The Chicago Bears defense showed a lot of promise in 2016. With cornerstone players like Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd emerging and young players showing promise such as Cre’von Leblanc, Nick Kwiatkowski, and Deiondre’ Hall, they have a lot of young pieces. If all goes well, they could blossom into a top 10 defense in 2017.
Many Bears fans are excited to see how the cornerback position will play out. Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller will all fight for starting roles. Cre’Von Leblanc and Bryce Callahan will also battle it out for the slot role. Just like many Bears fans, I am shocked that Ryan Pace did not pick up any corners in the draft. However, that shows how confident that Ryan Pace is in his coaching staff and his defensive backs.
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I think that Prince Amukamara can evolve into one of the better cover corners in this league under Vic Fangio. Amukamara has often been overshadowed by other corners such as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jalen Ramsey, but he has quietly been an effective corner year after year. He is coming off a down year with the Jaguars, recording no interceptions and only 46 tackles, but the upside is clearly there. Marcus Cooper won over the hearts of Bears fans by writing a letter to organization shortly after being signed. Cooper is the corner that arguably has the biggest upside of them all. Cooper intrigues me because he has played alongside Patrick Peterson. Cre’Von Leblanc went through many hot and cold streaks throughout the season. If he can become a more consistent player, he can play the slot role for years to come.
In terms of safeties, I think that Quentin Demps and Eddie Jackson end up starting this year. Adrian Amos can become a better player after learning from Demps, but I think Jackson will take his starting spot. Expect Jackson to play centerfield and have a very impactful first year.
The Bears’ starting front-seven is among the best in the league. Our starting defensive line of Eddie Goldman, Jaye Howard, and Akiem Hicks is amazing. Eddie Goldman shows a lot of upside, but has been injured often. Jaye Howard is awesome at run stopping and his contracted was structured greatly. Also, Akiem Hicks had a breakout year last year. I would highly recommend that Pace lock up Akiem Hicks before he hits the open market and his price goes up.
Chicago’s stellar pass rush includes Pernell McPhee, Leonard Floyd, Willie Young, and Lamarr Houston. This pass rush is set up to be dangerously effective, and they should be able to keep people fresh with ample depth. Finally, our inside linebackers should be solid with Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. Along with those two, we have second-year player Nick Kwiatkowski who could blossom into a starter in a few years.
All in all, Bears fans should be excited because a defense that made a lot of strides last year should continue to improve under coach Vic Fangio.