Early Predictions for the Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster

Ross Read@@RossReadContributor IIIMay 11, 2015

Early Predictions for the Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster

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    With the draft in the books, the Chicago Bears now have their full set of players they will bring to training camp. A few more minor moves might be made between now and then, but it's time to start focusing on who might make this team.

    The team is making a transition to a 3-4 defense. This means some guys are going to have to step up and play a different position for the first time in their career.

    It also means more linebackers will be kept on the roster and cuts are going to have to be made elsewhere to compensate.

    On offense, running back, offensive line and tight end are areas to pay attention to. How many backs, linemen and tight ends are kept on the roster will be interesting as new offensive coordinator Adam Gase instills his philosophy.

    Head coach John Fox will have plenty of tough calls to make, but we wanted to take an early look at who could make this team. Here's our early prediction for the opening-day roster.

Quarterback

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    Projected Depth Chart

    QB 1: Jay Cutler

    QB 2: Jimmy Clausen

    The Bears have so many other needs on the roster that it's tough right now to see them using an extra roster spot on David Fales or undrafted rookie Shane Carden.

    Cutler will be the starter with Clausen as the backup. If any guy gets hurt, then we might see either Fales or Carden on the roster. Both Fales and Carden will be in an open competition to see who gets to stick around on the practice squad.

Running Back

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    Projected Depth Chart

    RB 1: Matt Forte

    RB 2: Ka'Deem Carey

    RB 3: Jeremy Langford

    RB 4: Jacquizz Rodgers 

    As of right now, Jacquizz Rodgers makes this team because of what he can do on special teams. He will remain a fringe player who will really have to force the Bears into keeping him as a fourth back, but he certainly can do it.

    He's not a better between-the-tackles back than Ka'Deem Carey, while Jeremy Langford has more upside as a receiver and blocker on third down.

    Carey should bounce back from a rough rookie season. His style fits well into what John Fox and Adam Gase want to do, which is grind out yards between the tackles and chew up time.

    Matt Forte will still get a ton of touches, but look for the Bears to use Carey and Langford more as they rest Forte and get a good look at what they have for the future.

Wide Receiver

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    Projected Depth Chart

    WR 1: Alshon Jeffery

    WR 2: Kevin White

    WR 3: Eddie Royal

    WR 4: Marquess Wilson

    WR 5: Marc Mariani

    In the past, the Bears have kept six receivers on the roster, but that likely changes this year. With the 3-4 scheme coming, the team needs too many other extra bodies in the front seven to keep a sixth receiver.

    Look for the Bears to get back to running the ball consistently, so they will be in a lot of two-tight end sets and will very rarely have more than three receivers on the field at a time.

    The top three names aren't very surprising.

    Alshon Jeffery now has to step up and be the man, but he'll get some help from first-round pick Kevin White. Eddie Royal fits in perfectly in the slot and Marquess Wilson offers value as a sub on the inside or outside.

    Marc Mariani was a surprising bright spot when he joined the team late last year. He provides stability and experience in the return game and should be the favorite to win the job again. He might split time with Jacquizz Rodgers, but Mariani's role on this team is strictly as a return man.

Tight End

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    Projected Depth Chart

    TE 1: Martellus Bennett

    TE 2: Zach Miller

    TE 3: Dante Rosario

    TE 4: Bear Pascoe

    There's no fullback on the roster, so keeping four tight ends makes a ton of sense. Bear Pascoe is a guy who can line up on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield as a lead blocker.

    Zach Miller gives the Bears a ton of value as another receiving tight end. You might remember his strong start to training camp and the preseason last year before suffering a season-ending foot injury in a preseason game against Jacksonville.

    Dante Rosario has been relegated to blocking duties but might see some touches in this new offense. Martellus Bennett returns as one of the league's best tight ends. He will look to have a statement year while in search of a new contract.

Offensive Line

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    Projected Depth Chart

    LT: Jermon Bushrod

    LG: Matt Slauson

    C: Hronnis Grasu

    RG: Kyle Long

    RT: Jordan Mills

    Reserve Tackles: Charles Leno, Tayo Fabuluje

    Reserve Guards: Michael Ola, Vladimir Ducasse

    Reserve Center: Will Montgomery

    Barring injury, the only concern on this Bears offensive line is at right tackle. It's going to be interesting to see if Jordan Mills can bounce back after a subpar sophomore campaign.

    Will Montgomery is a veteran center who's played under John Fox, but the team didn't draft Hronnis Grasu in the third round to see him ride the bench. Grasu will have every chance to win the starting role and will likely take full advantage.

    Kyle Long is emerging as one of the league's best guards and the face of the franchise. Matt Slauson is very steady at the other guard spot and Jermon Bushrod remains a very serviceable left tackle.

    There's a good mix of youth and depth on the bench here for the Bears. Vladimir Ducasse has started 11 games in his career, and it will be interesting to see how sixth-round pick Tayo Fabuluje shakes out.

Defensive Line

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    Projected Depth Chart

    LDE: Jay Ratliff

    NT: Eddie Goldman

    RDE: Ray McDonald

    Reserve Defensive Ends: Ego Ferguson, Jarvis Jenkins

    Reserve Defensive tackle: Will Sutton 

    This by far is the toughest group to project. The Bears will likely roll with these six players, but it's still a complete mystery as to where they will all line up.

    Jay Ratliff can play either the end or tackle spot. He will likely start on the outside because second-round pick Eddie Goldman is a better fit as a run-stuffing nose tackle.

    Ray McDonald has had past success in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's system, but last year's second-round pick, Ego Ferguson, is big, hungry and figures to be a better long-term fit.

    Will Sutton is undersized but can rush the passer, while Jarvis Jenkins is a former second-round pick from Washington who has a ton of talent.

Linebacker

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    Projected Depth Chart

    LOLB: Pernell McPhee

    LILB: Jon Bostic

    RILB: Mason Foster

    ROLB: Jared Allen

    Reserve OLB: Lamarr Houston, Willie Young

    Reserve ILB: Sam Acho, Shea McClellin, Christian Jones 

    Like with the defensive line, it's tough to project how the linebackers will shake out. There will likely be a ton of players rotated in and out depending on the game situation.

    Pernell McPhee is the team's prized free agent and expected to be the primary pass-rusher. Jared Allen is switching to a new position at the ripe age of 33 and Jon Bostic will get another crack at playing inside.

    Willie Young and Lamarr Houston are both returning from injury. Houston has to be the favorite to be the first player rotated in because of his past experience and success in a 3-4 system from his days in Oakland.

    Mason Foster is a good fit next to Bostic. The two should be able to rack up a ton of tackles as long as the boys up front keep offensive linemen at bay.

    Sam Acho can play inside or out, so he's very valuable as a sub . Shea McClellin just wants to find success anywhere. Christian Jones can be a special teams monster while he continues to develop on defense.

Cornerback

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    Projected Depth Chart

    LCB: Tim Jennings

    RCB: Kyle Fuller

    Nickel: Demontre Hurst

    Reserves: Alan Ball, Al Louis-Jean, Sherrick McManis

    Kyle Fuller had a solid rookie campaign last year. He will look to take another step toward becoming a Pro Bowl corner in this new-look defense.

    Tim Jennings regressed last year, so it's going to be interesting to see if he can come close to regaining his old form. Demontre Hurst will get the early reps at nickel, but Sherrick McManis is poised and ready to step in if needed.

    Alan Ball and Al Louis-Jean are rangy corners who can step in when fatigue and injuries pop up.

Safety

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    Projected Depth Chart

    FS: Adrian Amos

    SS: Antrel Rolle

    Reserves: Brock Vereen, Ryan Mundy

    It might be a surprise right now to see Adrian Amos listed as the starter, but you will see why he's here once training camp begins. Amos is the only pure single-high safety on the roster and should have no problem beating out Ryan Mundy or Brock Vereen at free safety.

    Veteran Antrel Rolle brings a ton of leadership with him from New York. He will be the in-the-box hitter and help out in run support.

    Vereen and Mundy are quality reserves who can offer a ton of value on special teams.

Special Teams

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    Projected Depth Chart

    K: Robbie Gould

    P: Pat O'Donnell

    LS: Thomas Gafford

    There are no surprises here. Robbie Gould will look to bounce back after attempting a career-low 12 kicks last year. Pat O'Donnell enters his second season in the league and should be more comfortable punting in Soldier Field.

    The Bears were smart to bring in Thomas Gafford from Kansas City. He offers veteran leadership which was sorely missing following the retirement of Patrick Mannelly.