Young talent is always at the core of contending teams, and the Chicago Bears hope to have plenty of emerging stars after revamping their roster and coaching staff over the past two+ years.
In fact, the Bears have one of the league’s youngest rosters, with at least eight projected starters who will play in their age 25 season or younger in 2018. And while several of these players could be lined up to have breakout seasons, the team they play for is still coming off a three-year run, which ended with the head coach getting fired after posting a record of 14-34.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Pro Football Focus’ list of 25 players under age 25 didn’t include a single member of the Bears. Not a single one. Sigh.
In fact, it’s something of a surprise that safety Adrian Amos is off the list, especially since he was a PFF All-Pro last season and cracked the site’s list of top-101 players. Perhaps Jordan Howard should have made it, but four other running backs – Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, and Kareem Hunt – checked in ahead of Chicago’s leading rusher. Maybe there is a case for Mitch Trubisky, but not when Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have proven more in their brief careers.
The Bears have young talent, but there is a bulk of it that hasn’t shown much more beyond a flash here and there to merit much consideration. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the top-25 under 25 list created by Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports.
You’ll find Howard sneaking onto the list at No. 25, sliding into a spot that was slated to go to 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster. Howard is a lot of things, but notable for this list is that he is younger than Foster and has two seasons of superb play in what Howard described as a basic and predictable offense orchestrated by Dowell Loggains. Howard has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and only two backs – Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell – have gained more yards on the ground in the last two seasons than Howard’s 2,435. Looks worthy enough to be on the list to me.
A pair of Bears players miss the cut, but their inclusion on the fringes is encouraging for those of us who want to see a silver lining in the cloud of snubs. Wide receiver Allen Robinson was left off, while center Cody Whitehair would have made the list had he not just turned 25. Next year’s list could feature a handful of under-25 standouts on the Bears. Howard and Trubisky will be eligible again, as will receiver Anthony Miller, left guard James Daniels, running back Tarik Cohen, linebacker Roquan Smith, and nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
So if the Bears can pull a rabbit out of their hats and produce the team’s first non-losing season since 2013, it will likely be because of the contributions from the team’s youngest players. At that point, it would be nearly impossible to not put multiple Chicago standouts on the list.