Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two defensive standouts and a speedster

Top 30 Bears for 2023: Two defensive standouts and a speedster

by - Senior Writer -

We are starting to get into the area of this team that will be considered the difference makers as we finally crack the top 10. The players in this area will not only be starters but know how important it is to be a leader and how valuable they are for the position they play.

While some of the names in this section may be a surprise, there are names that shouldn't shock you when you look at the overall importance of their role on this team. Two of them come from the defensive side of the ball, and one of them is a newcomer hoping to make a lasting impression in his first year with the Bears.

12. TJ Edwards

As expected, one of the many newcomers on this team falls on this list, and it is LB TJ Edwards. Signed to a free agent contract this offseason, Edwards has a chance to play for his hometown team after spending time with the Philadelphia Eagles the past few years. Not a full-time starter right away, Edwards finally showed his potential the past two seasons and went from special teamer to legitimate playmaker on defense.

This season will be no different, as the Bears will expect a lot from him. With guys like Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and others no longer on this team, the Bear's LB room has not only taken a hit but is in desperate need of an influx of talent. Edwards is one of those guys that can give them that influx of talent, and the Bears are eagerly awaiting his debut.

One of the more athletic LBs in the free agent class, Edwards doesn't do anything extravagant but does the little things that can help you win games. One of those things is stopping the run, which was an issue for this team last season, and they will need to address that if they want to get back on top. Edwards will help that and will have a great season.

11. Tevis Gipson

Two years ago, there is no way Gipson lands this high on this list, if at all. However, coming off a season where he led the team in sacks, Gipson is not only on this list but is landing high due to his importance on the defensive line.

Make no mistake about it. The Bear's pass rush was horrible last season, as they ranked dead last in the NFL with 20 sacks. Gipson was the one guy that could get after the QB, and that will be crucial again this season for the Bears to have any shot at winning this division. Gipson may not be the biggest, strongest, or most athletic defensive lineman out there, but he is a grinder that the Bears love.

This guy has put in the work since arriving in Chicago, and he was finally awarded a starting opportunity last season. Not only that, but he rewarded the Bears with a solid player on the defensive line and one looking to improve and have an even better season this year.

10. Darnell Mooney

While you could make a case that several players are equally as important on the offensive side of the ball, no one has more pressure on him than Darnell Mooney, at least in the WR room. Mooney was a mid-round selection by Ryan Pace a few years ago and emerged as the team's No. 1 weapon in 2022.

He formed an incredible bond with Justin Fields in 2021, where he finished with more than 1000 yards and eight scores. He was expecting to deliver big things again last season, only to get off to a slow start before an injury ended his season in week nine. Before the injury, however, Mooney was different from the same player, and it did hurt the passing game.

Mooney is again dealing with an ankle injury this season, but all signs expect him to be ready for training camp. They need him to be prepared as he is the only WR with true chemistry with Fields. Like in his rookie season, Mooney will not be the No. 1 WR; from all accounts, he may not be the No. 2.

Mooney will again move into the slot role, which may be his best role. He isn't as big or strong as the WRs on the outside, but he is a burner and a terrific route runner. Both are things you look for in a slot WR, and the Bears hope he can replicate something close to his 2021 by moving him back to that position.

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