Chicago Bears: Predicting Best Players for 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 09: Jordan Howard /

Training camp is underway, and we have already gotten a glimpse of who could be the standout players for the Chicago Bears in 2017. Of course, we won’t get a better indication until the start of Chicago’s preseason, but it never hurts to make a prediction of the unforeseen future in the NFL. Believe it or not, the Bears’ roster is packed with playmakers in all three phases. Returning veterans, newly-acquired free agents, and rookies alike are all capable of being vital parts to Chicago’s potential success this year. Let’s just take a look at who will most likely be the cream of the crop for the Bears in 2017.

Offensive Player of the Year: Jordan Howard

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

In 2016, running back Jordan Howard was undoubtedly the Bears’ most valuable player. Having not been put into the starting lineup until after Week 3, Howard went on to be Chicago’s primary ball carrier, and ended the season as the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,313 yards. There’s no question that the Pro Bowler will get ample opportunities to pick up where he left off last year. And having a chance to be the starter from the very start of the 2017 season behind an offensive line that has more chemistry, Howard will definitely be the Bears’ offensive MVP.

Another possibility: Cameron Meredith

Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Floyd

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

Expectations for outside linebacker Leonard Floyd were really high after he was selected ninth overall by the Bears in last year’s draft.  Those expectations are still high, and Floyd just might prove why he was worthy of being a top-10 pick. The 6-foot-6, 251 pounder reported to camp with a bit more muscle than last season, to complement his quickness. Floyd ended the 2016 season tied for second on the team with seven sacks, and possibly could have had more if it wasn’t for concussions and a calf injury. Thus far during training camp, coaches have said that Floyd is playing much faster and with more understanding of what to do. Assuming that he can play an entire season, Floyd just might be the first Bear since 2014 to have double-digit sacks in a season.

Other possibilities: Jerrell Freeman, Akiem Hicks

Most Improved Player: Cody Whitehair

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images /

Just like Howard, center Cody Whitehair was a pleasant surprise in the Bears’ draft class from last season. Originally brought in as a guard, Whitehair was thrusted into the starting lineup as a center after the season-ending injury to Hroniss Grasu and the signing of guard Josh Sitton. Whitehair exceeded expectations in 2016, and started all 16 regular-season games. Entering only his second year, the 2016 second-round draft pick is looked upon as one of the up-and-coming O-linemen in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked Whitehair as the sixth-best center in the league last year. With two perennial Pro Bowlers in Kyle Long and Sitton flanking him, Whitehair has a good chance at earning a Pro Bowl nod of his own.

Another possibility: Nick Kwiatkowski

Rookie of the Year: Adam Shaheen

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images /

There really isn’t too much to pick from here. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is already said to be taking a back seat to Mike Glennon. Fellow rookies Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and Jordan Morgan are buried on the depth chart as well. This leaves tight end Adam Shaheen. Although Shaheen is slated to be a backup as well, he may have the most playing time of all the rookies on the Bears’ roster. We can also factor in the strong possibility of Zach Miller (pictured above) continuing his long history of injuries.

Another possibility: Tarik Cohen

Best Free-Agent Addition: Quintin Demps

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

If there is one thing that the Bears’ defense needed help with last year, it was creating takeaways. Chicago had a league-low of 11 forced turnovers (eight interceptions, three fumble recoveries) in 2016. During the offseason, the Bears signed 10-year veteran safety Quintin Demps. Although Demps didn’t become a starter until his sixth season in the NFL, he has a nose for the ball. Demps has recorded 15 interceptions over the last four seasons with Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, and Houston Texans. Demps’ six interceptions from last year was a career-high and led the Texans’ second-ranked pass defense. Harold Jones-Quartey recorded two picks of his own over the last two years, and those are the only interceptions by Bears safety over the past two seasons. Look for Demps to be the team leader in interceptions in 2017.

Other possibilities: Kendall Wright, Mike Glennon