Yes, it’s time for every Bears fans favorite game show: Let’s name this year’s final 53-man roster before the team does.
No, Ryan Pace and Co. aren’t consulting with me — and I don’t pretend to have any extra sensory perception at all.
But if you’ve been paying attention, you have a pretty good idea of who’s staying and who’s going.
Where we run into trouble at the end is with the numbers game.
For instance, can the Bears afford the luxury of a fifth running back or seventh wideout with the injury and depth concerns they have on the offensive line?
Would they rather have an extra pass rusher, run stuffer or cornerback?
Will they go with quantity over uncertainty at tight end?
Those are some of the questions only Pace and Matt Nagy can answer, but here are the answers I believe they’ll arrive at:
Quarterback (2): Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel
Running Back (4): Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery, Mike Davis, Kerrith Whyte
Wide Receiver (6): Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley
Tight End (4): Adam Shaheen, Trey Burton, Ben Braunecker, Bradley Sowell
Offensive Line (8): Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Kyle Long, Bobby Massie, Ted Larsen, Alex Bars, Rashaad Coward
Defensive Line (5): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard
Inside Linebacker (4): Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkoski, Kevin Pierre-Louis
Outside Linebacker (4): Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, Isaiah Irving
Safety (3): Eddie Jackson, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush
Cornerback (5): Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Buster Skrine, Kevin Toliver II, Duke Shelley
Specialists (3): Eddy Pineiro, Patrick Scales, Patrick O’Donnell
That’s your first 48, and the only four I wouldn’t bet the house on are Whyte, Sowell, Coward and Shelley, but it really feels like they’re safe.
For all his great measureables, Whyte went down awfully easy in Indy Saturday night, and Sowell is clearly a slimmed-down tackle playing tight end.
But Whyte’s high ceiling and Sowell’s blocking should save them.
That leaves these 13 players — RB Ryan Nall, WR Marvin Hall, TEs Ian Bunting, Dax Raymond, OT Cornelius Lucas, DT Nick Williams, LBs Josh Woods, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, and DBs John Franklin II, Michael Joseph, Clifton Duck, DeAndre Houston Carson and Sherrick McManis — on the bubble and battling for the final five roster spots.
I can’t see how Nall isn’t an easy choice, possibly even over Mike Davis and Whyte, but he doesn’t fit the mold Nagy is looking for in his running backs.
Still, he’s too good to try and hide on the practice squad again, and they don’t have a fullback this year, so a fifth running back isn’t a stretch. Nall in.
I also believe the Bears are going to carry a fifth tight end, but I can’t decide who they appear to like more, Bunting or Raymond?
It feels like maybe they’ve been hiding Raymond a bit perhaps in the hopes of getting him on the practice squad, so let’s assume either Sowell goes and they both stay or Bunting gets the fifth spot.
I believe Cody Whitehair, with Larsen sliding into his guard spot if necessary, is their insurance at left tackle, and then Bars. But Lucas has been awful in exhibition games, so I think they bite the bullet here and start the season with just eight.
Williams has had a good camp and just five D-linemen is awfully risky, so let’s make him number 51.
The last two spots look to me to be between five players.
Houston-Carson and Franklin III should get them.
The team needs a fourth true safety, and that is clearly Houston-Carson, and over the course of the summer and full training camp, JFIII has been the third best boundary corner on the team.
It’s been obvious for a while the Bears really like Woods, and though LB play for him may still be a year or two off, he could be a special-teams demon.
They will try and get Woods to the practice squad.
The last two off appear to me to be McManis and Hall.
There is just too much talent at defensive back in front of McManis, and Hall doesn’t offer enough to justify a seventh wideout, leaving the team short in the secondary.
The two veterans will be missed, but nobody will ever claim life in the NFL is fair.