Bears News: Getting to Know DLs: Jones, Harris, Baskerville

Bears News: Getting to Know DLs: Jones, Harris, Baskerville

by - Senior Writer -

Along with a struggling offensive line and a poor passing attack, the Bears had a lot of holes on last year's roster, which is why they finished with the worst record in the league. One of those holes that get overlooked is how bad their defense was.

Anytime you trade away Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, and Roquan Smith and fail to resign Akiem Hicks, things will be a struggle. Those guys played a significant role in the Bears defensive success for years, and without them, the team struggled. Struggles aside, I don't think anyone expected them to struggle as badly as they did, as they ranked 31st in team defense, only ahead of the Detroit Lions.

Chicago ranked dead last in stopping the run, allowing 4.9 YPC. They ranked last in QB pressures with 43 and ranked last with 20 sacks. That won't cut it if you want to be taken seriously in the NFL, and the Bears made sure to address that this offseason. During the first wave of free agency Ryan Poles made it a point to address the trenches on this team, especially on defense.

He did that by adding several top-flight LBs capable of making plays and drafting Gervon Dexter in Round 2, as Chicago will have a vastly different-looking defense this season. Along with that came the undrafted free agent route, where Chicago selected three additional contracts to participate in camp.

Granted, these players will be long shots to make the roster, but you never know what will happen when camp begins. That is what the rookie mini-camp is for. It gives undrafted players a chance to prove themselves in front of an NFL team, hoping to land a 53-man or practice squad contract.

D'Anthony Jones DL

When discussing undrafted free agent steals, look no further than the former Houston Cougar D'Anthony Jones. The 6-2 270-pound EDGE rusher is freakishly athletic and capable of wreaking havoc on any play.

Despite playing in just 26 career games, 13 of which came last season, Jones was about as productive as he could be, leaving the decision for teams to pass on him a huge question mark. Jones picked up 65 career tackles, with 23.5 coming for a loss. Along with that comes the 15 career sacks, including a career-high eight this past season. This is the one name that many expect to earn a roster spot out of camp, as the talent and production are there.

Jalen Harris DL

Having a successful defense starts up front in the trenches, as you have to stop the run. That is something the Bears are hoping to do much better with this season, and Harris could help. At 6-4 and 257 pounds, Harris moved from your typical DE position to more of an EDGE rusher to increase production.

The son of former Bears LB Sean Harris, Jalen appeared in 56 games with Arizona, picking up 171 career tackles. Along with that came 26 tackles-for-loss, 14.0 sacks, 11 pass breakups, and three forced fumbles. Last year he established career highs with 51 tackles and 7.5 TFLs, along with 3.5 sacks, as he emerged as the most consistent producer on the Arizona defensive line.

Micah Baskerville LB

While the Defensive line plays a huge role in the defense's success, so does the LB unit, as they make up the back half of the front seven. The Bears knew they needed to improve their LB room, so they invested so much into that room during free agency. Baskerville is at a different level than those pickups, but look for him to give his all in camp.

A bit small at 6-0 and 224 pounds, Baskerville played much bigger than his size indicates, which will be crucial at the next level. In 54 games, including 30 starts with the LSU Tigers, Baskerville was a tackling machine as he finished his collegiate career with 260 career tackles, 22.5 of which came as tackles for a loss. He added four career sacks and led the Tigers defense with 89 tackles as a fifth-year senior this past season.

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