Which way is the stock trending for the Chicago Bears third-year defensive lineman?
Like seemingly every member of the Chicago Bears, Bilal Nichols was better in 2018 than he was in 2019. It is fair that he gets an excuse, as he was injured early in the year, and missed three games.
Still, he was active for 13 games and saw his sack total decrease by three. Nichols was not quite effective. The injury can answer questions, but for a player going from year one to year two, some progression should have been seen.
Instead, it is arguable that there is less hype around Nichols now than there has been since he was drafted. Even then, there was a lot of intrigue based around his athleticism.
Early into his rookie season, he started making an impact. His performance against the Patriots in 2018 was one of the best of the season.
So, the question is whether he can get that perception back. It does not help that he doesn’t get an offseason with the coaches, but if any unit can survive that, it is the defensive line.
The same starters and rotational players who were on the unit in 2018 are still here, all the way down to Abdullah Anderson and John Jenkins as depth. There is plenty of continuity for this group to grow.
Beyond that, Nichols will be just 24 this season. Most linemen see their prime fall from 25-30, so we are actually just about to see the best of him soon. Getting back to a couple of sacks, and plenty more pressures would not be a surprise. His role may grow, but it certainly will not decrease. The stock on Nichols is currently trending up.