Expectations for 2018 remain cautiously optimistic at best. However, there is plenty of optimism around the defense, especially after the addition of Roquan Smith to the front seven. Together with Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd and Eddie Goldman, it’s quite a young core they’ve put together. That said, some believe the unit to watch might be the Chicago Bears secondary.

The first evidence of this was in how it played last season. While the group didn’t make a ton of big plays, they did make more than previous years and drastically decreased their mistakes. Forgotten names and young rookies alike stepped up to deliver what Pat Riley used to call a “career-best effort.”

The result was the Bears having their first top 10 defense since 2012 and what many believe to be a sign of even better things to come. A major key to that is whether the secondary can take another step up in their productivity. There is a growing belief this is not only possible but growing more likely.

Bears secondary viewed as the top sleeper in the league

One of the biggest stories of 2018 thus far is the dissolution of the fabled Legion of Booms. The Seattle Seahawks secondary that consisted of stars like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Sherman left for San Francisco. Chancellor is facing retirement. Thomas could get traded at any time.

It’s left some to wonder if there’s a secondary out there who might reach similar heights that group did. There are favorites including the Jaguars, Vikings, Rams, Chargers, and Ravens. Is there a possible sleeper group though? One that might surprise if all the right things happen? Danny Kelly of The Ringer believes so, and the Bears sit atop that list.

“Cornerback Kyle Fuller was the biggest get, signed to a four-year, $56 million extension, and the fifth-year pro will have the chance to show that his breakout performance in 2017 (two picks and 22 passes defensed) was no fluke. Opposite Fuller, reliable veteran Prince Amukamara comes back on a three-year, $27 million deal, and is flanked by promising slot corner Bryce Callahan, who signed a restricted free-agent tender to stay with the team.

Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson look primed to emerge as one of the best young safety duos in the league. The Bears have the foundation for a top-tier unit—a group that finished 10th in DVOA without pressure last season—and they have a chance to prove they belong among the elite in 2018.”

The excitement around this group has to do with three factors:  youth, athleticism and experience. All four primary members are under the age of 30. All also come with substantial athletic chops. Fuller and Amukamara are former first round picks. Amos is a former corner and Jackson was a return man in college.

Then there’s another fact. Last year was the first season they’d played together. If they were able to excel like that without knowing each other too well, imagine how much better they could be when that’s no longer an obstacle.