The Chicago Bears made a number of changes to their roster this offseason. An unsurprising development after such a disappointing performance in 2019. GM Ryan Pace did everything he could to upgrade the defense and overhaul the offense. Robert Quinn gave a boost to the pass rush. Nick Foles arrived to push Mitch Trubisky at QB while Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet hopefully upgrade the tight end position.
Ted Ginn Jr. and Darnell Mooney also add more speed to the receiving corps. So there’s plenty to like about what the Bears have done. That being said, it won’t be enough by itself. In order for the team to get back into the playoff picture, they’ll need guys who are already on the roster to step up their game from where it was last season. Not just the star players like Allen Robinson or Khalil Mack. Everybody.
To that end, here’s a question worth asking. Who are some role players on the roster who people might’ve forgotten in the past couple of months that have a good chance to contribute more than expected?
Chicago Bears have lots of intriguing depth options
Jesper Horsted (TE)
Nobody saw the kid from Princeton being a factor in 2019. That is until he delivered some highlight-reel catches in the preseason, proving he had receiving chops the Bears badly needed at tight end. He didn’t actually get on the field until the final six games of last season but still managed eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Despite the arrivals of Kmet and Graham, Horsted still has a chance to carve out his own niche in the offense. Especially if he embraces an expanded role as an H-back.
Alex Bars (OG)
Right guard is the only open job on the offensive line going into this season. Most expect it to be a battle between Rashaad Coward, who filled that role for most of last season, and new arrival Germain Ifedi. A former 1st round pick from Seattle. Alex Bars has become somewhat of an afterthought. This despite such a promising preseason last year and the Bears working so hard to keep him from leaving for the Patriots. He’s now fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his college career. Don’t ignore him. He has blocking chops.
Bilal Nichols (DE)
The hype train was ready to take off for Nichols after such a promising rookie season that saw him collect three sacks and a number of big plays in the backfield. Then things kind of fizzled out last year, due in large part to him breaking his hand in the second game of the year. He was never quite himself after that. Now healthy and guaranteed single blocks pretty much all season due to the presence of Mack, Quinn, and Akiem Hicks, he is poised to pick up where things left off two years ago.
Kevin Toliver (CB)
Perhaps no position group saw more action this offseason than cornerback. It started with Tre Roberson arriving from the CFL. He was quickly joined by Artie Burns in free agency and then both Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor in the draft. This has made it easy to forget Kevin Toliver is still on the roster. The 24-year old filled in admirably for Prince Amukamara last season but his coverage wasn’t consistent enough to warrant handing him the job outright. That said, he’s still in a position to compete for the job and has the talent to win it.