How will the Chicago Bears edge linebacker depth chart play out?
Now that the NFL draft is over it is time to start looking to rookie camps, OTAs and training camp. The 90-man roster is now set so the time to speculate about who will be in what spot, and who may make the 53-man roster is here. In this series, we will go position by position to project the potential depth chart of the Bears come August. This edition will focus on edge linebackers and will go by the projected amount of snaps played this season.
1. Leonard Floyd
This should be a year in which Floyd has the chance to breakout. Floyd played in 12 games as a rookie and put up seven sacks. It was a great start, and with better health and a stronger idea of what is expected of him after one season, he should be able to expand himself into double digit sack range. Floyd was a top ten pick so this quick impact should be expected, but it is good to see he is still on a strong learning curve.
2. Willie Young
Young had a pretty strong 2016 season. He is an interesting case being a defensive end most of his career and becoming an outside linebacker in the Vic Fangio scheme. He still rarely plays in space, and his impact on the edge has been consistent. Expect Young to stay in the rotation and see most of his snaps come on early downs.
3. Pernell McPhee
McPhee still has a lot of upside, but injuries have held back his progression in the defense. McPhee first season in Chicago was 2015, and he missed four games. In 2016, McPhee started the season on the PUP and was only active for nine games, starting zero. He put in four sacks and showed well against
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the run, but it is now consistency that Bears fans need to see, as he is a known impact player when healthy.
4. Lamarr Houston
Houston is a player who will enter training camp with a lot to lose. Houston was once a defensive force and was a priority free agent for the Bears when a different regime ran things. However, in three seasons with Chicago, he has started in just ten games and has been inactive for 22 games. He would save the Bears $5 million if he were cut this offseason and it would not be the biggest surprise.
5. Sam Acho
The Bears would need to feel confident in a guy such as Acho to move on from Houston. Acho has been with the Bears for two seasons. He has been a rotational pass rusher and a special teams asset and has done well in that role. Whether or not he can handle more on his plate is a question, but he may have the chance to show whether or not he can in the preseason.
6. Dan Skuta
Skuta is an interesting case and a player signed recently. Skuta is interesting because he can play both on the edge and off of the ball. He is similar to Christian Jones. Jon Timu and Jonathan Anderson in that regard, and if Houston is to make the team it will likely be those four fighting for the last couple of roster spots.
7. Hendrick Ekpe
Ekpe is a tryout guy who might not be on the roster very long. Still, he is worth a shot to look at and in a best case scenario could make the practice squad.
8. Isaiah Irving
Irving is a bit undersized and he may be looked at as a special teams option who can provide depth in a few roles.