With the majority of free agency done, what does the Chicago Bears defensive line depth chart look like?
Now that we are in the small break between the free agency and the NFL draft, it is a good time to look at the Chicago Bears roster as a whole. What does the depth chart look like heading into the draft, and what are the positions of need that are still unfilled?
1. Akiem Hicks
Hicks only played five games in 2019. He started the first four and came back by the end of the season to get some snaps in before being shut down again when the Bears were out of playoff contention.
Hicks gave his all for the team to come back from injury, and there were stark differences when he was on the field compared to off of it. Hicks is 30 and coming off an injury so there is a concern, but there is no doubt that he is the most important player on this defensive line.
2. Eddie Goldman
Goldman had yet another solid season in 2019. It is worth noting that his snap total went down from 591 the year before to 467 in 2019. Goldman did not suit up Week 17, but still, his snap share has gone down from 57% in 2017 to 52% in 2018 and now 47% last season. He has always been a rotational player, and this speaks more to the depth of the line than Goldman, but still, it is a reason not to expect a bigger role for Goldman moving forward.
3. Bilal Nichols
Nichols saw a good portion of that snaps that Goldman lost in 2019. He went from playing 31% in 2018 to 42%, as he started to break out in year two. Nichols is now heading into year three, and the 47-42% difference in playing time between him and Goldman may get closer in 2020, if not flip towards Nichols.
4. Roy Robertson-Harris
RRH also went from seeing 33% of the snaps in 2018 to 50% in 2019. He exploded early into the season but plateaued towards the middle and end of the season. The Bears put a second-round tender on him, which puts him in another big contract season. Hope is that RRH can build on his fast start, and put together a career year that leads to an extension.
5. Brett Urban
Urban was brought in after being let go by the Tennessee Titans towards the end of last season. He filled in well and is a solid run defender, but he did not have a market this offseason and re-signed with the Bears on a cheap deal. Urban should make the roster, but he is a depth defensive end.
6. Abdullah Anderson
Anderson is currently the backup nose tackle. Not many others on the roster can stand in the 0 or 1 gap besides Anderson and Goldman and that provides value for Anderson. Anderson played just over 100 snaps in 2019 and struggled when he did get on the field, causing him to be inactive often. Still, that is a step up from his 2018 where he played on the practice squad all year as a rookie UDFA. He has taken steps from Bucknell, to practice squad to active roster. Hopefully 2020 means being a contributor more than a liability.
Still, the Bears have their defensive line set for the most part. They may add depth at both end and nose tackle, but those would be late picks, and more than likely would be UDFA additions due to needs elsewhere. Expect a UDFA nose tackle to be brought in to push Anderson, but do not be surprised if this is the six that are on the initial roster.