Chicago Bears: 3 rookies who could immensely alter training camp

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Defensive End Bilal Nichols

In the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, the Bears went with a small school defensive lineman with plenty of potential. Bilal Nichols was brought in to learn both the nose tackle and defensive end positions within the Bears’ scheme, in hopes he would be a nice depth piece for the rotation.

But, when you look at who is competing for the other defensive end spot (Akiem Hicks’ counterpart, if you will) you won’t see a name that jumps out. At the moment, it should end up being either Jonathan Bullard or Roy Robertson-Harris. Both of these guys are players the Bears are kind of waiting to break out, but neither have done so thus far.

Once again, this game is all about opportunity. Nichols has the opportunity to come in and make some noise immediately. If Fangio likes what he sees out of him early on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nichols earning a shot to start.

Other than the outside linebacker spot, this is one area the Bears needed to address over the offseason. While they didn’t sign a huge name or address this spot early in the draft, Nichols is a player the Bears believe in and maybe, just maybe, he pans out as a starting-caliber end.

Next: Bears: Early predictions for every defensive starter

Don’t underestimate the important of Nichols learning both the end position as well as nose tackle. The coaching staff liked his strength and versatility coming out of Delaware and think he could potentially fill in at either spot, but maybe he ends up surprising and starting at end.