Projecting the Chicago Bears 53-man roster before preseason game 2

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Chicago Bears, Yannick Ngakoue
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The defensive line of the Chicago Bears will be significantly better this year.

Nine roster spots: DeMarcus Walker, Justin Jones, Andrew Billings, Yannick Ngakoue, Gervon Dexter Sr., Zacch Pickens, Dominique Robinson, Trevis Gipson, Terrell Lewis

There is no sugarcoating it, last year’s defense was awful. The Chicago Bears ranked last in the NFL in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. The defensive line failed to stop the run as the defense ranked next to last in rushing yards allowed.

The pass rush was non-existent. It was so bad that safety Jaquan Brisker led the team in sacks with four. The defensive line combined for just 10.5 sacks.

Poles overhauled the line as he signed free-agent edge rushers DeMarcus Walker and Yannick Ngakoue. He also brought in veteran defensive tackle Andrew Billings to team up with Justin Jones, who is the only player keeping his starting job from last season.

Ngakoue was signed early in camp to a one-year deal and should upgrade the pass rush as he has never had less than eight sacks in a season. Walker had a solid season last year for the Titans. He can kick inside so that is why only four defensive tackles are being projected to make the team.

Gervon Dexter Sr. was taken in the second round in this year’s draft and Pickens was selected in the third round. Dexter Sr. has the skill set to be the team’s future at the three-technique defensive tackle which is considered the engine of the defense. He still must adjust to being asked to straight rush the passer whereas, in college, he was asked to read the play and then react accordingly.

Pickens had a sack against Tennessee and showed he can provide a rush in the quarterback’s face.

Edge rusher Terrell Lewis is having a great camp and racked up two sacks. He was signed after spending three seasons with Los Angeles Rams where he racked up six career sacks. Lewis is 24 and is a much cheaper option than veteran Rasheem Green who was also signed as a free agent in the offseason.

There are two holdovers from last season’s line. Last year’s fifth-round pick, Dominique Robinson will make the team as part of the edge-rushing rotation. He still has loads of potential although he will be sporting a new number.

Trevis Gipson went from one of the starting edge rushers in 2022 to being buried on the first unofficial depth chart. He regressed last season and was looking like he would not make the team.

He took the demotion to heart as he wreaked havoc on the Titans’ offense.

He showed he can generate a pass rush while lining up in the wide-nine spot. The coaching staff and front office value handling adversity. Gipson proved that by being listed last on the edge rushing depth chart and playing a great game. That is why he gets the final spot over Green.

Seventh-round pick Travis Bell and undrafted free agent Jalen Harris have a shot to make the practice squad.