Chicago Bears: 5 Defensive players on the bubble heading into camp

Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
5 of 6
Chicago Bears, Duke Shelley
Chicago Bears (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Duke Shelley could be on the Chicago Bears bubble this season

Not many Chicago Bears fans will believe this one, but I could easily see Duke Shelley being on the bubble as the team decides if Thomas Graham, Jr. is a better player to keep on the active roster or not. If Graham is stashed on the practice squad, then Shelley will likely stick around. Shelley was a sixth-round pick in 2019. Graham was a sixth-round pick in 2021. With Jaylon Johnson, Desmond Trufant, Artie Burns and Kindle Vildor locks to make the final roster, I only see one spot available.

In my opinion, it will come down to Shelley or Graham. Shelley has had two years to prove his worth and well, although he has seen time on the field, he has not done enough to guarantee him a roster spot this season. In 2019, Shelley played on one percent of the defensive snaps and 13 percent of the special teams snaps. He did not record a single stat. Last year his snap share increased to 19 percent on defense and 20 percent on special teams.

During 2020, he at least recorded stats, but nothing to get excited about. He played in 11 games, starting two of them. He finished with one pass breakup and 16 combined tackles (nine solos). While on the field, Shelley was targeted 20 times. He allowed 16 of those passes to be completed for an 80 percent completion percentage. He also allowed a touchdown on one of those targets. Quarterbacks averaged a 118.1 QB rating while throwing in his direction.

If Graham, who I honestly think has a better skillset than Shelley, outperforms Shelley at training camp, then Shelley would likely be the odd man out at corner this year.