The NFL season is getting closer, and teams are starting to finalize their depth charts and cut their rosters down to 53 players.
The Bears are no different, wrapping up training camp and heading into the final week of preseason.

As we continue to preview the team, let’s look at the secondary and just how much potential there is.


Youth

The Bears’ secondary is full of young players. Jaylon Johnson, heading into year 4, is only 24 years old. Kyler Gordon and Tyrique Stevenson are each 23. Jaquan Brisker is 24. Eddie Jackson is 29 and is the group veteran, but safeties often play deep into their thirties.

The depth on the team is also full of youth, with Kindle Vildor being the veteran of a lot of guys drafted or signed in UDFA in 2022 and 2023, including Terell Smith, Kendall Williamson, Elijah Hicks, Josh Blackwell, and Jaylon Jones.

Defined Roles

The Bears have a group of defenders in the secondary who all have clear-cut roles. Johnson and Stevenson will be the boundary corners, with Johnson shadowing the opposing team’s top receiver on the outside and Stevenson covering the WR2. Johnson has been doing that for two seasons now and has held up on the outside against the likes of DaVante Adams, but they won’t be forced to follow them into the slot.

Gordon will handle the slot, where he excelled down the stretch. Brisker will play SS, and Jackson will play FS. In cover 1 or cover 3 looks, Jackson will be single-high, and Brisker will come down to the box. In cover 2 or cover 4 looks, both will play deep half.

Abilities

Jackson was on his way to an All-Pro campaign before his foot injury. I expect him to pick up where he left off and have a great 2023 campaign on the level of his 2018 and 2019 seasons. Brisker had a great rookie year, getting All-rookie votes, and led the Bears in sacks. I could see him making the leap to being a Pro Bowl-level player.

Johnson is getting so close to taking that next step to be one of the elite shutdown corners in the league with his man-to-man abilities, and his zone improved under Eberflus and the defensive staff. I see him also having a borderline Pro Bowl season. Gordon and Stevenson will have some growing pains early, still being so young and CB being such a hard position to adjust to from college to the pros, but by the end of the year, they should be solid starters.

Depth is great, with Smith having a great training camp, Jones impressing in limited time last year, Vildor having a good 2022, and Blackwell, Hicks, and Williamson having great special teams ability.


Verdict: The Bears’ secondary will be in the top 10 in the NFL this season, bordering on the ultimate 5.
Due to the youth, it won’t quite be the best, but it’ll be one of the biggest strengths for the team.

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