Predicting the Bears' 53-man roster after the preseason finale

Predicting the Bears' 53-man roster after the preseason finale
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: Nick Kwiatkoski #44 of the Chicago Bears sacks Cody Kessler #6 of the Cleveland Browns during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 31, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

You don't learn much from the final preseason game, typically.

On Thursday night, Cleveland came to Soldier Field and blanked the Bears 25-0.

Veterans Lamarr Houston and Victor Cruz left with knee injuries. Deiondre' Hall never returned after suffering a leg injury and Connor Shaw hurt his leg late in the game forcing Mitchell Trubisky back in on the game's final drive.

The deadline for final cuts with come on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT. All franchises must trim their rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the active/inactive list. Many of the initial cuts will come on Friday.

On Sunday, the claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster downsize will end at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT. Then an hour later, a 10-man practice squad can start being formed.

Here are my predictions on the Bears' 53-man roster with 37 pending cuts on the horizon.

Quarterback (2): Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky

Mike Glennon is your Week 1 starter. I have to place No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky directly behind him so he can earn those meaningful backup snaps. He has shown enough in the preseason to warrant the backup job.

Heck, he can easily slide into the starting role and I'm sure fans and analysts would be happy to see that.

Regardless, the other quarterbacks on the roster, Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw appear to be on the outs. Sanchez completed 3-of-6 passes for 27 yards in limited action this preseason. Shaw played most of the final three quarters before leaving with a hamstring injury against Cleveland.

Head coach John Fox certainly didn't give Sanchez a big stamp of approval in the post game press conference tonight. He said he wasn't sure if Sanchez would be here after Saturday, stating "that's a decision we haven't made yet." There is still a chance Sanchez returns.

Running back (4): Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Jeremy Langford, Benny Cunningham

Lock Jordan Howard in as the No. 1 guy as fourth round rookie Tarik Cohen will serve as the true change of pace back. It also appears that Jeremy Langford will be the other core reserve with his experience and health back on his side.

Then, Benny Cunningham. The veteran has shown enough as a receiver out of the backfield and core special teamer to stick around. Ka'Deem Carey is out for the next six weeks with a wrist injury, so he can be stashed on the PUP list. Undrafted rookie Joshua Rounds from Tulane is headed for waivers.

---I don't think the team decides to keep either fullback Michael Burton or Freddie Stevenson on the roster. Burton hasn't been very good and Stevenson is still learning. If anything Stevenson will land on the Bears' practice squad or someone else's. He has upside.

Wide receiver (6): Kevin White, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson, Tanner Gentry, Josh Bellamy

By default, third year man Kevin White is the No. 1 wide receiver to open the season. This is a huge audition for the former first round pick. Markus Wheaton will be a vertical threat that the offense craves once he returns from a broken finger.

Kendall Wright is the clear favorite to man the slot after a strong preseason, especially last week against his former team in Tennesee. Then, special teamers Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy should both stick around.

A fan favorite has been undrafted rookie Tanner Gentry. The Wyoming product has shown promise and I don't think the Bears can afford to let him go with a limited group that has been hampered by the loss of Cameron Meredith.

That means Victor Cruz, Daniel Braverman, Titus Davis and Alton "Pig" Howard are going to be cut loose. Cruz appears to be done and his knee injury on Thursday night didn't help his cause. Braverman has been non-existent, Davis could be back via the practice squad and Howard is a project at this point.

Tight end (4): Dion Sims, Zach Miller, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown

Dion Sims has shown well as a blocker and was signed to do that and catch the occasional pass. Zach Miller is back healthy and will be playing in lots of two tight end sets.

Second round pick Adam Shaheen has been a practice standout, but he's been inconsistent this preseason. Tight end is a tough transition, but he will come along eventually.

Then comes the decision between Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker. Brown has much more upside as a receiving threat and could be used in many different ways offensively.

Braunecker is a solid special teamer. I think Brown ultimately wins the job because of the lack of talent in the wide receiver room. The Bears need pass catchers wherever they can find them. MyCole Pruitt will be let go but will land on someone's practice squad. He is a legit athlete.

Offensive line (8): Charles Leno Jr., Kyle Long, Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton, Bobby Massie, Hroniss Grasu, Tom Compton, Jordan Morgan

Regardless of if Kyle Long is back for Week 1, Hroniss Grasu has proven he belongs. He gives the offensive line versatility with Cody Whitehair kicking out to left guard.

Tom Compton has also shown the ability to play either tackle or guard and he's going to be counted upon as a core backup.

Fifth round pick Jordan Morgan flashed why he was taken in this year's draft in the preseason finale. He had a couple of really impressive pull out blocks on Rounds runs. He will mainly be a gameday inactive, but the Bears can't afford to keep him on the practice squad. He'd get scooped up quickly.

William Poehls certainly should have options elsewhere if not the Bears' practice squad with his versatility. Cyril Richardson, Taylor Boggs, Brandon Greene, Bradley Sowell, Mitchell Kirsch and Dieugot Joseph are all likely to be waived. I can see Joseph being brought back as a developmental tackle on the practice squad.

Defensive line (7): Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Jaye Howard, Mitch Unrein, Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, John Jenkins

Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are the top performers on the defensive line. It remains to be seen if Jaye Howard, Mitch Unrein or Jonathan Bullard will start next to them. I'd give Bullard the edge after a solid preseason. But expect a rotation at the other defensive end spot.

Roy Robertson-Harris has flashed after moving back to his natural defensive end spot following a rookie season on injured reserve. John Jenkins serves a purpose as the backup nose tackle behind an often injured Goldman.

I really liked what C.J. Wilson did late last season and this preseason, but his chances are very slim. Rashaad Coward should make a strong push for a practice squad, the undrafted rookie has been good this preseason.

Linebacker (8): Willie Young, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman, Leonard Floyd, Lamarr Houston, Nick Kwiatkoski, Christian Jones, Sam Acho

Willie Young, Jerrell Freeman and Leonard Floyd are all good to go for the home opener on Sept. 10. Danny Trevathan is aiming to be ready, but if he isn't Nick Kwiatkoski will slide in next to Freeman.

Christian Jones locked up a roster spot with a nice preseason, plus his role on special teams is legitimate. Sam Acho is a savvy veteran who is also a nice special teams player.

It remains to be seen how serious Lamarr Houston's knee injury is. He, of course, suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of the preseason finale. The 30-year-old tore his left ACL in 2016 and his right ACL in 2014. The Bears saw what he can do when healthy and that third outside linebacker spot is crucial.

John Timu has been a good performer but this is a numbers game. Hard to see where he fits. Jonathan Anderson, Kelvin Sheppard, Dan Skuta and Isaiah Irving are all likely gone. Irving showed up often with three sacks this preseason including two tonight. He should be a favorite for a practice squad spot.

---This linebacker prediction is based on the Bears placing Pernell McPhee on the PUP to start the season. His status is still a mystery.

Cornerback (6): Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Cre'Von LeBlanc, Sherrick McManis

Prince Amukamara hasn't been healthy but he and Marcus Cooper will be the new starting cornerbacks. Bryce Callahan will open up as the slot corner.

Behind them will be Kyle Fuller, who earned his roster spot with a strong preseason, nickelback Cre'Von LeBlanc and longest tenured Bear/special teams leader Sherrick McManis.

B.W. Webb, Johnthan Banks and Rashaad Reynolds didn't do enough to stand out consistently so they'll move on.

Safety (5): Quintin Demps, Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, Deiondre' Hall

Quintin Demps has shown leadership and will be the starting strong safety while fourth round rookie Eddie Jackson forced his way into the lineup. Jackson appears to be taking over as the team's top free safety after starting there last week and sitting out the preseason finale.

Adrian Amos made 31 starts the past two seasons, but he played well into the second half the last two games. He is the top backup. Then it is a pair of 2016 fourth rounders in Deon Bush and Deiondre' Hall. Bush is a hard hitter that I really like and Hall has the versatility and length to play both cornerback and safety.

DeAndre Houston-Carson, Chris Prosinski and Harold Jones-Quartey are the other safeties I left off this list. Houston-Carson is still learning the game, Prosinski is simply a special teamer and Jones-Quartey is not a true starter. I like Jones-Quartey a lot and can see him making the team, but Bush and Hall were mid-round draft picks of general manager Ryan Pace last year. They have the edge in my mind.

Special teams (3): Connor Barth, Patrick O'Donnell, Jeff Overbaugh

Connor Barth is the kicker for now, Patrick O'Donnell is the punter for now and Jeff Overbaugh is the long snapper for now. All of that could change after the claiming period. Barth and O'Donnell had good camps. The only obvious thing is that Roberto Aguayo is not going to make this team.

Weigh in with your thoughts on the Bears in the comment section below.

Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.

Filed under: Bears News

Tags: Bears, Chicago, Final Cuts, NFL 2017

Leave a comment