The 2016 season has officially hit the books, and it was another dreadful season for the Chicago Bears. Plagued by injuries and suspensions, they couldn’t have asked for a more chaotic year. However, there were a couple of bright spots in the midst of the 3-13 team. One of them in particular was the team’s rookie class. They found three players that are capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level, which is huge for a rebuilding team like the Bears. Let’s take a look at how each rookie did this year.
For reference, here’s an article I made back in June with my predictions on how each rookie would do statistically.
1st Round: Leonard Floyd, OLB
2016 Stats: 12 G, 12 GS, 33 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 FF, 1 safety, 1 TD
Leonard Floyd surprised a lot of people this year, myself included. Although he suffered two concussions, he was a dominant force in nearly every game he played this year. He became the speedy, athletic pass rusher that the Bears so desperately needed. If all goes well, Floyd will be a key piece of their defense for years to come.
2nd Round: Cody Whitehair, C
2016 Stats: 16 G, 16 GS
General manager Ryan Pace put his draft wizardry on display back in April when he traded back in the second round twice and still managed to land a great player in Cody Whitehair. The Kansas State product stepped in at center when Hroniss Grasu tore his ACL in the offseason. And boy, was he impressive. PFF ranked him as the 6th-best center in the entire league this year. He proved that he is capable of becoming one of the league’s best centers sooner rather than later. Along with a healthy Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, Whitehair could be the anchor of an elite interior offensive line next year.
3rd Round: Jonathan Bullard, DE
2016 Stats: 14 G, 1 GS, 18 tackles, 1 sack
Jonathan Bullard was thought to have been an absolute steal, but his 2016 performance didn’t love up to those expectations. He only played in 27.63% of defensive snaps this year, which is a much lower count than many expected. It’s too early to come to any conclusions, but Bullard didn’t have a good year by any means this year.
4th Round: Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB
2016 Stats: 14 G, 7 GS, 42 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF
Nick Kwiatkoski played a much bigger role than many expected for the Bears this year. The Mountaineer started in seven games due to Danny Trevathan’s injury and Jerrell Freeman’s suspension. Not only did he start in those games, but he looked solid in them, too. He could be a solid starter when Freeman starts declining.
Power Rankings: Playoff addition
QB Rankings: Who’s riding highest into the playoffs?
4th Round: Deon Bush, S
2016 Stats: 11 G, 6 GS, 21 tackles
As I predicted back in June, Deon Bush did end up starting a few games this year for the Bears. Granted, the safety spot alongside Adrian Amos still isn’t fixed, but Bush proved that he can be a solid depth piece.
4th Round: Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa
2016 Stats: 8 G, 7 tackles
Deiondre’ Hall’s rookie season was plagued by injuries, but he looked solid in the limited snaps that he played on. He was always more of a development piece, so expectations for him weren’t all that high this year.
5th Round: Jordan Howard, RB
2016 Stats: 15 G, 252 carries, 1,313 rushing yards, 6 TDs, 29 catches, 298 receiving yards, 1 TD
There’s a reason that we named Jordan Howard the Offensive Player of the Year in our Bears awards article. Not much can be said about him that hasn’t already been said. Barring an extreme turn of events, Howard will be the Bears’ star running back for years to come.
6th Round: DeAndre Houston-Carson, S
2016 Stats: 7 G
I was pretty high on DeAndre Houston-Carson during the draft process, but he wasn’t a factor on the Bears’ defense. In fact, he was a healthy scratch in most of the team’s games this year. He’s going to need to improve over the offseason if he wants to stick around next year.
7th Round: Daniel Braverman, WR
2016 Stats: 3 G
Daniel Braverman’s highlight of the year was a catch that got called back because of a penalty. He started off the year on the practice squad, so he didn’t get much of a chance to play. Still, Braverman was viewed as someone who could compete for Eddie Royal’s slot receiver job. We haven’t seen that out of him yet.