Bears post-NFL Draft depth chart: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze complete new-look offense (2024)

When a team has only five picks, the depth chart impact of the NFL Draft isn’t going to be as strong. The Chicago Bears found their new starting quarterback, a starting receiver, a backup offensive lineman, a punter and a backup defensive end last week.

General manager Ryan Poles knew he couldn’t fill every need in the draft, but while the defensive line could still use some help, this roster is relatively deep compared with what we’re used to from the Bears.

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This iteration of our Bears depth chart does include players who signed futures deals in January, which puts the roster at 73 players. Undrafted rookie signings will be fluid, as the Bears’ rookie camp isn’t until the second weekend in May. They can still add undrafted rookies who don’t make it at camps this weekend.

By mid-May, when OTAs begin, the roster should be at 90 players. After OTAs and minicamp, we’ll have another breakdown with all the rookies included. Here’s our current look at the depth chart with the Bears’ five draft picks in italics.

GO DEEPEREven before he started high school, Caleb Williams showed he was 'a special kid'

Quarterback

Starter: Caleb Williams

Tyson Bagent, Brett Rypien

Jahns: The Bears aren’t wasting time with Williams’ development. I like that. There is value in sitting behind a veteran quarterback. But Poles knows he doesn’t have an Alex Smith on his roster and that the odds say that first-round quarterbacks typically take the field at some point in their rookie seasons regardless of their respective circ*mstances. There is no Mike Glennon or Andy Dalton standing in Williams’ way. He will learn on the field as the Bears’ No. 1 quarterback — and do so in a situation that only Mitch Trubisky and Justin Fields could dream of.

Fishbain: Well, this looks a lot better than it did after the Fields trade, but we all knew it was happening. In an effort to best support Williams, I’d expect the Bears to keep three quarterbacks. They have a very valuable backup in Bagent, who already has game experience. Assistant coach Ryan Griffin will also have a major role in this room after being Tom Brady’s backup during his decade-long NFL career.

Running back

Starter: D’Andre Swift

Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame (fullback)

Fishbain: The Bears could bring in an undrafted rookie or two to compete for roles on special teams, but Homer is a core part of that group. We don’t know what offensive coordinator Shane Waldron’s plans are yet at fullback, but Blasingame also contributes on special teams. Here’s a question, though: Depending on Johnson’s development, and if an undrafted rookie comes in and impresses, would Herbert be a trade candidate?

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Jahns: That question, Fish, is something I think the Bears will consider as teams finalize their rosters. Herbert is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Swift signed a three-year deal with the Bears, while Johnson has the same number of years remaining on his first contract after being drafted (and then praised a bunch) in the fourth round last year. Herbert is a solid back, but running back is a position that changes often for teams.

Wide receiver

Starters: DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze

Tyler Scott, Velus Jones, Nsimba Webster, Dante Pettis, Collin Johnson

Jahns: On Thursday night, the Bears’ social media team shared a montage of Moore, Allen and Odunze, along with Williams and Swift — and it caught cornerback Jaylon Johnson’s attention. “I can’t wait for practice,” he said on X. Coach Matt Eberflus probably loved it. It’s what the Bears want. Their receiving corps has real star power. The competitions in practice against Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker and Kevin Byard will be intense.

Fishbain: The Bears’ starting receivers for the beginning of the Poles/Eberflus era? Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown and Pettis. What a massive upgrade in talent orchestrated over the past year with the acquisitions of Moore, Allen and Odunze. This trio could challenge to be one of the best in the league. Scott should be the No. 4 receiver, but any decisions after that will likely come down to special teams.

GO DEEPERHow the Caleb Williams-Rome Odunze workout was a glimpse into the Bears' future

Tight end

Starter: Cole Kmet

Gerald Everett, Stephen Carlson

Fishbain: Look for an undrafted rookie or two to join this group to compete with Carlson to be that H-back-type, No. 3 tight end who can also help on special teams. But we’re not talking about a lot of snaps per game. The 1-2 punch of Kmet-Everett should hopefully be what the Bears have been lacking at the position in recent years, where Kmet has out-produced his backup by a lot.

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Jahns: Is there such a thing as a workhorse tight end? Because Kmet has been exactly that for the Bears over the past three seasons. He’s still one of the Bears’ best players and should become a reliable option for Williams. Everett is here to help ease the load on Kmet — and he should given his experience with Waldron in Los Angeles and Seattle

Offensive line

LT: Braxton Jones, Kiran Amegadjie, Matt Pryor

LG: Teven Jenkins, Bill Murray, Jerome Carvin

C: Ryan Bates, Coleman Shelton, Doug Kramer

RG: Nate Davis, Ja’Tyre Carter

RT: Darnell Wright, Larry Borom, Jake Curhan, Aviante Collins

Jahns: There are still questions about the line. Is Bates really ready for everything at center after being a backup last season for Buffalo? Can Jenkins stay on the field? Will Davis play like the free-agent signing the Bears hoped he’d be? Will Amegadjie be able to push Jones in his rookie season? All that said, the depth looks better across the board. It might not be an elite unit, but Wright still has the potential to be an elite right tackle.

Fishbain: Had Odunze not gotten to the Bears at No. 9, maybe we’re talking about a new starting left tackle, but it’ll likely remain Jones’ job for 2024. The key will be seeing if Amegadjie has the “starter potential” that the Bears believe after using a third-round pick on him. His ability to play right tackle, too, likely makes Borom a trade candidate. The 2021 fifth-round pick is due to make more than $3 million this season.

Bears post-NFL Draft depth chart: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze complete new-look offense (4)

Can second-year player Gervon Dexter seize a starting spot on the defensive line now that Justin Jones is gone? (Justin Casterline / Getty Images)

Defensive line

DE: Montez Sweat, Dominique Robinson, Khalid Kareem

DT: Gervon Dexter, Michael Dwumfour

NT: Andrew Billings, Zacch Pickens, Byron Cowart

DE: DeMarcus Walker, Austin Booker, Jacob Martin, Daniel Hardy

Fishbain: The Bears showed a lot of belief in their 2023 draft picks on the interior by not adding any defensive tackles in the draft or in free agency, aside from Cowart. That puts some pressure on Dexter and Pickens to make the Year 2 jump, but Dexter especially did show plenty of promise late last season. Billings played nearly 50 percent of the snaps last season, too, and figures to be out there often. There is still room to add depth and we may see a veteran defensive tackle and defensive end signed before camp.

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Jahns: There is no way Poles is done with this group. Eberflus and defensive coordinator Eric Washington need more to work with up front beyond the development of their young players. It wouldn’t be surprising if Yannick Ngakoue returned on a short-term, team-friendly deal after his injury last season. Other available veterans could interest the Bears as well.

GO DEEPERBears 2024 NFL Draft takeaways: Sky's the limit for Rome Odunze, Caleb Williams

Linebacker

WLB: T.J. Edwards, Noah Sewell

MLB: Tremaine Edmunds, Micah Baskerville

SLB: Jack Sanborn, Amen Ogbongbemiga

Jahns: This group won’t get as much attention as the Bears’ other position groups this offseason, especially after what happened in the draft on offense. But it remains a good one. Edmunds and Edwards should improve in their second season together in Eberflus’ defense, too. Sanborn remains one of Poles’ best moves in undrafted free agency.

Fishbain: The Bears have to feel pretty good about their linebacker situation, which, like receiver, has seen quite the upgrade after 2022. Sewell’s progression will be worth watching in camp, and Ogbongbemiga should be a key special-teamer this season.

Cornerback

Starters: Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon

Jaylon Jones, Terell Smith, Josh Blackwell, Greg Stroman Jr.

Fishbain: Like receiver, the Bears boast quite the top three at this position — and they’re all young. But there’s also depth. Jones, Smith and Blackwell have all played plenty of reps on defense. Looking ahead, how good can Gordon be in Year 3? He’ll be eligible for a contract extension in 2025 and played really well last season.

Jahns: Let’s go back to the competition. Eberflus already has a good secondary, but facing Williams with Allen, Moore, Odunze, Kmet and Swift in practice can make them even better. “We’ve got to defend those guys in practice, which I think is going to be really good for our skill set on both sides of the ball,” Eberflus said. “Because if you look at the receiving corps, they’re all different. The halfbacks are all different. The tight ends are different. They’re different skill sets. So I think that’s a credit to Ryan to be able to bring those guys together, acquire those guys, and I think it’s going to be very difficult to defend.”

GO DEEPERChicago Bears draft Kiran Amegadjie: How he fits, pick grade and scouting intel

Safety

Starters: Kevin Byard, Jaquan Brisker

Jonathan Owens, Elijah Hicks, Adrian Colbert, Douglas Coleman III, Quindell Johnson, Tarvarius Moore

Jahns: As a tackler, Byard is an upgrade over Eddie Jackson. His ball skills have shown up more in the past three seasons, too. He’ll be relied on to be the voice of the secondary. But that’s also a role that Brisker should be ready to handle in his third season. Byard and Brisker should be a formidable duo.

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Fishbain: I wondered if the Bears would look at safety for mid-round picks if they liked someone enough who could take over for Byard one day, but they do have backups with starting experience in Owens and Hicks. This will be a big year for Brisker, who has had some ups and downs but could be primed to put it all together.

Bears post-NFL Draft depth chart: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze complete new-look offense (7)

Big things are expected of former Iowa punter Tory Taylor, whom the Bears spent a fourth-round pick on. (Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

Special teams

PK: Cairo Santos

P: Tory Taylor, Trenton Gill, Corliss Waitman

LS: Patrick Scales, Cameron Lyons

PR: Dante Pettis

KR: Velus Jones Jr.

Fishbain: A big offseason topic will be how the new kickoff rules affect personnel. Is Jones, who already was a dynamic kickoff returner, even a more valuable player to keep with the new rules? Or would Herbert be a better option? Could the rookie punter be a kickoff specialist if coordinator Richard Hightower wants to get creative? Scott, Odunze and likely an undrafted rookie or two could also be a factor on returns.

Jahns: Do you remember the days of Mega-Punt? That’s when Pat O’Donnell, a sixth-round pick from Miami in 2014, wowed everyone in training camp at Olivet Nazarene. The fans loved him. Gill never had that much fanfare despite his draft selection. Taylor will, though. Expectations for him are different because of his success and stardom in college. “Tory is a weapon for the whole football team,” Eberflus said.

(Top photo of Rome Odunze and Caleb Williams: David Banks / USA Today)

Bears post-NFL Draft depth chart: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze complete new-look offense (2024)
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