This one was hard.
When we did this exercise early in training camp last year, there were more than 40 players on the Bears practically guaranteed to make the final 53-man roster. This year, you’d be lucky to find 30.
That’s what happened when the Bears decided to reboot, axing players who had the résumé, guaranteed money or draft status to mandate a roster spot. The result of that blood-letting is a 2022 team that, early in camp, doesn’t profile as dangerous, deep or expensive.
Here’s a look at the Bears’ 90-man roster and predictions for who will make the final 53-man lineup Aug. 30:
Quarterbacks (2 keepers/3 on roster)
They’re keeping: Justin Fields, Trevor Siemian.
On the bubble: Nathan Peterman.
Battle to watch: There’s not really one. That’s what puts Justin Fields in a much better position than last year, when he was the second-stringer.
Big number: 635 — Snaps taken by Fields last season. First overall pick Trevor Lawrence took 1,078.
He said it: ‘‘[Fields] is a natural-born-leader type of guy. So we’re lucky to have a guy like that leading this thing.’’ — Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy
Running backs (5/6)
They’ll likely keep: David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Trestan Ebner, Darrynton Evans, Khari Blasingame (fullback).
On the bubble: De’Montre Tuggle.
Battle to watch: How the Bears divide up the workload between starter Montgomery and backup Herbert. Last season, Getsy’s Packers gave starter Aaron Jones 11.4 rushes per game and backup A.J. Dillon 11.
Big number: 4.41 — Yards per carry Herbert averaged in the four games Montgomery was injured.
He said it: ‘‘He’s quick and shifty. He’s going to help us a lot.’’ — Montgomery, on Ebner
Wide receivers (6/13)
They’ll likely keep: Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones,N’Keal Harry, Dazz Newsome.
On the bubble: Tajae Sharpe (non-football injury list), Nsimba Webster,Isaiah Coulter, Chris Finke, David Moore, Kevin Shaa, Dante Pettis.
Battle to watch: The Bears against every available receiver in the league. The guess here is that the Bears will sign at least two wideouts by Week 1.
Big number: 2 — Catches by Newsome last season. He’s one of two returning Bears receivers who caught a pass for them in 2021.
He said it: ‘‘If it’s to prove they can play [or] proving they can sustain success over multiple years, I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder to prove that they are that guy. We’ll see.’’ — General manager Ryan Poles, on the receivers
Tight ends (3/6)
They’ll likely keep: Cole Kmet, James O’Shaughnessy, Ryan Griffin.
On the bubble: Jake Tonges, Rysen John, Chase Allen.
Battle to watch: Kmet against expectations. He made a jump last season but needs another one. With journeymen behind him, he’s one of a handful of players the Bears least can afford to lose.
Big number: 0 — Touchdown catches by Kmet last season.
He said it: ‘‘When we get in the red zone, [Kmet] is gonna be somebody that we’re gonna lean on, for sure.’’ — Getsy
Offensive line (9/16)
They’ll likely keep: LT Riley Reiff, LG Cody Whitehair, C Lucas Patrick, RG Michael Schofield, RT Larry Borom, C/G Sam Mustipher, T Teven Jenkins, T Braxton Jones, G Ja’Tyre Carter.
On the bubble: Doug Kramer, Zach Thomas, Lachavious Simmons, Dieter Eiselen, Jean Delance, Julien Davenport, Shon Coleman.
Battle to watch: Reiff and Schofield against Father Time. It’s a bad sign that both veterans, signed on the eve of camp, are favorites to start. It’s an even worse one that Patrick broke his thumb during the second practice.
Big number: 83 — Pro Football Focus’ free-agent ranking of Reiff, one spot ahead of former Bears tackle Germain Ifedi. The site predicted that ‘‘franchises with a disastrous situation at tackle may turn to him late in the process to plug a hole.’’ Bingo.
He said it: ‘‘[The Bears’ young tackles] are athletic. Real athletic. They’re going to become seasoned. Obviously, it takes time, especially nowadays in the NFL with pass rushers.’’ — Reiff
Defensive line (9/15)
They’ll likely keep: Robert Quinn, Justin Jones, Angelo Blackson, Trevis Gipson, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Mario Edwards, Khyiris Tonga, Dominique Robinson, Mike Pennel.
On the bubble: Carson Taylor, Charles Snowden, LaCale London, Micah Dew-Treadway, Auzoyah Alufohai, Sam Kamara.
Battle to watch: Quinn against the trade market. One year after setting the Bears’ single-season sack record, Quinn is a rare veteran the Bears haven’t moved — yet.
Big number: 10 — Pro Football Focus gave Gipson the 10th-best pass-rush grade in the NFL last season, behind nine (mostly) household names: Myles Garrett, Maxx Crosby, T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Rashan Gary, Nick Bosa, Jonathan Greenard, Von Miller and Chandler Jones.
He said it: ‘‘It’s good to have him back and be in the same environment as him.’’ — Gipson, on Quinn, who skipped practices in the spring
They’ll likely keep: Roquan Smith (PUP list), Nicholas Morrow, Matt Adams, Caleb Johnson, Joe Thomas.
On the bubble: Noah Dawkins, C.J. Avery, Christian Albright, Jack Sanborn.
Battle to watch: Smith against Poles. Both sides have remained respectful in a contract-extension standoff that has kept Smith away from practice for the first week of camp. The closer it stretches toward the regular season, however, the more disruptive it becomes.
Big number: $98.5 million — That’s how much the Colts’ Shaquille Leonard got on a five-year deal last season, a number Smith will try to top.
He said it: ‘‘He’s the heart and soul of the defense. His presence is always missed when he’s not there.’’ — Safety Eddie Jackson, on Smith
They’ll likely keep: Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Kindle Vildor, Tavon Young, Thomas Graham, Duke Shelley.
On the bubble: Lamar Jackson, BoPete Keyes, Michael Joseph, Jaylon Jones, Greg Stroman, Jayson Stanley.
Battle to watch: Where will Gordon play? The rookie’s ability to toggle between outside cornerback and nickel back gives the Bears flexibility to compare players across roles. That means Vildor, Graham and Young are competing against one another.
Big number: 103.3 — The passer rating the Bears’ defense allowed last season, the highest in the NFL.
He said it: ‘‘The plays that [coordinator Alan Williams] calls may be different. But for me, my techniques, my zones really are the same. I mean, some of the reads and things, some of the progressions may be slightly different. But the defense is the defense.’’ — Johnson
They’ll likely keep: Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Elijah Hicks, Dane Cruikshank.
On the bubble: A.J. Thomas, Jon Alexander.
Battle to watch: Can Cruikshank catch up? He missed organized team activities and began camp on the non-football injury list, but he can be a special-teams weapon. He played on 83% of the Titans’ kicking downs in 2019 and on 51% last season.
Big number: 3 — Takeaways by Houston-Carson in 419 defensive downs last season. Entering 2021, he only had played 176 in five seasons.
He said it: ‘‘You’ve just got to be patient. I am going to be patient. However long it takes.’’ — Jackson
They’re keeping: K Cairo Santos, P Trenton Gill, LS Patrick Scales.
Battle to watch: Gill might kick off instead of Santos.
Big number: 6 — Field goals missed by Santos in two seasons. Cody Parkey missed seven in 2018.
He said it: ‘‘It can change minute-to-minute, quarter-to-quarter. So you just have to be on top of those situations, and it just changes.’’ — Special-teams coordinator Richard Hightower, on Soldier Field weather