Which Chicago Bears players will surprise everyone in 2022?
The Chicago Bears have been the subject of criticism this offseason, including one analyst going so far as to say that Chicago's roster "sucks." Safe to say, there aren't many who believe in the Bears heading into the 2022 season.
While the roster certainly isn't the strongest on paper, there are some players on this roster who have a chance to be pleasant surprises this season. It includes new additions by general manager Ryan Poles or returning players on the roster looking to break out.
Our Bears Wire staff is sharing their thoughts on the players they believe will surprise people this season, including some under-the-radar names and veterans looking to prove themselves.
LB Nicholas Morrow
Alyssa Barbieri: The offense has been the focal point surrounding the Bears this offseason. But there are some big changes on the defense under Matt Eberflus as they make the transition to a 4-3 defense. While there aren’t any questions about Roquan Smith, who’s poised for a mega contract extension, there were some about who would line up beside him. Chicago is banking on free-agent addition Nicholas Morrow to serve an important role in Eberflus’ defense. While the team hasn’t made any definitive decision about where Morrow or Roquan Smith will line up – be it weak side or middle – Morrow has a chance to establish himself as a vital member of Chicago’s defense.
Morrow, 26, is an ascending player in the league and has gone under-the-radar this offseason. The former Raiders linebacker missed last season with an injury, but he had a career year in 2020 that shows his potential. Not to mention, working with the likes of Eberflus and linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi – guys who know linebackers – should only improve his stock. Morrow is a versatile athlete with the ability to play all three linebacker roles, which makes an important asset on defense.
CB Tavon Young
Brendan Sugrue: One of the most under-the-radar free agents the Bears signed earlier this offseason is cornerback Tavon Young. The veteran was a stud for the Baltimore Ravens for a number of seasons and turned into one of the better nickel corners in the league for a bit. The problem has been his health, but Young is coming off a season in which he played in every game.
Now joining the Bears on a one-year deal, Young is expected to compete for the nickel corner position with Thomas Graham Jr. The latter has had a nice offseason program as a holdover from the previous regime, but general manager Ryan Poles sought out Young to help bolster a struggling secondary.
Quarterbacks had a rating of just 85.1 when targeting Young in 2021, significantly lower than players like Jaylon Johnson (101.9), Duke Shelley (100.0) and Kindle Vildor (136.1). Young isn’t being talked about yet, but I expect his play to do the talking for him when the season begins.
WR N'Keal Harry
Ryan Fedrau: With the trade for N’Keal Harry, the Bears now have another weapon for Justin Fields — if you want to call him one. Harry hasn’t proved much in his NFL career, yet, but he spent most of his time in New England hurt. If he can stay healthy, there’s a good chance Harry can live up to his potential with a fresh start in Chicago.
Why do I love this move so much? The Bears traded a 2024 seventh-round pick for a former first rounder. Harry is just 24 years old, one year younger than this year’s draft pick, Velus Jones Jr.
With a lot of time for growth at just 24, this is a steal for the Bears. A healthy Harry is going to impress many. He wasn’t given a fair shake with the Patriots. With Chicago’s lack of depth at the position, he will have the chances to prove his worth in the NFL.