Chicago Bears: Way-too-early prediction of 2021 Week 1 defensive starters

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Akiem Hicks
Chicago Bears (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports) /

These defensive linemen are most likely to start Week 1 for the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears’ defensive line saw a big change in 2020 when Eddie Goldman decided to opt-out of the season due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. There was a bit of a scare that Goldman was not going to return as he unexpectedly skipped the Bears mandatory minicamp in June. Goldman’s absence was not excused, but rumors are that he plans to be back for training camp on July 27, 2021.

This is a good thing because the Chicago Bears struggled against the run often in 2020. This brings us to who is most likely to start for the Bears in Week 1 against the Rams. The Chicago Bears operate out of a base 3-4 defense, but they honestly operate with many personnel formation packages. This includes the rotation of many of their defensive linemen to keep players fresh. However, three guys stand out as the clear favorite to start.

Starting Nose Tackle: Eddie Goldman

With Eddie Goldman back, this defensive front should go back to being one of the best in the league. Goldman is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the game.

Starting Defensive Ends: Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols

Akiem Hicks has not been himself the last two seasons. He struggled with injuries both years and did not fill up the stat sheet as he normally does. That said, the hope here is that he bounces back despite the fact he is going to be 32 in November. Bilal Nichols is on the other end of the spectrum as he will only be 25 this season and is coming off his best year statistically. Nichols finished 2020 with a career-high, five sacks. He also had seven tackles for loss, three pass deflections and even an interception.

The first up in the rotation is going to be Mario Edwards, Jr. Like Bilal Nichols, Edwards also had a career year in sacks with four. The depth behind him is a little murkier this season with Brent Urban now with the Dallas Cowboys, but there are a few guys with upside who will battle out the final roster spot or two.