The NFL season is right around the corner with teams beginning to map out their expectations for the 2022 season. The early depth charts are beginning to be released and the Chicago Bears are no different. Expectations certainly are not high for the franchise this season as they begin a new era this year. Head Coach Matt Eberflus will have his first season at the helm as he will do his best to turn the organization around. Justin Fields will also enter the season as the full-time starter after getting snaps in 12 games last season. This season will primarily be focused on his development and the evaluation of players around him.
While Fields certainly has the hold on the starting quarterback job, the same cannot be said about the rest of the roster. Following the Bears' release of their first depth chart here are the three most notable takeaways for the organization.
3 biggest surprises from Matt Eberflus' Bears First depth chart of 2022
Equanimeous St. Brown is WR2
It is clear that Darnell Mooney is expected to serve as the number one wide receiver this season, but the rest of the pecking order is seemingly up for grabs. There are a variety of options on the current Bears' roster that each have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Byron Pringle, N'Keal Harry, and Velus Jones Jr can all be assumed to play some sort of role in the passing game this season. However, for the time being, it is clear Equanimeous St. Brown is in line for the WR2 role.
This should not be a major surprise as St. Brown has been one of the early standouts of training camp so far. He has prior knowledge of Luke Getsy’s offense due to the two's time with the Packers. St. Brown is considered to be a reliable red zone target due to his 6'5″ frame and solid strength. In his three seasons in the NFL thus far, the Notre Dame product has tallied 37 receptions for 543 yards. Any sign of chemistry with Justin Fields is a good sign and the duo seems to be getting off on the right foot. Look for Quanimeous St. Brown to continue to cement his role in the offense as training camp continues.
Trevis Gipson leads Al-Quadin Muhammad in EDGE battle
The biggest rushing threat on the Bears is set to be Robert Quinn who earned Pro Bowl honorees and led the team with 18.5 sacks last season. However it has been open competition for who is set to line up on the opposite side as him. Trevis Gipson and Al-Quadin Muhammad are the two most likely candidates to earn minutes. Gipson saw time in 16 games last season and started in nine of them. He tallied 39 total tackles and seven sacks last season. The first depth chart confirms the reports that Gipson has the lead on the position as the season inches closer.
There surely will be enough snaps to go around as Matt Eberflus plans on using a rotation in the defensive line. Al-Quadin Muhammad started all 17 games with the Colts last season where he tallied 48 tackles and six sacks. Mario Edwards is listed as a backup defensive end with fifth-round draft pick Dominique Robinson also set to have an opportunity. If the Bears are set to have any chance of exceeding expectations this year they will need to find production in their defensive line. This depth chart battle is not set to be finished yet so keep an eye on this battle moving forward.
Angelo Blackson listed as starting nose tackle
The rest of the defensive line also has questions surrounding it. Despite second-year pro Khyiris Tonga seeming to be the favorite to win the job, it has been Angelo Blackson who has seen his name on top of the first depth chart. Blackson saw reps in all 17 games last season and started in eight of them. He tallied 43 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his opportunity. In his limited opportunities, Tonga secured just 24 tackles last season. Undrafted rookie Michah Dew-Treadway has also opened some eyes and is expected to be in the mix for snaps this year.
It is clear that there is a great deal of competition going on in Bears' camp. The youthful roster has more questions than answers at this point and things are likely to further change ahead of the regular season. Having this type of competition is exactly what you should hope for given the state of the team. Expect the depth chart to remain fluid but it is great to see some surprising candidates taking advantage of the opportunity early on.