Chicago Bears 2021 Season: Staff predictions, breakouts and more

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Category Two: Standout Defensive Player

Roquan Smith (3) – Anish Puligilla, Jordan Campbell, Vinnie Parise

"Why Anish, Jordan, and Vinnie picked Roquan Smith: Missed the NFL’s top 100 players. Barely made the All-Pro 2nd team. Snubbed from most major accolades this offseason following a season in which he was a top-2 linebacker in almost every major stat for linebackers. On top of all that, he’s looking for an extension. Expect big things from Roquan Smith this season – Anish Roquan Smith. That is the answer. The disrespect that has been casted towards Smith from the national media has been unbelievable. Smith deserved the Pro Bowl selection last year and All-Pro recognition, and those are two honors he will get this season. – Jordan This is the year Roquan Smith goes from being an above average linebacker to an elite one. – Vinnie"

Bilal Nichols (1) – Ryan Taylor

"Why Ryan picked Bilal Nichols: Bilal Nichols was one of the few players last season that thrived through the chaos of the failing defense. Last season, Nichols recorded 618 snaps in the 16 games he played and started. During that span, he recorded five sacks and 40 tackles on the line. He added 16 quarterback knowdowns too, constantly applying pressure. Barring any mishaps in the starting line with Akiem Hicks or Eddie Goldman, Nichols will be ready to play. – Ryan Taylor"

Khalil Mack (1) – Ryan Heckman

"Why Ryan picked Khalil Mack: It could be an obvious pick, but I truly believe Khalil Mack will finish with maybe the best numbers of his career this year. Much has been made about his “down” seasons the past two years, and don’t think he can’t hear it all. Mack will finish with a minimum of 14.0 sacks in 2021. – Ryan Heckman"