The Chicago Bears roster projection for the final 53 is coming into focus. Normally things start to settle into how they will be at the end of August after the third preseason game. The team has already played two. Their third will come against the Colts this week and likely should decide any of the remaining question marks they may have. That will leave the finale for players unlikely to make the roster to have their chance to audition for other teams around the league.

Knowing what we know, here’s a look at how the final 53 should play out. Barring injuries, of course.

Chicago Bears roster projection

Quarterback:
  1. Mitch Trubisky
  2. Chase Daniel

The Bears feel they have two solid options at the top of their depth chart. Trubisky is the obvious starter and nobody is going to move Daniel out of the backup job. It’s a matter of whether Tyler Bray will be held as a 3rd string option. The team didn’t do this last year. Bray was only brought in after Trubisky was injured in order to back up Daniel. It’s likely the team wishes to use that extra spot at one of the deeper positions.

Running back:
  1. David Montgomery
  2. Tarik Cohen
  3. Mike Davis
  4. Kerrith Whyte

This position is considerably deeper and more versatile than it was last season. Every single one of the names listed above can both run with the ball and make catches out of the backfield. It’s the sort of diversity Nagy didn’t have last season with Jordan Howard and fullback Michael Burton. Montgomery looks like a potential every-down back. Cohen is a gadget nightmare and David is a highly underrated rotational option. Whyte will provide speed options on both offense and special teams.

Tight end:
  1. Trey Burton
  2. Adam Shaheen
  3. Ben Braunecker
  4. Bradley Sowell

This can’t be called a position of strength for the Bears. Burton is a good receiving option and underrated blocker. He’s also shown difficulty with staying healthy. Shaheen still has loads of upside and has shown flashes of ability. Health is also a problem for him. Braunecker has pass catching prowess and has become a capable special teams player. Sowell ends up with the final spot mostly because he is the best (only) blocker they have at that position.

Wide receiver:
  1. Allen Robinson
  2. Anthony Miller
  3. Taylor Gabriel
  4. Javon Wims
  5. Cordarrelle Patterson
  6. Riley Ridley

Some have speculated the Bears might flirt with the idea of carrying seven receivers. After two preseason games though, such questions were put to bed. Marvin Hall is a nice deep threat but he offers little else. Chicago has a solid starting trio in Robinson, Miller, and Gabriel with Wims ascending rapidly. Ridley also has a good mixture of size and route running skill that should get him on the field quickly. Patterson will be their kick return ace and a primary gadget option for Nagy to tinker with.

Offensive line:
  1. Charles Leno Jr.
  2. Cody Whitehair
  3. James Daniels
  4. Kyle Long
  5. Bobby Massie
  6. Ted Larsen
  7. Alex Bars
  8. Rashaad Coward
  9. Free agent pickup

The starting five for the Bears is set in stone and should remain that way barring injuries. Where they need more clarity is in the reserve areas. Larsen and Bars seem like strong options on the interior. One is a quality veteran with experience at guard and center. The other is a talented undrafted free agent with significant upside. It’s at tackle where the team needs answers. Coward is an unknown due to his recent injury and Cornelius Lucas showed in New York that he is a liability. That’s why it won’t be a surprise if the team brings in outside help.

Defensive line:
  1. Akiem Hicks
  2. Eddie Goldman
  3. Bilal Nichols
  4. Roy Robertson-Harris
  5. Nick Williams
  6. Jonathan Bullard

Don’t expect any surprises on the defensive line. Chicago is stronger than any other position on the roster here. They have four guys who can legitimately start for them on Sundays in Hicks, Goldman, Nichols, and Robertson-Harris. That is a major luxury they no doubt will exploit. Williams and Bullard are quality reserves who should be capable fill-ins to give those guys some extra rest during games.

Outside linebacker:
  1. Khalil Mack
  2. Leonard Floyd
  3. Aaron Lynch
  4. James Vaughters
  5. Free agent pickup

This is a talent of two halves. The top of the Bears outside linebacker position is in excellent shape. Mack is a superstar and Floyd, if healthy, can be a more than adequate #2 guy on the opposite edge. Lynch was a decent reserve last year. Vaughters is an unexpected surprise from Canada who appears to have some playmaking skill. Nobody else though has stood out. That is why it is a reasonable bet that the team may add somebody during the final cuts after the preseason ends.

Inside linebacker:
  1. Roquan Smith
  2. Danny Trevathan
  3. Nick Kwiatkoski
  4. Joel Iyiegbuniwe

Smith has the look of a potential future All-Pro. Trevathan is an underrated and valued veteran leader. Kwiatkoski and Iyiegbuniwe are both solid backups who offer value on special teams. This is a pretty good group that doesn’t need much tweaking. It’s possible the Bears may favor Josh Woods for his athletic upside but it doesn’t feel like he’s done quite enough to unseat Kwiatkoski from his spot on the roster.

Cornerback:
  1. Kyle Fuller
  2. Prince Amukamara
  3. Buster Skrine
  4. Duke Shelley
  5. Kevin Toliver
  6. Clifton Duck

Fuller and Amukamara look poised to pick up right where they left off last season. Skrine caught a lot of flak when he was signed in March. That has changed since he started making more and more plays in practice. The team remains confident in him as the slot corner. Duke Shelley has a lot of upside and will continue to hone his craft as a backup. The big question mark is Toliver. He hasn’t really stood out, so his sticking on the roster is more because nobody has stepped up to take the spot. Duck has ballhawking skill that is worth exploring further.

Safety:
  1. Eddie Jackson
  2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
  3. Deon Bush
  4. Sherrick McManis

There should be more excitement around the pairing of Jackson and Clinton-Dix. People don’t understand how much better the ballhawking skill just got at safety for the Bears defense. Bush has also made significant strides this year and it’s showed in training camp. It was a bit unusual at first, but the moving of McManis to safety was a nice idea. He’s getting a bit older now so it’s a natural progression. Plus it allows them to use his customary cornerback spot on somebody else without losing his special teams value.

Specialists:
  1. Pat O’Donnell
  2. Patrick Scales
  3. Eddy Pineiro

Several people remain certain that the Bears will ultimately make a move at kicker before the season begins. However, it’s important to remember something. They traded for Pineiro. That meant the team liked him enough to do so. Now he’s the last man standing in the competition. All he has to do is make the majority of his kicks over the next two weeks and the job is his. O’Donnell seems poised for a career year and Scales remains steady at snapper.

Practice squad hopefuls:
  • Josh Caldwell (RB)
  • Thomas Ives (WR)
  • Ian Bunting (TE)
  • Sam Mustipher (OL)
  • Daryle Banfield (DE)
  • Chuck Harris (OLB)
  • Josh Woods (ILB)
  • Stephen Denmark (CB)

The Bears roster is at such a point where the practice squad will likely be used for almost entirely players who failed to crack the final 53. Caldwell, Ives, and Bunting are all young offensive skill players with significant upside. Harris has stood out the most among the rookie edge rusher additions. Woods is somebody they should keep around since his odds of making the team will be higher next year. As for Denmark, though he’s a draft pick he hasn’t done enough to warrant him taking a roster spot.