With the draft over, the Chicago Bears have begun their preparations for training camp. Bringing the team together to start work on the 2021 season begins later this month. Minicamps and OTAs will begin the action and then things get really interesting. Several positions will experience some legitimate battles for roster spots. This courtesy of the strong depth GM Ryan Pace has built.

It will be up to head coach Matt Nagy and his staff to assess what they have and secure the 53 best players to carry into the season. Given how different things already look from last year, it could lead to a few surprises when the final cuts come down. So how will things play out? Here is an early projection of what the 53-man lineup will look like when the dust settles in August.

Chicago Bears depth chart could look a lot different this year

  • Andy Dalton
  • Nick Foles
  • Justin Fields

Typically the Bears carry just two quarterbacks into the regular season and one on the practice squad. That isn’t going to be the play this year. Dalton is the penciled-in starter as the team brass has said since signing him. Fields being their 1st round pick is obviously making it as well. That leaves Foles. While rumors persist he could get traded, the reality is there aren’t a lot of teams out there who will probably take him. So the veteran should stick on the roster for one more year due to his contract.

  • David Montgomery
  • Tarik Cohen
  • Damien Williams
  • Khalil Herbert

A lot of work was done to remake the depth at running back. Montgomery remains the main man of the group, deservedly so. Cohen will be returning from his ACL injury. Something coaches no doubt eagerly anticipate. Where it gets really fun is the arrivals of Williams and Herbert. Williams was the hero of Kansas City’s Super Bowl triumph two years ago. He’s quite familiar with that style of offense. Herbert is one of Chicago’s 6th round picks, showcasing some intriguing talent out of Virginia Tech. Their arrivals should spell the end for Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce.

  • Allen Robinson
  • Darnell Mooney
  • Dazz Newsome
  • Marquise Goodwin
  • Damiere Byrd
  • Riley Ridley

Another position that will likely see a ton of turnover this year. Robinson and Mooney are locks to make it. The same goes for Newsome, their 6th round pick out of North Carolina. Anthony Miller and Javon Wims are on thin ice after their disappointing 2020 season. It wouldn’t be a surprise if both are gone at some point. That should open the way for Goodwin and Byrd to secure their spots respectively thanks to their attractive speed. The last spot ends up going to Ridley both for his knowledge of the offense and the team’s need for another big body at the position.

  • Teven Jenkins
  • Cody Whitehair
  • Sam Mustipher
  • James Daniels
  • Germain Ifedi
  • Elijah Wilkinson
  • Larry Borom
  • Alex Bars

The Chicago Bears offensive line was peppered with injuries last season. So it can’t be a huge surprise they focused on improving their depth in 2021. The release of Charles Leno Jr. notwithstanding. Jenkins, Ifedi, Wilkinson, and Borom will make up their tackle crew. Meanwhile, there will be some hard decisions along the interior where the team has a number of quality options. Whitehair, Mustipher, and Daniels are the starters while Bars will be the primary backup at both guard spots. With Borom and Ifedi capable of moving inside if necessary? They don’t have to carry an additional option.

  • Jimmy Graham
  • Cole Kmet
  • J.P. Holtz

Tight end will basically be a two-man group this year. Graham will remain a primary pass target and their best red zone option. Kmet will hopefully take a step forward as a weapon in the passing game while also showcasing his value as a blocker. Holtz will be their backup and also a sort of Swiss Army knife who can serve as a fullback in I-formation situations. It’s possible they could add another body to the mix but a sacrifice is required somewhere if they’re holding onto three QBs. This could be the spot.

  • Akiem Hicks
  • Eddie Goldman
  • Bilal Nichols
  • Mario Edwards Jr.
  • Angelo Blackson
  • Khyiris Tonga

As with the offensive line, the Bears have done a really nice job shoring up the depth on their defensive front as well. Hanging onto Hicks was a major offseason victory after fears he might be traded. Goldman returns from his 2020 sabbatical due to the pandemic. Nichols and Edwards Jr. add more juice at defensive end along with Blackson. Meanwhile, Tonga was an underrated score in the 7th round of the draft. A perfect backup for Goldman at nose tackle. This is a strong and diverse group.

  • Khalil Mack
  • Robert Quinn
  • Trevis Gipson
  • Jeremiah Attaochu
  • Charles Snowden

The pass rush didn’t perform as well as hoped last season. Part of that was due to injuries as both Mack and Quinn suffered various ailments that hampered their effectiveness. Both are healthy now. Even so, Pace wisely made an effort to improve the talent at the spots behind them. Attaochu was a quality rotational guy in Denver the past two years. So he’s familiar with this style of defense. Gipson, their 5th round pick from 2020 still has plenty of upside. The difficult choice is for that final spot. James Vaughters deserves consideration but Snowden is the type of physical specimen Chicago won’t want to risk getting away.

  • Roquan Smith
  • Danny Trevathan
  • Christian Jones
  • Joel Iyiegbuniwe

Chicago hasn’t been consistent with how they stack their inside linebackers. Sometimes they’ll carry five on the roster. Other times it will be four. Given the nature of this offseason, the latter is more likely here. Smith and Trevathan are the obvious starters. Iyiegbuniwe brings considerable value to special teams. That leaves the decision between Jones and Josh Woods. Given Jones is a more consistent performer on defense, he gets the edge here. A tough decision.

  • Jaylon Johnson
  • Desmond Trufant
  • Duke Shelley
  • Thomas Graham Jr.
  • Kindle Vildor
  • Tre Roberson

With Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine both departing, it left a vacuum at cornerback where a number of new faces could end up reshaping the depth chart. Johnson is the new #1 guy. Trufant should be expected to man that #2 spot across from him. The real intrigue will be the battle for the nickel slot vacated by Skrine. Shelley is the early favorite but rookie 6th rounder Graham and second-year man Vildor should not be overlooked in that battle. As for the final spot, Roberson claims it given how much interest the Chicago Bears showed in him coming down from the CFL.

  • Eddie Jackson
  • Tashaun Gipson
  • DeAndre Houston-Carson
  • Deon Bush
  • Marqui Christian

There won’t be a ton of changes at safety this year. Pace managed to keep the group from last season mostly intact. Jackson remains fixed at free safety while Gipson returns on a one-year deal to start alongside him again. Houston-Carson and Bush will be the primary backups and core special teams guys. Christian should end up claiming the fifth and final spot due to his valuable special teams work and starting experience elsewhere. A solid mix of talent for the back end.

  • Cairo Santos
  • Pat O’Donnell
  • Patrick Scales

For the first time in a long time, the Chicago Bears have continuity with their group of specialists. Santos was a home run addition last year, going 30-of-32 on his field goal attempts. This earned him a well-deserved contract extension and stability for the franchise at kicker. O’Donnell remains steady at punter while Scales continues his long streak of holding the team’s long snapper job.