The Chicago Bears have their first preseason game in four days. That means it was time to release their first depth chart of the year. Everybody will say it’s unofficial and doesn’t represent the final product. However, there is always an element of truth hidden in the lineup. It represents where the head coach and his staff see things at the moment. More often than not, much of the pecking order remains unchanged by opening day.
There were some obvious decisions with Justin Fields at quarterback, Cole Kmet at tight end, Robert Quinn at defensive end, and so on. Kindle Vildor being the #3-4 cornerback was a minor surprise considering where his stock was at the end of last season. That said, there were much bigger shocks elsewhere.
Bears (unofficial) depth chart for this weekend's preseason opener pic.twitter.com/7MwAtTDs1p
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) August 10, 2022
Braxton Jones is the Chicago Bears’ starting left tackle.
This cannot be understated. It is unprecedented to think what the Bears might be on the precipice of doing. Starting a rookie left tackle isn’t uncommon. Teams have done it before, but those rookies are always 1st or 2nd round picks. Jones is a 5th round pick and from a smaller school of Southern Utah to boot. That is crazy. It could become one of the biggest steals in recent team history if he turns out to be good.
Equanimeous St. Brown is the #2 wide receiver.
Everybody had Byron Pringle pegged as the easy choice for the guy who’d flank Darnell Mooney as Justin Fields’ top two targets at wide receiver. Training camp hasn’t played out that way. Pringle didn’t flash much and then injured his quad. Meanwhile, St. Brown steadily improved and has clearly gained the quarterback’s trust. The 6’5 former 7th round pick never got much work in Green Bay. This might finally be his time.
Good ball from Fields to St. Brown. pic.twitter.com/mH9R2NVkTV
— Harrison Graham (@HGrahamNFL) August 9, 2022
Mario Edwards has moved to defensive end.
When the Bears signed Edwards two years ago, he was lined up as a 3-4 defensive end. That is the equivalent of a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. So when the defense switched schemes, most assumed the veteran would shift inside. That doesn’t seem to be the case. He is listed as a defensive end, so he’ll be coming off the edge—an interesting decision by the coaching staff.
Joe Thomas is the strong-side linebacker.
Nicholas Morrow is the middle linebacker and (hopefully) Roquan Smith will be the weak-side guy. That leaves the strong side for the Chicago Bears to figure out. By many accounts, Thomas has made several plays in practice, leading the defense in takeaways. He may lock that job down if he can carry that success into the preseason—an unexpected twist in the team’s roster-wide competition.
Dazz Newsome is the punt returner.
Now, this is a development worth noting. Newsome looked like a dead man walking when camp began, buried on a depth chart overhauled with new faces. To his credit, the former 6th round pick has accepted the challenge with some nice practices at wide receiver. However, it appears his special teams prowess may win the day. He was a good punt returner in college. That may save his roster spot in Chicago.