With not a whole lot of Bears news to talk about until training camp begins, I’m going to breakdown the Bears depth chart at every position. I’ll give a high-level overview of each position, highlight potential battles for both starting roles and roster spots and point out a few players to watch.
I’ve already covered the depth chart at a few positions:
Today I will be covering the Bears depth chart at running back. The loss of Matt Forte created a huge hole to fill and I’ll cover the Bears running backs who could help fill it.
Depth Chart: Running Back
It’s a new era in Chicago at running back with Bear legend Matt Forte not the starting running back for the first time since 2008. Forte gave the Bears a Pro Bowl caliber running back since 2008 and left some huge cleats to fill for whoever earns the Bears starting running back job in 2016.
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The Bears have a stable of running backs who are mostly unproven, but all have the talent to make an impact for the Bears in 2016. Last year’s 4th round pick Jeremy Langford had an uneven debut, but flashed some talent as a rookie with seven touchdowns. 2014 4th round pick Ka’Deem Carey is still in the mix, as is veteran Jacquizz Rodgers, and 5th round rookie Jordan Howard.
Langford flashed explosive speed at time with a few big plays including an 83 yard touchdown on a screen pass, on the downside he had way too many runs for zero or negative yardage which left his yards per carry at a disappointing 3.6 ypc. For a feature back, that’s unacceptable production. The inconsistency of the Bears offensive line had something to do with Langford’s struggles, but in contrast Forte averaged 4.1 ypc.
Ka’Deem Carey was drafted by the Bears old regime and was thought to be on the roster bubble going into the 2015 season, but surprised many with his tough inside running and willingness to fight for extra yards. He still only averaged a tenth of a yard more per carry than Langford at 3.7 ypc.
Veteran Jacquizz Rdogers was brought back due to his leadership, pass blocking ability, good hands out of the backfield, and special teams contributions. Rodgers is a small back (5’7, 190), but impressed with his ability to run inside and gain yards between the tackles. Despite some decent runs inside, Rodgers averaged even less per carry than the rest of the Bears backs at 2.9 ypc.
The x-factor this season is rookie Jordan Howard. He’s a 5th round pick, so isn’t garnering a ton of attention, but I had Howard graded as a 2nd rounder as did many other reputable sites with NFL.com grading him as the 25th best draft prospect overall (tied with Cody Whitehair). Howard brings a new dimension to the Bears running game with legit power at 6’1, 230 pounds and 4.59 speed.
Howard has the burst to get outside if needed, but does his best work between the tackles. He has excellent vision, doesn’t waste steps, and once through the hole is a beast to bring down on the 2nd level. He’s not just a power back either with the ability to pass block and soft hands out of the backfield.
I’ll break down the battle for both the starting position and spots on the roster below.
Next: RB Position Battle