Chicago Bears – Midseason Rookie Grades

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DT Eddie Goldman (2nd round) – Has been forced into the starting lineup with the release of Jeremiah Ratliff and for the most part has held his own at the nose tackle position. It is rarely mentioned, but Goldman is one of the youngest starters in the NFL at just 21 years old which makes his competence more impressive. He has struggled at times, but overall is about a league average NT and has shown flashes of more than that with the ability to collapse the pocket, move laterally against the run, and occupy two blockers to clog run lanes. This is a development year for Goldman, but his future is promising.

Grade: B

Jonathan Anderson (undrafted) – A surprise contributor who didn’t even start his senior year at TCU, but came out of nowhere with an impressive performance in the Bears 4th preseason game (2 sacks) to earn a spot on the practice squad. Anderson was called up to the active roster before the Bears week 6 game verse the Lions. He made an immediate impact with one interception and another one overturned by officials review.

Last week was Anderson’s 3rd game with the Bears and his best so far as he led the team in tackles with 12 and made some nice open field stops. Anderson has also contributed on special teams in his brief stint on the active roster.

With Shea McClellin returning soon, the Bears will need to decide who should get the starting ILB spot. It will most likely go to the veteran McClellin, but Anderson has shown enough to be in consideration at least. His elite speed (4.5) and coverage ability gives him a skill-set that none of the Bears other ILBs can match.

If/when the Bears give up on making the playoffs this year, Anderson should see an increase in snaps and if he keeps making plays he could go into the 2016 season with a chance to be a starting ILB for the Bears.

Grade: B-

CB Bryce Callahan (undrafted) – One of my favorite of the Bears UDFAs who earned a spot on the final 53-man roster with a strong preseason before being demoted to the practice squad after making a special teams mistake that contributed to a kick return TD by the Cardinals in week 2. Callahan earned his way back on the active roster before week 8.

He’s played significant snaps since then as the Bears slot corner the last two weeks and has played well. Callahan has made a couple key 3rd down pass defenses and is aggressive verse the run despite being undersized. His toughness, instincts and elite athleticism stood out to me on tape when scouting Callahan and I think he has the potential to be a long-term piece of the Bears secondary.

Grade: B-

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WR Cameron Meredith (undrafted) – He wasn’t expected to see the field this season, but stepped up when Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were hurt and the undrafted rookie flashed potential. On the season Meredith has just 8 catches for 95 yards but has excellent size (6’3 | 200) and showed the ability to make something happen after the catch.

With the continued injury issues of Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, Meredith could certainly see an uptick in snaps again before the end of the season. The depth chart at receiver may look quite different by next year, but Meredith has shown enough potential to be in the mix for a bigger role in 2016.

Grade: C+

TE Khari Lee (trade) – The Bears acquired Lee in a trade with the Texans for a 6th round pick (2017) near the end of the preseason. It seemed like a high price to pay for an undrafted player, but Lee has seen offensive snaps in eight games as the Bears 3rd tight end and also contributed on special teams.

The Bears like Lee’s ability as a blocker mostly, but the coaching staff has mentioned his soft hands and potential as a receiver as well. The Bears invested a draft pick in Lee, so they won’t be giving up on him any time soon and he could develop into a Dante Rosario type player in the next year or two.

Grade: C+

Next: Draft Grades: Hroniss Grasu