Chicago Bears Rookie Grades (Part 2)

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

ILB Jonathan Anderson – There may not be a more unlikely success story on the Bears as Anderson didn’t even start his senior year in college. He got a shot at making an NFL roster due to a solid junior year tape and elite speed (4.5) for a linebacker. Anderson earned a spot on the Bears practice squad with a huge game in the preseason finale; Against the Browns in week four of the preseason, Anderson had two sacks, 4 stops near the line of scrimmage and a couple of nice plays in pass coverage.

Pass coverage is what sets Anderson apart from the rest of the Bears inside linebacker corps. All season the Bears ILBs struggled to cover RBs and TEs (especially Shea McLellin) and it was just a matter if time until the Bears called up Anderson and gave him a shot.

He made an impact right away with an interception in his first start and a 2nd INT in the end zone that was controversially over-ruled by official review. Two games later he led the Bears with 12 tackles and played with an aggression that starting ILBs McClellin and Jones lacked all season.

For the season Anderson had 34 tackles, a sack, and an interception in just three starts. He also added value on special teams and by the end of the season had replaced starter Christian Jones in sub packages.

Little if anything was expected of Anderson this year, but he proved that he has a unique skill-set among the Bears ILBs and can also contribute on special teams. The ILB position will be one of the Bears biggest needs in the off-season, but Anderson’s coverage skills, blitzing instincts, and special teams value should keep him in the mix for playing time regardless of who the Bears add in the off-season.

Grade: B