The defense of the Chicago Bears should improve as a whole as well.
Five roster spots: T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Jack Sanborn (would be starting SAM linebacker if used), Noah Sewell, Mykal Walker
T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds were Poles’ biggest free-agent signings. Edwards will most likely man the middle linebacker (MIKE position) spot while Edmunds will play the weak side (WILL position) spot. In the rare times the Chicago Bears go with their base defense and need a third linebacker on the strong side (SAM position), Jack Sanborn appears to have that spot.
Noah Sewell was selected in the fifth round and is having a great camp. He could push Sanborn for the SAM linebacker spot. Dylan Cole appeared to be the fifth linebacker, but then the Chicago Bears claimed Mykal Walker off waivers.
The Atlanta Falcons surprisingly cut Walker this week after having a solid season as a starter in 2022.
The Chicago Bears have the first waiver claim spot, so they are taking advantage of that by bringing in Walker. That is why it would not be out of the question for a lot of these projections to be off as Ryan Poles continues to have first dibs at players on the waiver wire through the preseason.
Six roster spots: Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, Terrell Smith, Jaylon Jones, Michael Ojemudia
The secondary is the strength of the defense. Jaylon Johnson is the best cover corner in the game. His problem is he does not take the ball away. Although, some of that could be attributed to teams not throwing his way that much since the corner opposite of him struggled.
Johnson is set to be a free agent after this season, so if he wants to cash in big, he will need to stay healthy and get some interceptions. He should have some chances as the cornerback room was upgraded via the draft and experience.
Tyrique Stevenson was taken in the second round and showed in the first preseason game that he should be the starter opposite of Johnson. He is very good in press coverage, but he will need to improve in zone coverage.
Stevenson’s presence allows last year’s second-round pick, Kyler Gordon to move to nickel. He had a typical rookie season where he had some good moments and some bad ones. In the first preseason game, he came out being physical and laying the wood in his tackling.
Fifth-round draft pick Terrell Smith is having a great camp. He was pushing Stevenson for the starting job but missed the first preseason game with an injury. Jaylon Jones is good on special teams, so he will make the team for that reason.
Michael Ojemudia was selected over Josh Blackwell and Greg Stroman Jr. based on having a strong first preseason game. You could swap him with Blackwell and Stroman Jr. as the two are having good camps and can also contribute on special teams.
Getting contributions on special teams contributions is what the Chicago Bears will need the final corner who makes the team to do.
Kindle Vildor was the starting outside corner opposite Jaylon Johnson. Injuries, inconsistency, and better depth have buried Vildor on the depth chart and will most likely have him getting cut.
Five roster spots: Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, Elijah Hicks, A.J. Thomas, Adrian Colbert
Eddie Jackson had a career renaissance thanks to Jaquan Brisker’s rookie season. The heavy-hitting Brisker allowed Jackson to go back to being the ball-hawking safety that made him an All-Pro in his first two seasons. It was a shame Eddie’s season was cut short by a season-ending injury.
Hicks was a seventh-round pick last year who showed he can contribute on special teams. A.J. Thomas and Adrian Colbert can also play on special teams. They both created turnovers against the Titans as well and the coaching staff loves that.
This year’s seventh-round pick Kendall Williamson is a prime candidate for the practice squad.
Three roster spots: Trenton Gill, Cairo Santos, Patrick Scales
Punter Trenton Gill and kicker Cairo Santos briefly had some off-season competition before the team decided to go with these two for the season.
Patrick Scales is back again as the long-snapper.