UA-59049186-1 2020 Chicago Bears Preview: Inside Linebacker - Good if it Goes

2020 Chicago Bears Preview: Inside Linebacker

(Photo credit: Joe Robbins, Getty Images)

Roquan Smith is one of the greatest Americans of all time and that’s coming from a youth football coaching legend, not just some random clown. Drafted 8th overall out of Georgia in 2018, Smith had an excellent rookie campaign as part of the league’s #1 defense. Last year, this space forecasted a big year as Smith looked to build upon that rookie season. While he wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, that big year didn’t exactly come to fruition. Reports out of camp have been quite positive and indicate that Smith is ready to make the leap and become one of the game’s top linebackers. Your author has been a big fan since Smith’s college days and has compared his college tape to Derrick Brooks given his skill in coverage and ability to play sideline to sideline. This space predicts a large step towards delivering upon that comparison.

Danny Trevathan returns after a 2019 cut short by a nasty elbow injury. Signed as a free agent in 2016, Trevathan instantly boosted an ILB unit in desperate need of help. Since then, he’s been a solid piece in the middle of the Chicago defense, thanks to his skill in both the run and passing games. The lone negative about Trevathan’s tenure in Chicago is that a chunk of it has been spent sidelined bu injury – Trevathan has missed more than a full season’s worth of games, 17 total, in his time here. Only in 2018 did he play all 16 games. Last year, the Bears had the depth to weather injuries at ILB. This year, uh…

Joel Iyiegbuniwe, henceforth referred to as “Iggy” because that’s enough of spelling that out, thank you very much, is in line for a bigger role this year after spending his first two seasons largely on special teams. A year ago, your author had him down for two defensive snaps, which makes him the most-experienced backup on the roster.

Josh Woods is the other man providing depth at ILB. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland last year, Woods showed flashes in the 2019 pre-season, but did not play any defensive snaps in the regular season. Given Trevathan’s injury history, the lack of linebacker depth is concerning. The “glass half-full” outlook is that last year, the Bears were able to get solid play from guys who previously hadn’t done very much. Perhaps the staff can coach these guys up, too.

 

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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