall as of week 1. Since then, the trade of Jared Allen (33) and the release of Jeremiah Ratliff (34) has made the Bears roster even younger.

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There has also been a corresponding improvement in performance on both sides of the ball. The Bears defense has gone from 30th in yards per game allowed last year to 9th at the midway point of this season and the offense is averaging 20 more yards per game.

The Bears young players are making a positive impact on both sides of the ball and I will be breaking down the specific contributions of this year’s rookie class below.

2015 Rookie Midseason Grades

The grades take into account not only production on the field, but where they were selected in the draft and what their rookie year expectations were.

S Adrian Amos (5th round) – The Bears have been using day 3 draft picks on safeties seemingly forever, but they may have finally found a keeper in Amos. I thought Amos was a 2nd-3rd round talent, but he has played like a 1st rounder so far. In fact Bears secondary coach, Sam Garnes, said as much this week: “If he was our first-round pick, we would not be disappointed with him. That’s how good he’s playing. He moves as well as anyone.”

Amos hasn’t made many big plays, but hasn’t made many mistakes either which is a huge improvement over the Bears safeties the last few seasons. He also has made some big hits, at least 1-2 per game, which has helped improve the Bears run defense and given them someone opposing receivers need to account for over the middle. The Bears still have plenty of holes in their secondary, including at the other safety position, but they could have one long-term piece in place now in Amos.

Grade: A

RB Jeremy Langford (4th round) – Outside of one really bad dropped pass, Langford has been all the Bears hoped for from their 4th round pick. Langford flashed both power and breakaway speed in the preseason and produced when given limited carries to spell Matt Forte early in the year. He got a chance to be the main back for the Bears last week when Matt Forte was out and Langford took advantage of it with 141 total yards.

With Matt Forte’s contract up after this season, Langford may be auditioning for the Bears starting RB job in 2016. So far Langford has proven he can run between the tackles, has the speed to break long runs, had good hands (except that one time), and can hold his own in pass protection. There is still a long way to go in the season and it’s been a small sample size, but so far Langford has exceeded all expectations.

Grade: A-

Next: Rookie Grade: Eddie Goldman