Top 30 Bears for 2023: Young secondary duo and a big playmaker
Brisker is a special talent in the secondary (Brian Fluharty - USA Today Sports)

Top 30 Bears for 2023: Young secondary duo and a big playmaker

by - Senior Writer -

We are nearing the end of our most impactful players of the 2023 series, as we are down to the final six. This area of the list shouldn't surprise anyone, as all of the names played a huge role last season and will again play a huge role this season.

The only difference, some argue, is the order in which some of these players are put in, as you can't go wrong either way. This installment is about the secondary and an emerging offensive weapon that will play for a contract this season.

6. Jaquan Brisker

At some point, the Bears will move on from Eddie Jackson, and it would be nice to have his future replacement already an established leader on this team. 2022 second-round pick Jaquan Brisker could be that guy after coming away with a fantastic rookie season. Brisker was viewed as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, steals in the draft last season, and he showed why from the moment he stepped on the field.

Drafting Brisker was one of Ryan Poles's best moves thus far, as the former Penn State standout was a playmaker on defense as a rookie. The former Penn State standout made an immediate impact, recovering a fumble in Week 1 and recording a crucial tackle that helped secure a victory. That would be a precursor for the rest of the season as the rookie shined, whether he was making plays in coverage or blitzing the quarterback.

Brisker finished the season with 104 tackles (five for a loss), four sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, two passes defended, and one interception in 15 games. His four sacks led the team, and his 104 tackles were second. Look for him to take on an even more prominent role this season, as Brisker has emerged into one of the Bear's defensive leaders in only one year.

5. Jaylon Johnson

Having a lockdown CB is crucial to any team's success, and the Bears have one in Johnson. After being drafted in the second round four years ago out of the University of Utah, Johnson showed immediate promise as a rookie playing across from Kyle Fuller. Once Fuller was dealt to the Broncos, Johnson was forced to slide into the No. 1 CB role, which he took head-on.

Unlike most top CBs that come away with tons of interceptions, that isn't part of Johnson's game. Instead, he does all the little things well that often get overlooked, and that alone makes him a better player. Johnson is known for high-pointing the football and breaking up tons of passes. He has also been a legitimate run-stopper and a guy who isn't afraid to get in there to make a play.

Despite his lack of interceptions, QBs complete fewer than 40% of their passes against him, so they have gone less and less in his direction over the past few years. Entering the final year of his rookie deal in 2023, Johnson will have to prove he is the answer for the Bears at the CB position, and there is no reason to suggest he isn't.

4. Cole Kmet

TEs are a valuable part of the Luke Getsy scheme, and you found out how valuable they were last year. After an up-and-down first two seasons in the league, Kmet broke out in his third season with the Bears and emerged as the most consistent pass catcher for the Chicago offense in 2022.

Granted, he may not have the breakaway speed that some of the league's TEs do, but Kmet was still just as reliable, if not more, and became Justin Fields' most trusted target by season's end. Expected to be more of a possession TE who could move the chains, Kmet showed the ability to stretch the field last season as he put up one of the best seasons in Bears history for a TE.

Along with that, Kmet also showed a massive improvement in his blocking, which was a massive win for the Bears. Like Johnson, Kmet is playing for a long-term extension with this team, and he will need to duplicate what he did last season to earn that extension. You could argue with the weapons the Bears have brought in around him; Kmet is on pace to have a better season in 2023, which will only elevate Field's game to the next level.

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