Chicago Bears Rookie Grades (Part 2)

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

ILB John Timu – My second favorite among the Bears UDFAs after Callahan, Timu was a two-time team captain in college on a Washington defense that had four players drafted in the first two rounds last year. He also led the Huskies in tackles his last two seasons in college. His production in college wasn’t enough to get him drafted though as his 4.80 40-time is a step or two slow for an NFL linebacker.

Timu’s football instincts were enough to make up for his lack of speed in college, but may not be at the next level. He spent most of the season on the Bears practice squad, but was given a chance to play late in the season as a starting ILB the last three weeks. Timu was productive, leading the Bears in tackles in two of his three starts and improving the Bears inconsistent run defense. He proved that his instincts and strength will play against the run in the NFL, but also that his speed is a liability against the pass.

Timu was picked on often in the pass game over the last few weeks, struggling to cover RBs and TEs out of the backfield. There was a play against the Lions in week 17, where he was beat over the middle by hefty RB Joique Bell for a 36 yard reception. If Timu can’t cover Joique Bell, there aren’t going to be many RBs he can handle in coverage.

All of the Bears current inside linebackers have at least one flaw, but the Bears two undrafted ILBs (Timu, Anderson) at least have a tangible skill. While Anderson is the best coverage ILB the Bears have, Timu looked like the best run stopper among the group. His run instincts put him around the ball more often then not, he has the strength to shed blockers, he diagnoses plays quickly and attacks the line of scrimmage with confidence.

Timu will be in the mix to play significant snaps at ILB next season. If the Bears don’t bring in a clear upgrade at the position, Timu could play ILB in base packages while Anderson replaces him in sub-packages. Whether he ends up starting or not, Timu’s contributions on special teams and leadership qualities should secure his spot on the roster in 2016.

Grade: B-