Here is why we expect the Bears' defensive line to struggle next season.

Published March 18, 2023 at 12:15

The Chicago Bears had their fair share of struggles in the 2022 season, particularly with their offensive line's pass blocking. However, the team's run blocking unit was a shining point of their game. On the other hand, the 2022 defensive line had a rough season, facing challenges in nearly every aspect of the game. It was evident that this unit needed significant work in the off-season, and the team had numerous holes to fill in other positions as well.

The Bears had a lot on their plate and needed to bolster their wide receiver group, both offensive and defensive lines, find a replacement for David Montgomery, secure a solid backup for Cole Kmet, add another cornerback, and two new linebackers. While the team has crossed off several of these needs, the offensive and defensive lines remain areas of concern.

The offensive line has potential to become a decent unit this year, but the defensive line may continue to struggle significantly in the 2023 season. Although the team has shown improvement from their 2022 version, they still have a long way to go.

It's similar to being a kid trying to ride a roller coaster; you need to be 60 inches tall, and in 2022, you were only 53 inches tall. You come back the next year, having grown 4 inches, but you're still not tall enough to ride. The Bears' defensive line is in a similar situation; they've made progress, but it may not be enough to overcome their issues in the upcoming season.

The addition of Andrew Billings was a smart move, as he is a solid player who will serve as the 1-tech on the line. However, ideally, he would be the least talented starter on a quality defensive line. As it stands, he is currently the best defensive lineman on the team.

Another key addition to the team is Demarcus Walker, who has the versatility to play both inside and out. Although he had a career year last year, his growth remains to be seen in Chicago. While it may not mean much, the Bears have officially classified him as a defensive end.

The current Bears defensive front is made up of Billings and Justin Jones at the middle, and Walker and Trevis Gipson on the edge. However, their talent is lacking and in need of improvement.

Ryan Poles is expected to sign another edge player to boost the defense, but there are no notable game changers left in the market. Looking ahead to the draft, Poles is likely to address the defensive line with picks between 53 and 64. However, with the Bears needing to address five different positions, including right tackle, center, cornerback, edge, and defensive tackle, it may not be possible to fill all of them without trading back.

If the Bears can secure another starting quality corner before the draft, it would be ideal for Poles. Some may suggest addressing the defensive line in round one with Jalen Carter or Lukas Van Ness, but this would leave Poles needing to address tackle in round two. While Poles found a rookie starter in round five with Braxton Jones, it is risky to assume that an offensive tackle drafted as high as round two can start immediately and keep Justin Fields safe.

It is unlikely for a late second-round defensive tackle or edge player to have a breakout rookie season, but having a couple of second-round quality players to rotate with the current ones would be beneficial.
March 18   |   169 answers
Here is why we expect the Bears' defensive line to struggle next season.

Is the defensive line the most significant need on the current Bears' roster?

Yes10964.5 %
No6035.5 %
Latest 10 stories