4 Takeaways From Unofficial Depth Chart
The Bears released their first unofficial depth chart of the offseason, and gave fans their first glimpse into who the potential starters might be for the 2021 season. Now take this list with a grain of salt, as there is guaranteed to be some changes between now and the start of the season, but below are some of the more interesting rankings on this first iteration of the depth chart.
Nothing new to report on this front. Just as expected, the Bears have Andy Dalton as the starter, Justin Fields as the backup and Nick Foles in the third slot. There was basically no doubt that Dalton would at least start the offseason as the listed starter, but I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were Andy.
Reports have been almost universally positive for the rookie Fields thus far into his first offseason, and he might have just topped all of it with his performance at the Bears/Dolphins joint practice on Thursday. By almost all accounts, Justin Fields was the best player out there not named Khalil Mack, and he finished the day with a near flawless performance in the redzone drill. Bears and Dolphins writers alike were quick to point out how good Fields has looked, and if he keeps up this momentum through the preseason, I’d be shocked if we don’t end up seeing him as the starter week 1. Those in the know are saying that the Bears brass are warming up the idea more and more, and if he keeps up this level of play, Fields might just force their hand.
Cole Kmet listed as the starting Tight End
This is a good thing for Cole Kmet, who has apparently look great all offseason. He looks to have added some muscle, and spent a decent amount of time training with other top tier tight ends this summer at Tight End University. Seeing him take a step forward would be a huge boost for the offense, and give the Bears legit threats at every skill position. The issue is that the Bears still have Jimmy Graham.
At the beginning of the offseason, many, including myself, pinned Jimmy Graham as a potential cap casualty, due to his fairly lucrative contract, and budding potential of Kmet. Instead, the Bears decided to cut both of their long time starting tackles, and retained Jimmy Graham for the 2021 season.
That move is really starting to look bad. Like really bad.
The Bears offensive line has been by far the weakest unit in camp so far, while the Bears tight end room has been a pleasant surprise. Cole Kmet has looked the part, Jesse James has been turning heads with Justin Fields and the second team, and even Jesper Horsted has made his fair share of plays in camp.
I’m not ringing any alarm bells for the offensive line yet, but if the Bears could go back in time right now and switch Jimmy Graham for Charles Leno, I don’t think they would think twice.
As expected, Kindle Vildor has stepped up to the plate, and this first depth chart release has him listed as the starter opposite Jaylon Johnson on the outside.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure we have any real clarity regarding the battle for the starting position at the slot corner position. The first unofficial depth chart technically doesn’t name a slot starter, but the word has been that Duke Shelley will likely start there come Saturday’s first preseason game. Shelley has been on the team for a couple of years, and likely has performed well enough to start at this point, but it doesn’t really feel like Shelley has won the job per se. This feels like a very fluid situation, and one I expect to change the most as more depth charts come out.
There hasn’t been much word on any one player pulling away in the battle, which is less than ideal. There have been some days where Tre Roberson got praise, and rookie Thomas Graham will likely be given every opportunity to win that job as well, but at the moment, Duke Shelley is the guy in the slot.
Ogletree making an impact
Even though he was only signed less than a month ago, Alex Ogletree has almost assuredly secured himself a roster spot already and is listed at the 3rd ILB on the depth chart.
His string of interceptions in his first few practices was very well documented, raking up 5 or 6 interceptions right out of the gate in camp.
He followed this up by having a really great first preseason game as well. He went out with the starters as Smith and Trevathan were sitting, and was a force from the get go. He was aggressive and down hill against the run, and did well in coverage too. He did give up a big gainer on the first drive through the air, but made up for it with a 4th down stop in the back field later that same drive.
All reports have been that Trevathan has looked to be in good shape so far, but if Ogletree keeps it up, it will be hard to keep him off the field as the season progresses.