Breaking down the Bears 53-Man roster on defense
Edmunds should be a force this season (David Banks - USA Today Sports)

Breaking down the Bears 53-Man roster on defense

by - Senior Writer -

The word defense comes to mind when you think of the Bears and their rich history. After all, this team was called the Monsters of the Midway for a reason, as they also have had some of the best defenses in the NFL to help lead the way.

That wasn't the case last season, as the Bears not only gutted their defense throughout the season but finished with one of the worst statistical seasons in franchise history, if not their worst. That forced the hand of Ryan Poles to do some significant retooling this offseason, and he spent a ton of his free agent capital looking to improve the defense.

It will be up to Alan Williams and his players to prove the moves made by Poles were the right ones, as the Bears defense needs to be better. With the 53-man roster officially out, here is what the defensive side looks like as we head into week one next week.

Defensive Line (9): Yannick Ngakoue, DT Andrew Billings, DT Justin Jones, DE DeMarcus Walker, Rasheem Green, Zacch Pickens, Gervon Dexter Sr., Dominique Robinson, Terrell Lewis. Three things when looking at this list. Rookies Zacch Pickens and Gervon Dexter will get a ton of playing time and could easily push for a starting spot by season's end.

Adding Ngakoue will be significant in helping the Bears pass rush as long as others step up. However, the most important thing to take away from this list is not having Trevis Gipson a part of it. In case you missed it, Gipson requested a trade from the Bears last week, and Chicago was looking for a partner.

After not finding one, they released him so he could look for a fresh start. That is terrible news for the Bears pass rush, as he was supposed to be the one to take the pressure off of Ngakoue. Someone else will have to step up and pick up the slack.

Linebackers (5): T.J. Edwards, Tremaine Edmunds, Jack Sanborn, Noah Sewell, Dylan Cole. Despite being shorthanded, the Bears are in a much better spot at the LB position, as Edwards and Edmunds were huge free agents. This room is drastically different from last season, as Sanborn is the only returning LB from week one last year.

Even with a steady crew of names on this list, the Bears may have to cut a defensive lineman or someone in the secondary to add another LB. Playing with five LBs this early in the season puts the defense in a tough spot, as they are just one injury away from having just one reserve option.

Cornerbacks (6): Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Tyrique Stevenson, Terell Smith, Josh Blackwell, and Jaylon Jones. Granted, the defense struggled last season, but the secondary held their own as they were getting tested all season. Any time you finish a season with less than 25 sacks, you are not getting after the QB, which puts more pressure on the secondary.

The overall numbers were not great because of it, but they played better than the numbers show. Johnson is a legitimate No. 1 CB on the verge of a lockdown corner. Gordon will be a star, and Stevenson has the physical tools to make a significant impact. The rest of the names will play a considerable role as reserve players.

Safety (4): Eddie Jackson, Jaquon Brisker, AJ Thomas, and Elijah Hicks: If you could make an argument as the most complete position on the defensive side of the ball, safety has to be near the top of that list. How can it not be when you have a former all-pro in Jackson rounding back into form paired with what looks to be a future all-pro in Brisker?

Behind them are a pair of backups that may only see the field a little but will be important when they are on the field. That is something Poles has stressed when building this team. He wanted depth and talent across the board and has done a great job of building that.

Specialists (3): Cairo Santos (K), Trenton Gill (P) and Patrick Scales (LS)

While the defense looks vastly improved and has much more depth than a season ago, some names were left off the list.

Defensive players who were cut on the final roster cut-down day included: Micah Baskerville (LB), Travis Bell (DT), Macon Clark (CB), DeMarquis Gates (LB), Trevis Gipson (DE), Jalen Harris (DE), D'Anthony Jones (DE), Michael Ojemudia (CB), Bravvion Roy (DT), Davion Taylor (LB), Bralen Trahan (S), Kindle Vildor (CB), Barrington Wade (LB), Mykal Walker (LB) and Kendall Williamson (S), Andrew Brown (DT) Greg Stroman Jr (CB).

Where to start with this list? Gipson is the biggest name, but after not finding a trade partner, the writing was on the wall. Rookie Kendall Williamson was seen as a late-round steal but didn't do enough in camp to earn a spot. Baskerville and Trahan are surprising cuts as both turned a ton of heads in camp. However, the most surprising name on this list has to be Vildor.

A multi-year starter for the Bears, Vildor was expected to compete for the starting Nickel CB spot or, at the very worst, a bench role. Seeing him released shows you the depth Poles feels he has, which could be a great thing.

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