Updated Monday, June 30
Throughout the offseason, we’ll update the Bears’ depth chart as we approach training camp. This is our take on the depth chart at the conclusion of veteran minicamp, less than one month before training camp begins in Bourbonnais.
* - rookie
WR: Brandon Marshall / Josh Bellamy / Armanti Edwards
WR: Alshon Jeffery / Terrence Toliver
WR: Marquess Wilson / Josh Morgan / Eric Weems / Chris Williams / Micheal Spurlock
OLT: Jermon Bushrod / Charles Leno Jr.* / James Brown / Joe Long
OLG: Matt Slauson / James Brown / Eben Britton / Ryan Groy* / James Dunbar*
C: Roberto Garza / Brian de la Puente / Taylor Boggs
ORG: Kyle Long / Michael Ola / James Brown / Eben Britton / Ryan Groy* / James Dunbar*
ORT: Jordan Mills / Eben Britton / Cody Booth*
TE: Martellus Bennett / Dante Rosario / Matthew Mulligan / Zach Miller / Jeron Mastrud
QB: Jay Cutler / Jordan Palmer / Jimmy Clausen / David Fales*
RB: Matt Forte / Ka'Deem Carey* / Michael Ford / Shaun Draughn / Jordan Lynch* / Senorise Perry*
FB: Tony Fiammetta
Note: Obviously there are not 12 players on the field, but the Bears most often use a 3-WR, 1-TE and 1-RB formation, and we wanted to have a slot for the fullback.
The biggest competition on this side of the ball will come at backup quarterback. Palmer's pectoral injury and the signing of Clausen will make it an intriguing battle between a veteran who knows the playbook well and has the respect of the team in Palmer, and a former second-round pick with the physical tools that has not panned out in the NFL in Clausen. The Bears will want to keep Fales on the roster somehow, too.
At running back, Carey and Ford generally split the duties with the second team during the OTAs and minicamp, while Draughn showed nicely. Lynch has an extremely uphill battle to make the team, and Draughn and Ford also play special teams. The battle here is likely at the No. 3 back position, with Carey set up nicely to be Matt Forte's complement.
At wide receiver, the OTAs and minicamp left little doubt that Wilson is the clear-cut No. 3 receiver, leaving the main battle for No. 4 wideout between Morgan, Bellamy, Toliver and Weems. The No. 5 receiver on the team will likely be the player who wins the return battle between Weems, Williams, Spurlock and Edwards.
We saw some interesting shuffling on the offensive line because Slauson, Long and Mills were held out of practices during minicamp. Ola, who played for Marc Trestman in Montreal, moved up to the second team at right guard, and he can also play tackle. Britton is solid as the team's sixth lineman, and de la Puente will have an edge ahead of Boggs — both centers can also play guard. Brown's best chance to make the team appears as a backup swing tackle, where he'll compete with Long and Leno Jr., the seventh-round rookie who appears to hold the edge.
LDE: Lamarr Houston / Trevor Scott / David Bass / Austen Lane
3T: Jeremiah Ratliff / Nate Collins / Will Sutton* / Brandon Dunn* / Lee Pegues*
NT: Stephen Paea / Ego Ferguson* / Tracy Robertson
RDE: Jared Allen / Willie Young / Cornelius Washington / Jamil Merrell*
SLB: Shea McClellin / Jon Bostic / Christian Jones*
MLB: D.J. Williams / Jon Bostic / Jerry Franklin / Dede Lattimore*
WLB: Lance Briggs / Khaseem Greene / Jordan Senn / Conor O'Neill*
CB: Tim Jennings / Kyle Fuller* / Kelvin Hayden / Sherrick McManis / C.J. Wilson / Derricus Purdy*
SS: Ryan Mundy / Adrian Wilson / Danny McCray / Craig Steltz
FS: Brock Vereen* / Chris Conte / M.D. Jennings / Marcus Trice*
CB: Charles Tillman / Kyle Fuller* / Isaiah Frey / Demontre Hurst / Al Louis-Jean*
The intrigue on defense starts at linebacker, where McClellin and Bostic continue to compete to show who made the bigger offseason leap to start on the strong side. Interestingly enough, McClellin got the first-team reps there in practice, but Bostic was the first-team nickel linebacker, and the Bears expect to be in the nickel more often than not. Williams is not guaranteed to start in the middle, either. It will be some time in Bourbonnais before those two positions between the three players get sorted out.
Sticking with linebacker, if Jones can prove himself on special teams, he'll have a shot to make the roster as an undrafted rookie who can also play on the strong side.
On the D-line, there wasn't much shuffling with the first-team group. When the Bears have a base defense with four down-linemen, it will be the starters listed above. Sutton and Ferguson are obvious locks to make the team, and if we're to assume Collins makes the squad, the battle to be the team's ninth defensive lineman will be between primarily Scott, Bass, Lane and Washington.
In the secondary, we moved Vereen to the starting safety considering he took almost all the first-team reps there, but that job will not be handed to the fourth-round rookie, as Conte could very well win the job in training camp when he's healthy. Wilson is an interesting addition. If healthy, he could even challenge Mundy for a starting spot, and at a minimum, would be the top backup. Steltz and McCray are quality special-teamers, so Jennings would need to outplay them in that area to guarantee a roster spot. Trice had a couple nice plays in minicamp.
Fuller is listed as the backup corner to each Jennings and Tillman, and we know that he will play outside in the nickel defense with Jennings covering the slot. Hayden appears ahead of Frey to be the team's fourth corner, while McManis has special-teams value that could knock Frey off the roster.
P: Patrick O'Donnell* / Tress Way
PK: Robbie Gould
LS: Chad Rempel* / Brandon Hartson
PR: Chris Williams / Eric Weems / Micheal Spurlock / Armanti Edwards / Michael Ford
KR: Chris Williams / Micheal Spurlock / Armanti Edwards / Michael Ford / Eric Weems
All eyes on special teams battles in Bourbonnais will be at returner, which should be fun considering it's a competition we can measure pretty well throughout practices and the preseason. Williams had the edge entering OTAs, but the additions of Edwards and Spurlock make this much more interesting. Don't count out Weems or Ford, either, especially with their value on the offensive side of the ball, too.
Patrick Mannelly's retirement will put a spotlight of sorts on the long snapper battle — though, a very tiny spotlight, maybe just a flashlight. Rempel has a good rapport with O'Donnell (they trained together prior to the draft), but it's hard to pinpoint a 'leader' in that battle.
O'Donnell should win the punting job, even though Way has upped his game, according to special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. You don't draft a punter without intending him to be your punter.