Bears Depth Chart: Outside Linebacker

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

Position Battle (53-man Roster): Veteran Sam Acho is the next man up on the OLB depth chart, but doesn’t offer much in the way of pass-rushing. After a promising seven-sack season as a rookie in 2011, Acho has just six total sacks over the last four seasons. His main value is on special teams, but as an occasional fill-in Acho can provide pressure, decent coverage skills, and more importantly above-average value on special teams coverage units. His special teams ability may keep him on the roster, but he has by far the least upside of the OLBs on the Bears roster in 2016.

Acho’s main competition for the sixth and presumably final OLB job is Christian Jones. You may be surprised to see him on this list as he was a starting inside linebacker for the Bears last season. Though from his lack of effectiveness inside, it shouldn’t be a shock to see Jones moving positions (again).

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports /

As a rookie in 2014, Jones spent most of his defensive snaps at OLB in the Bears 4-3 alignment playing both strong and weak-side linebacker. He showed a lot of potential at both positions with 69 tackles, two sacks, and the 4th best-tackling proficiency rating from Pro Football Focus.

Jones has ideal size (6’3, 240) and the athleticism to excel at all aspects of the position (4.58 40-time). He was originally projected as a 3rd round pick, but a failed drug test at the combine dropped him out of the draft. Jones has shown the instincts to excel as a pass rusher and has the speed to cover the flat when needed.

Inside linebacker was a bad fit for Jones, but he has the ability to be useful off the edge in a 3-4 and has significantly more upside than Acho. If it comes down to these two players fighting for a roster spot, Jones’ innate athleticism and potential should give him an edge over Acho as long as he is willing to contribute on special teams.

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