The Bears have spent much of the past couple years focusing their efforts on locating and developing young talent to return to contention. How is that plan going? According to ESPN’s leaguewide rankings, the Bears now boast the 10th-best group of under-25 talent in the NFL.
That’s up eight spots from a year ago, and puts the Bears ahead of 21 other teams in the rankings. It’s an indication of the warming perception around the football world to the talent being assembled by general manager Ryan Pace in Chicago.
On offense, things obviously start with second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky, whose development could make or break the Bears’ season. The 23-year-old is considered a bit of a wild card at the game’s most important position entering 2018, but there’s no doubt he has the chance to improve with more experience, better weapons around him and a new coach in Matt Nagy.
Many of the Bears’ other key offensive talents are also below 25 years old. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, both 23, lead the way in the backfield. Allen Robinson turns 25 later this month, so he’s off the list, but recent second-round picks Anthony Miller and Adam Shaheen are both 23. There’s also rookie offensive lineman James Daniels, who doesn’t turn 21 until September, making him one of the youngest players in the NFL.
The defense similarly boasts several key young players, led by unsigned first-round pick Roquan Smith. Eddie Goldman, Eddie Jackson and Jonathan Bullard – all 24 – should also play meaningful roles starting Week 1.
The Rams lead the rankings after the breakout performances of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley last season. The Chiefs, Saints, Browns and Buccaneers round out the top five. The only NFC North team ahead of the Bears in the rankings is the Vikings, who come in eighth behind the strength of Stefon Diggs, Danielle Hunter and Dalvin Cook. The Lions come in 15th, while the Packers are down to 25th.