Projected Chicago Bears' Final 53-Man Roster, Pre-Training Camp Edition (LB)

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by BSBEARS, Jul 18, 2014.

  1. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Linebackers (6)

    [​IMG]

    USA TODAY Sports
    1. Lance Briggs
    2. Shea McClellin
    3. Jon Bostic
    4. D.J. Williams
    5. Christian Jones (Rookie)
    6. Khaseem Greene
    In one of the most wide-open competitions of training camp, only Lance Briggs is guaranteed a spot heading into the Week 1 of the regular season.
    After years of having Brian Urlacher hold down the middle of the field at the middle linebacker position, the 2013 Bears saw what life was like without him.
    Veteran D.J. Williams took over the middle linebacker job and played well until an injury ended his season in Week 6. He is expected to reclaim that job again this offseason.
    One of the more interesting competitions will be at strong-side linebacker with converted defensive end Shea McClellin competing with second-year man Jon Bostic for the starting job.
    McClellin and Bostic appear to be locks at the position, which leaves Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones, Jerry Franklin, DeDe Lattimore, Conor O'Neill and Jordan Senn to compete for what will likely only be two remaining spots.
    Despite his struggles in his rookie season, Greene will likely make the roster.
    While Franklin and Senn both offer experience on special teams, the potential of undrafted free agent Christian Jones should be enough for him to make the roster.
    A once projected mid-round pick, Jones reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL combine in February, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer (h/t Orlando Sentinel), which likely caused him to go undrafted. He has the flexibility to play all three linebacker positions but is best suited on the strong side. As long as he can prove his worth on special teams, it is unlikely that the team would be willing to lose him.
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  2. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Interesting thought that Greene will beat out Senn. The more I read the more I believe rookie Jones will make the team. He is fast and can probably replace Senn on special teams. Many of the Final Cuts will come down to special teams and Senn was brought here for special teams ability. Any upgrades on the positions while not significantly effecting special teams will be critical and Jones may fall into this category.
  3. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Chicago Bears Training Camp Preview: Linebackers

    by Mike "Boomer" Burzawa 1h ago Follow @BearGogglesOn

    [​IMG]
    Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
    As we count down the final days to the start of Chicago Bears training camp, we’re doing a preview of all of the position groups. We’ll look at our projected starters, key backups, training camp battles as we review the additions and subtractions to the Bears roster over the offseason.
    TODAY’S POSITION: LINEBACKERS

    Projected Starters: Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, Shea McClellin
    Reserves:
    Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene, Christian Jones*, DeDe Lattimore*, Jerry Franklin, Jordan Senn, Conor O’Neil*
    *Indicates rookie
    Key Departures: James Anderson
    Analysis
    More From Training Camp 2014

    If the Bears defensive line was the group most in need of a total makeover, the linebacker group probably has the most uncertainty heading into training camp. Lance Briggs will open camp as the starting weak side linebacker, but after that, there will be some very interesting battles to keep an eye on in Bourbonnais. Can DJ Williams bounce back from another season-ending injury to hold off second year man Jon Bostic? Will the “move Shea McClellin to linebacker” experiment blow up in Emery’s face or finally put the converted defensive end in a position to succeed?
    Perhaps the biggest addition to the “linebacker room” is position coach Reggie Herring. Herring comes to the Bears by way of the Houston Texans, where he’s coached linebackers the last couple of seasons. The grizzled vet has been coaching in some capacity since 1981 and with a lot of years in the college ranks, Herring knows how to relate to younger players and teach the techniques needed to be successful. Herring has already won over Lance Briggs through the OTA’s and minicamp:
    “I love the guy,” Briggs said. “He’s intense. He’s kind of a throwback, the kind of coach that I always remember growing up. So that part of the whole deal is, in a weird way, kind of comforting.”
    Herring will have a tough time sorting out the complex linebacker spots on the Bears. Barring some sort of an injury, Lance Briggs will be holding down the fort at his usual weak side linebacker position. Could 2014 be a farewell tour for the veteran linebacker? Briggs missed significant time with a shoulder injury in 2013 and came back in bad shape. He’s spent the offseason getting himself prepared for 2014 and will look to bounce back after a tire fire of a defensive year in 2013.

    The middle linebacker spot gets really interesting. The way I see it, it’s a three horse race for the Mike linebacker. The “lead dog” for the job, as Marc Trestman called him, is DJ Williams. The 10-year vet will look to come back from a season-ending injury and reclaim the MLB spot. Williams’ experience will be a key to hold off the younger and more athletic options.
    [​IMG]
    Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end John Carlson (89) is tackled by Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic (57) during the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
    The next up in the race for starting MLB is Jonathan Bostic. Bostic wowed fans in the preseason last year with some big hits and impact plays, but when Williams went down with injury, he showed he wasn’t ready for prime time. The coaching staff reviewed the tape and changed his run fits to allow him to keep his shoulders square a little longer to help him play the position a little more naturally. Phil Emery speculated that Bostic might be better suited to play on the outside and could be Lance Briggs’ successor down the road, but for now, Bostic is in the thick of things for the MLB position.
    Another candidate for the starting MLB spot is also the projected starter at strong side linebacker, converted defensive end, previously converted from a collegiate 3-4 outside linebacker, Shea McClellin. McClellin will be given every opportunity to succeed in his new role at linebacker.
    There was a lot of speculation that the Bears might flip from a 4-3 to a 3-4 this offseason, but that’s not happening. Instead, many believe that Mel Tucker will take a page out of the Seattle Seahawks playbook and use McClellin the way the ‘Hawks use Bruce Irvin. Let’s hope this story end the same way the Seahawks’ did last season, with a big shiny trophy.

    Biggest Camp Question

    Shea McClellin
    McClellin spent the offseason dropping weight and getting ripped in the gym, but does he have the strength to shed blockers and set the edge? Does he have the speed to cover a tight end or get to a screen pass in the flat? Those are the questions that McClellin the linebacker will have to answer. McClellin the defensive end’s answers weren’t that good so hopefully McClellin the linebacker can say yes to those questions. If he can’t, it could be one of GM Phil Emery’s biggest missteps since taking over as Bears GM in 2012.
    Camp Battles to Watch

    My fellow editor Mike Flannery did a great job outlining the position battle for MLB and a little birdie told me he is also working on one for the SLB spot, so stay tuned for that one, which will likely pit McClellin versus second year man Khaseem Greene with rookie Christian Jones possibly coming in to challenge for playing time as well.
    Dark Horse

    The aforementioned rookie linebacker Christian Jones. Jones carried a 4th round grade from many scouts, so people thought he was a great pickup by the Bears as a free agent when his name wasn’t called in May. Jones might have a tough time finding a place to fit on the Bears linebacker corps, so he’ll have to make an impression on special teams to earn himself a roster spot.

    Roster Projection (6)

    Briggs, McClellin, Williams, Bostic, Greene, Senn
    I think the first four names on the list are pretty safe bets. Williams could be a surprise cut if he doesn’t have a strong camp, but it would be a pretty big surprise. Greene could be on the bubble and will need to show the coaching staff that he’s made improvements after struggling in his limited opportunities in 2013. I like veteran Jordan Senn to grab the last linebacker spot and fill the special teams ace role that Blake Costanzo held down the last couple of seasons. Christian Jones is an ideal candidate to stash away on the practice squad for a year as he continues to develop.
    Final Word

    It’s not completely fair to blame the linebackers for the horrible defense last season since there was virtually no defensive line in front of them, but this group needs to be markedly better in 2014. Health is a concern for the veterans while the young guns need to step and and answer some key questions about the future in 2014, which is a crossroads season for Chicago Bears linebackers.
  4. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    From the sounds of it Jones has too much going for him to not be included. I'm thinking that much like CWash there may be too big a risk taken if we try to get him through waivers and onto the PS. So to me that leaved Greene and Senn battling for that last LB spot and it'll probably be a pretty fair battle too.

    Senn's main reason for being here is to replace Costanzo on STeams. They guy is really good at that and he's also had starting experience as 4-3 WLB and a 3-4 ILB. To me that gives him an edge going into camp. Greene is coming off a horrendous rookie year so all he has going for him is his youth and the fact that we burned a draft pick on him.

    That last part may have earned him the benefit of the doubt and another year to get it right if JA was still GM but not now. If they keep 6 LBs then it's gonna be the best six and that's it. We could keep as many as seven but then they have to decide what other position to cut roster depth at and depend on a PS guy to come up to fill a gap created by an injury. If the talent at LB is that deep that could happen.
  5. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Chicago Bears Position Battles: SLB

    by Mike Flannery 3h ago Follow @@MikeFlannery_


    Last year James Anderson was the Bears starter at strong-side OLB. The Bears signed Anderson to a 1-year free agent contract before the 2013 season after he was waived by the Panthers due to his salary cap number ($4M). Anderson had a decent start to the season for the Bears (0.0 PFF grade through first 8 games), but really struggled in the 2nd half of the year (-14.1) and the Bears decided not to re-sign him.
    Second-year OLB Khaseem Greene is better suited to back up Lance Briggs on the weak side, but he is in the mix for the starting SLB position this year. Former 1st round pick Shea McClellin is being moved to SLB which is where he played in college although in a 3-4 alignment. Undrafted free agent Christian Jones is a long shot for the position but has the talent to at least be in the mix. Here is a breakdown of the three candidates:
    Khaseem Greene
    Based on his play last year Greene shouldn’t be in the starter conversation, but as a 4th round pick he wasn’t expected to play last season and clearly wasn’t ready for NFL minutes yet. Most rookies take a year or two to adjust to the speed of the NFL and Greene should be a better player this year after spending the offseason getting stronger. He’s only four years removed from playing safety at Rutgers before moving to weak side OLB as a junior. His strengths are in coverage and using his speed to run down ball carriers from the weak side. His weakness is taking on blockers which is exactly what the Bears would be asking him to do on the strong-side this year. Greene wasn’t strong enough to play weak-side OLB last year so he will have to get considerably stronger to handle the SLB spot. If he ends up starting at SLB this season, it’s because McClellin failed and Jones isn’t ready. Coming out of college NFL.com called Greene a prototype WLB and compared his skill set to Lavonte David. The Bears need to use Greene where he belongs as Briggs backup / eventual replacement and not put him on the strong-side where he will continue to struggle and potentially lose confidence in his ability.
    More From 2014 Position Battles

    Shea McClellin
    He can’t be any worse at OLB than he was at DE right? McClellin was playing out of position last year, but was drafted in the first round because of his production as a 3-4 OLB. Emery thought McClellin could add some weight and still have the same burst off the edge at the DE position. He was wrong, but I give Emery credit for recognizing his mistake and trying to salvage some value from his initial 1st round pick with the Bears.
    It’s hard to remember it after how bad McClellin has been his first two years, but he was a beast in college and a guy multiple teams (NE, GB, PIT) were angling to draft in the first round. Emery’s DE experiment didn’t work out but it’s too soon to label McClellin a bust, it’s not unusual for a player to take a couple of years to adapt to the NFL game. This is probably McClellin’s last shot with the Bears but he is playing a position closer to the one he excelled at in college, he has lost 15-20 pounds to get back to his college playing weight and got his 40-time back to where it was at the 2011 combine (4.63). McClellin is the Bears best bet at SLB and if he can be close to the player he was in college the Bears could have a keeper at the position.
    [​IMG]
    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
    Christian Jones:
    Neither Greene nor McClellin have much actual experience playing SLB in a 4-3, which may open the door for Jones to claim the position. Jones started 10 games last season at SLB for the Seminoles which makes him the most experienced 4-3 SLB on the Bears roster. Based on the fact that he wasn’t drafted, Jones would seem to be a long shot to start but NFL.com had him graded as a 2nd rounder, CBS had him in the 2nd-3rd, and I had Jones pegged as a mid-3rd rounder. Jones dropped out of the draft due to a failed drug test at the combine and some confusion over what his best position was since he played all three LB positions in college and lined up often as a DE. If Jones was drafted in the 2nd-3rd round as his talent dictates, it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to consider him as a starter this year. Failed drug test or not, Jones has the talent to be a starter in the NFL. He was moved all over the field at Florida St which should be seen as a testament to his versatility instead of a knock as some GMs clearly took it. Jones can rush the passer, has great timing on blitzes, is fast enough (4.68) to cover RBs and TEs, and has the size and strength to take on blockers though that’s probably his biggest weakness right now. Jones has ideal SLB size (6’3, 240) and a better skill-set for the position than either Greene or McClellin, but the challenge of picking up a new defensive scheme may be enough to keep Jones on the bench early in the year. If Jones ends up as the starter in the second half of this season, just remember that you heard it here first.
    Projected Winner: Shea McClellin
    As bad as McClellin has been as a DE, he is only two years removed from being a 1st round pick who multiple draft sites compared to Clay Matthews. McClellin is back to his college weight and speed and playing for his future in the league. He has the most NFL experience of the three and was a force at OLB in college, while Greene is smaller than ideal for the position and Jones is a rookie. Ideally McClellin will win the job, Jones will see some snaps as his backup and Greene will backup Lance Briggs as he was drafted to do. If Shea can’t handle the position, I could see the Bears signing a veteran salary cap casualty to handle the position until Jones is ready to take over.
  6. BSBEARS

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    If Shea McC can be 3/4 as good as Clay Mathews I will be happy.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    It's not too hard to project McClellin as the winner if only because Emery would like to see him become a 3 down player. So would I but for the time being I'm not sure that's the very best way to use him in this defense. I guess we'll have to see how it all works out in camp and the preseason games.

    Greene isn't a SLB period so to say he's competition there says nothing. If he isn't 100% more prepared than he was last year there's a good chance he may not even make the team. Overall Christian Jones is probably a far better prospect that Greene even if he needs a year of work and mental reps to make the transition plus were talking about a guy who could play either OLB spot and possible even MLB.

    Bostic is still in the mix at SLB as well and a very good STeams guy like Jordan Senn who can also backup at WLB will be another looking to shove Greene off the roster. Personally I think the only way Greene makes it is if he's tons better this year or if they keep seven LBs.

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