Chicago Bears will be counting on multiple first and second-year players

Chicago Bears (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bears (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Most teams in the NFL would love to see their rookies contribute in a positive way during their first season, but the Chicago Bears might have to count on quite a few guys this season if they want to make the playoffs. In fact, the team might be looking at multiple players starting if not Week 1, at least at some point during the season.

When a player is drafted in the first round, that player is expected to be a starter right away if not quickly within a season. Some positions allow players to start even more quickly — wide receiver for example. It seems as though even if a wide receiver is drafted in the fourth round, he might see the field right away as the team runs four wide receiver sets. The Chicago Bears saw something similar happen last year with Darnell Mooney.

The Chicago Bears will be counting on three second-year starters

Mooney was a fifth-round pick who worked his way not only onto the field but also into the starting lineup as the second wide receiver on the depth chart. Mooney flashed plenty of potential and due to some poor quarterback play at times, left some stats out on the field. It will be interesting to see how he gels with the likes of Andy Dalton and/or Justin Fields.

Cole Kmet is another second-year player who will be starting this season. Kmet took over the starting job last season while Jimmy Graham moved into the secondary role. As the tight end room has remained somewhat similar to 2020 at this point, Cole Kmet should see an expanded role in 2021. The Chicago Bears will need to see Kmet take a jump up from his 2020 season when he recorded two touchdowns and gained 243 yards.

The player who might have the most pressure on him though this season is Jaylon Johnson. The Chicago Bears had to let Kyle Fuller walk due to salary cap restraints. This was tough to see as Fuller had developed into one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.

Johnson had a solid rookie season, but once again saw a season cut short due to a shoulder injury. Johnson had two surgeries before even making it into the NFL and suffered a season-ending injury to the shoulder during his rookie season. If healthy, there should not be any concerns, but his health could be a major issue for the Chicago Bears not only in 2021 but for years to come.

The Chicago Bears will be counting on multiple rookies this year

With Jaylon Johnson’s injury history, plus the injury history surrounding the cornerback brought in to replace Kyle Fuller — Desmond Trufant — this secondary could be in for a world of hurt should one go down. Even if both are healthy all season, NFL defenses play in the Nickel package often and a third corner is usually on the field. Many believe Kindle Vildor is the first guy to get a crack at the CB3 spot, but do not count out Thomas Graham, Jr. Graham could push Vildor for playing time.

Teven Jenkins is the rookie most likely to start come Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season. As of now, it looks as though Jenkins will be responsible for the quarterback’s blindside. Hopefully, Jenkins will be able to handle the left side in the NFL as he projected as a right tackle. He has the size and ability to go along with some experience too. The hope is there will be a smooth transition as Charles Leno was released and signed with Washington.

Finally, and arguably the most important rookie the Chicago Bears could see make an immediate impact is quarterback Justin Fields.

Personally, I don’t agree with Darius Butler. I have Justin Fields starting by Week 5 of the 2021 NFL Season. I believe Andy Dalton will get the first four games of the year and unfortunately, I do not believe he will show enough to hold onto the top spot. Not to mention, I think Fields will continue to push the coaches into making a switch based on his talent and ability.

Predicting the 2021 offensive starters. dark. Next

This feels like a season full of young promise, as I didn’t even mention Dazz Newsome seeing the field as a rookie. However, it could be that it feels this way because the Bears haven’t had a first-round pick for a couple of years and the team finally had one this offseason. In fact, in 2019, the team didn’t have a first or second-round pick.

The point is, there could be some bumps along the way this year, but hopefully there is enough success to make the playoffs or at least see the promise of the future with this young talent.