2014 Depth Chart: Chicago Bears

A look at the depth and quality of each position on the roster for the 2014 Chicago Bears.

| 3 years ago

2014 Depth Chart: Chicago Bears

2014 depth update CHI

[Chart last updated: 7/3/14]


•  I know Matt Forte himself (as well of a lot of Chicago fans) will disagree but we have him as touch under the “high quality” mark. There’s been times in his career he’s certainly been above; in 2011 before injury cut short his year and again, to start 2012, until he got nicked against the Titans and never looked the same guy thereafter. Last year he got a ton of yards but some of that was volume wherein may lay the ultimate problem – he’s simply not that type of player. The third most rushing attempts and receptions may give fantasy players a warm glow but it does nothing for his body and Ka’Deem Carey needs to be good enough to take 25% of the load, not the 12% Michael Bush was given. His receiving in 2013 was top drawer, though, and would have probably swung the deal his way but for his league-worst pass protection grade. Three sacks, two hits and 12 hurries is far too much for anyone and certainly a player of his calibre.

•  You may have already noted that we’ve given Willie Young a higher grade than Jared Allen (who he’ll probably back up at DRE). There is a reason for that and it relates to Allen’s productivity. While he still managed 13 sacks and five batted passes he needed a league-leading 649 pass rush attempts to get them. He’s never shied away from work, but that now looks to be taking its toll and he’s turning into a “volume rusher” – he’ll still get his stats, but only with a lot of attempts. Young, on the other hand, is at the start of his career and has the makings of an extremely good player. Coming back from a disappointing sophomore season to win the starting DLE role, he not only got consistent pressure but held up well against the run too. The trick for Bears DC, Mel Tucker will be getting Allen off the field enough to get Young his snaps. There may be a welcome return on that investment if achieved because while Allen’s Pass Rushing Productivity on the right was 8.0 (good enough for 19th among 4-3 ends), on a small sample size of just over 100 rushes Young managed 14.4, second only to Robert Quinn.

•  None of the big name players remaining on defense (Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings) had good years in 2013 but, kind hearted chaps that we are, we decided they all got some form of pass. For all, their best years are likely in the rear view mirror but that doesn’t mean they haven’t got one or two decent seasons left. Briggs’ year was marred by injury and although he certainly looked rusty on his return there was enough to suggest he’s still got what it takes. Tillman is just one year removed from a truly remarkable season and it defies logic to suggest he could decline so quickly while Jennings isn’t so old that should be a factor. We’ll keep an eye on them all but I’m predicting better years all around if not quite the halcyon ones we’ve come to expect.

Roster Battles

1.  Strongside Linebacker

It may end up simply as the least bad of a poor bunch but there is always a possibility things could go better than that. Since being drafted 19th overall in 2012, to say Shea McClellin has been disappointing would be a significant understatement. In 661 snaps at end last year he only graded positively once (and even that was a marginal +0.7 rating). Enough was enough and they will now try him at SLB where he will compete with Khaseem Greene, a fourth-round rookie of whom much was expected and little was delivered. While his -9.6 grade pales in comparison to McClellin’s -28.2, the fact he “achieved” it in only 236 snaps is noteworthy. I wouldn’t rule out Jon Bostic as an option too. Although he struggled terribly as well, there were at least a few games in which he didn’t look out of place.

2.  Free Safety

You could make an argument that both safety positions are in play but Ryan Mundy has enough experience and ability that he should be able to tie down SS so let’s concentrate on the FS role. Chris Conte is the incumbent but his play last year, particularly in run support may be enough to rule him out quickly. They’ve brought in M.D. Jennings from Green Bay but he made consistent errors in coverage which is hardly a ringing endorsement. This leaves rookie Brock Vereen as a decent bet to start and who’s to say, by seasons end, he won’t have more snaps than first rounder, Kyle Fuller.


Click here to see all of the depth charts we’ve covered.


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil

| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

  • Kris Gehrke

    If you did a little more research, you’d know that Wilson is the favorite to be the WR3 this year, and that the main competition at SLB is McClellin and Bostic. I also think you’re a little unfair on the offensive ratings, considering the points they put up last year.

    • PFF_Neil

      These depth charts are somewhat of a balance between going with what you think may happen and what you think should happen. If there is no definite indication from the team (simply speculation) then I’ll go with who I like personally. In this case we know Hixon is a fine player but have only seen Wilson catch 2 balls in 76 snaps.
      Dave Gettlemen knew Hixon was good which is why he went out and got him but then hadn’t figured in the Ted Ginn resurgence which limited Hixon badly. This year he just couldn’t afford to keep him.
      He’s a talent and this may be the opportunity for him but never underestimate the needs of a GM to make themselves look good by having a 7th rounder come through.

      • Rafael

        I don’t agree but understand the receiver argument. But Kris is right about the SLB. What did Kasheen Greene do last year to make you think he is a SLB? He was a safety turned WLB at Rutgers and that is his best position in my opinion. Also I don’t know where you get that “whom much was expected” part.

        • PFF_Neil

          You are both probably right in that Greene may not get a shout but here’s my logic. If Briggs is injury free, he’s a 100% of snaps type of guy so that only leaves the other side of the field. McClellin has been so poor that’s a long-shot especially considering the position change. Although Greene was a free safety he doesn’t look like much of a cover guy on film and indeed, from a size perspective at least, is very similar to Bostic. If Greene is going to do anything it’s probably run defense so it makes sense (to me at least) to give him a shot.
          Sorry on the “whom much was expected” in hindsight it wasn’t the best phrase to use. It’s a reference to my podcast partner, Greg DePalma, who loved Greene and thought the Bears had a steal. To be fair though “Ourlads” had him rated a second rounder (and higher than Lemonier and Jamie Collins) so he wasn’t alone.

          • Daniel Lawson

            McClellin isn’t a DE anymore so how do you grade him as sam at all? Shouldn’t you put that with a “not enough data” since you have no data to show you how well he may or may not do at Sam or Will… he’s going to get a shot at both… Phil has said this on many occasions. Also I think that Wilson wins his job as 3rd wr based on the fact that he spent much of the offseason with Brandon and Alshon and he has a lot of their traits if a bit more slight of build.

      • Johnny Hatelak

        No you’re off on that. Wilson is a first round talent. He only fell because he had that dust up with a very questionable coach. Marshall took the kid under his wing like he did with Alshon. No Wilson is your third receiver who will likely play flanker in heir 3 WR sets.

        • PFF_Neil

          Thanks for the info Johnny. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

          • Johnny Hatelak

            No prob man. Thanks for taking the info well. Some people would have had red ass about it. I happen to pay very close attention to the Bears and blog about them often so I have the advantage of you. Love the site a ton man. You guys do a great job. Use you guys often to make my points on my blogs, and often link back to your stuff.

    • Jason Williams

      condescend much?

  • Fintasy

    The Bears stole Ka’Deem Carey in the 4th round. He should have no problem exceeding the player he replaced, and even getting more than the 25% of carries PFF recommends.

  • DiscountPCRepair SATX

    I guess being All-Pro qualifies you as an average starter???

    • PFF_Neil

      Who are you referring to? Jared Allen?

      • DiscountPCRepair SATX

        Kyle Long

        • Ryan

          Long wasn’t All Pro, he was an avg guard last year. Only reason anyone knows who he is because of his dad.

  • Jason Williams

    The Bears need 2 or 3 of those rookies to make big time impacts if we’re going to have a decent year.

    And if Fendi Onubun makes the team, I’m turning in my fan card. That guy turned in the worst preseason I’ve ever seen last year.

    • Johnny Hatelak

      I got news for you the Bears are high on Onobun. They proved that by not acquiring a flex TE. The dude is an athletic freak at his size. He’s new to the game. If the Bears worked really hard in the off-season developing him he can be a pretty big surprise. Hands can be worked on. Especially considering he has a huge strong pair of mits.I think it’s just a matter of repetition.

      • Jason Williams

        you’re not buying into the hype are you? Please tell me you saw the pass that he deflected right to the defender for a pick six last preseason and tell me that doesn’t scare the hell out of you.

        • Johnny Hatelak

          I didn’t believe there was a whole lot of hype on Onobun. Unless a hard core Bear fan most wouldn’t even know who he was if they bumped into him on the street. Again like I said hands can be developed. He has all the tools you’d possibly want from a guy, and the Bears seem to think the kid has the work ethic to improve. Emery is huge on that kind of stuff.

          • Wyzel

            Hands are probably the one thing that are impossible to “fix”, troy williamson, ted ginn, legudu neenee, Plenty of guys who are freak athletes, but couldnt catch fire doused in gasoline.

          • CanadaBear

            It’s not impossible. Tim Jennings dropped at least 5 INT’s 3 years ago. In the offseason he used a JUGS machine. The next year he had 9 INT’s and another 4 last year. I’m not saying Onobun will be any good but you can develop hand eye coordination.

      • Saren Arterius

        Onobun is as “new to the game” as Cutler is new to the Bears. Dude got drafted in 2010.

        • Johnny Hatelak

          Yeah but didn’t play football at all till I believe his last season in college. And also didn’t get a whole lot of playing time once he did get drafted. He’s a basketball player. Well was anyway.

  • Johnny Hatelak

    I disagree with a ton of this, but I get why you made these evaluations. Cutler is w/o a doubt better than good. I think this season he stays healthy, and in an offense for a consecutive season. Whenever Jay has had at least two seasons in an offense he’s done very well. In Denver, In Martz’s second season, and even though he DID have a good season last year he will have an exceptional one this season. I also think your evaluation on the linebackers is out of town stupid. No offense but in many cases with football you have to look at circumstances more than just the results. You have to understand how those results occurred. Same goes for the Conte Evaluation. Devastating injuries is what made that defense what it was. Even Conte himself had to play with a shoulder that required surgery which he apparently hurt the year before when he had a good season in 2012, and deceided to play through till this off-season. I dare you to find any rookie tandem of linebackers that would have succeeded under those circumstances, and any safety that would have looked good under those same set of circumstances. That defense had no leadership. They lost their quarterback in Briggs, and DJ Williams was the back up signal caller. Guess what…the rookies didn’t get a whole lot of reps in practices. Especially at signal calling like Jon Bostic was thrust into. Of course he sucked. Not only did he have to compete physically at a higher level but he now ad to call a defense and worry about other players roles. Conte was simply bombarded with Guards and TE’s and FB’s getting to the second level like a rock goes trough wet toilet paper. I don’t think any player would hold up against that assault. Name a safety in the league, or even history missing 5 starters, and than their backups and 3 of them pro bowlers playing with 5 rookies or first year players like Isaiah Frey, and guys off the street like Lyndsey Cohen. Yes Lyndsey freakin’ Cohen. Bet you don’t even know who the hell that is? I know I sure didn’t. I was watching the Bears one day and there he was, and I was like WTF is this?

    • Saren Arterius

      I dunno how McClellin can get a “poor” grade as a 4-3 linebacker based on his awful DE grades when “not enough information” is an actual category. He’s never played linebacker in the pros. If you lined up Brian Urlacher at DE, he would have sucked too. Kyle Long and Jordan Mills seem to be getting projected on the assumption they won’t improve over their rookie years. I sort of get the lack of faith in Mills (even though Kromer intentionally routes pressure outside), but Long made the Pro Bowl, and I know by itself that doesn’t mean much, but it means his rapid development from a fairly raw prospect was noticed.

    • PFF_Neil

      I think you are right about Conte. Within the context of his injury and his previous reasonable season “poor” is too harsh.
      With regard to Cohen, no I’ve never heard of Lyndsey but Landon I do know. 😉 . He started off as an acceptable rotational DT for the Lions back in 2008 but has bounced around the league since and didn’t play in ’12. He wasn’t a total disaster last year except in the Baltimore game when the Ravens interior (and it wasn’t all Yanda by any means) ate him alive.

      • Johnny Hatelak

        LOL! Sorry. I did it twice too. Guess I still didn’t really know who he was. haha!

  • Torrence

    I am pretty sure Anthony Walters is no longer in the Chicago organization.

  • Daniel Lawson

    Tillman was a force up till his injury… if that DL can do what I think it can then I think that secondary comes back to near elite levels of 2012

  • Jubair

    damn, all that money for an average DE? lol

  • Tom

    Cutler is barely a top 15 QB, Forte is arguably a top 5 back. Surely they can’t be rated the same?!

  • Jonathon Hero

    Seeing as how I love a few meatballs with my football, I’m unable to ignore the fact that PFF seems committed to the idea that Eddie Lacy is a better RB than Matt Forte.

    No. No. No.

    Not by the eye test, not by the stat test. The fact that Lacy was a non-factor against Chicago’s vomit-inducing run defense in week 17 (despite the fact that the Bear’s were doing everything they could (not much) to stop Rodgers) is, by itself, enough proof that he was a nice rookie, but nowhere near Forte’s level.

  • Samuel M Wotzka

    Pretty sure you need some more of those names bolded. Briggs, Tillman, Jennings, Williams, and Gould are all over 30 years of age.

  • M Spak

    Hello, Fendi Onobun is gone. And I don’t see how you rate Leno above Brown at guard.

  • KB

    Hm. I’m sure my fandom is getting in the way but if Ratliff and Williams are healthy and 100% all year I’d say they are at LEAST good starters. And how is Allen not a good starter?!?!?! When has double digit sacks EVERY year become average? I guess being a pro-bowl Guard makes you an average guard… Kyle Long. Ka’deem Carey IS the backup behind Forte, and he’ll likely be a beast. Guy looks and plays like LeSean McCoy. I think Carey could be the future…. especially in a Trestman offense that is west coast by nature, but it also means a ton of shotgun plays. Carey’s INSANE success in Arizona is credited because it was a read-option offense. With trestman though there are a lot of draw plays for RBs, which is kind of like a read option, but is designed to be a sole run play, but a simple modification can change it to a read option. Cutler can drop back look to throw, if he spots a open WR he can throw, especially if they’re blitzing, or drop back see the LBs dropped back to zone and then hand the ball off to who will eventually be Carey and he can run and shake off and bounce off tacklers for a 15+ yard gain. The kid is a beast. People passed on him because of some off the field issues and his 40 time, which is such a lame measureable at the combine, of 4.69. He did a little better on his pro day and ran a 4.66 40. Is that the ideal 4.4 dash? no, but guys like McCoy ran a 4.5, Morris a 4.6+, and LAcy a 4.64….. all these guys don’t seem to be hindered by these “bad” 40 times. I don’t get why the 40 gets such attention. RBs have been proving 40 times to be irrelevant for years. I believe Emmitt Smith ran a 4.8 at his combine. People also knock Carey’s 5’9″ or 5’10” frame (depending on the site you’re on he’s listed as both) and 207-210 lbs. People say he doesn’t have ideal size, but that is about the size of a majority of RBs in the league. Emmitt Smith was 5’9″ and weighed 210 when he entered the league. Walter Payton was 5’10” and only 200 lbs. Jamaal Charles is a “tiny” 5’11” 199 lbs. The knocks on his size and 40 time are unwarranted. His only knock is maybe his off the field issues of getting in trouble. That can be changed though fairly easily with the right mentorship, and Forte will be a great mentor. If Cutler can stay healthy all year this team is going to be a force in 2014.

    • KB

      Now I know I rambled on how great Carey will be or how great I think he will be, but I’m not saying he should be labeled as a “good starter.” All I’m saying is he should be listed as the backup….. not Shaun Draughn…. who?

    • Perception

      Yes, Allen had 13 sacks, but he also played 1070 other snaps last year. Frankly, his total pressure numbers were below average considering the amount of snaps he played. There’s also a whole paragraph above with their explanation.
      18 hits, 34 hurries, 677 pass rush snaps
      8.0 Pass Rush Productivity
      That said, being used in a rotation with Houston/Young might help his effectiveness.

      And everyone knows Pro-Bowl bids are a joke. He wasn’t even the best guard on his team. There were several guards more deserving than him.