Through two NFL seasons, who are the best case comparisons for Chicago Bears defensive lineman Bilal Nichols?
When Bilal Nichols was drafted out of Delaware, he was not a known commodity, and fans questioned if he could make the jump. After a stellar rookie season, Nichols showed that he could be a contributor on the Chicago Bears for years to come. Unfortunately, he came down to earth in year two, mainly due to an injury that sidelined him from Weeks 2-7.
Still, through two seasons we are starting to see what type of NFL player Nichols is. When looking at NFL trajectories, we have found that Allen Robinson has had a similar run to Andre Johnson, and Eddie Goldman compares favorably to Shaun Rogers. After two seasons in the NFL, does Nichols compare favorably to any long-standing NFL pros?
Nichols has not racked up stats but does not play a position that is known for it. So, when looking for his peers, the stats will be comparable. Also, we factor in Approximate Value, which helps gauge more of their role.
Below you can see the five most common players who fit the stats of Bilal Nichols through two NFL seasons.
Nichols had a promising rookie season, and that rookie season puts him in a favorable company, even despite an injury. Jarrett and Reader both broke out and broke the bank, while Peko had a long and strong career. Hood has maintained a long term status as a depth lineman, and Billings just signed with the Browns in free agency.
Below, you can see how they compare in terms of snaps played and per snap production. Thanks to PFF, we are able to see pressures as sacks, hits, and hurries, and run stops as well. Their run stop and pressure rate is their percentage on a per snap basis.
It is no surprise that Nichols has played the least, which is why it is still nice to see that he compares well. Of the group, he is up with Jarrett and Peko as the best run defenders through two seasons. He is not quite on the pass rush as Jarrett or even Reader, but Nichols does compare favorably to Domata Peko in value, raw stats and advanced metrics.
Third year breakout?
We have seen how Nichols compares to these names through two seasons, but what does that mean for year three? Below you can see a comparison of the other five year-three stats in comparison to Nichols rookie season. Most fans would say that if Nichols got back to that sort of production, it would be a strong season, so how does that year compare to others in their third season?
Jarrett really started to ascend in year three, and you started to see why Reader saw the contract he did this offseason. As you can see from AV, all five arguably had a more productive season, which is a sign of more good things to come for Nichols.
A floor of Hood means a capable depth piece for years to come, and that would be valuable in Chicago. A ceiling of Jarrett means an Akiem Hicks replacement in two seasons. However, a middle standing of Peko, the long-standing run-stuffer may be the most likely bet for Nichols. All scenarios through two seasons are favorable.