Getting to Know the 2018 Chicago Bears: Tight Ends
The Chicago Bears’ first training camp practice open to the public arrives on July 21 and we’ll be there, literally. But with training camp rapidly approaching and the team’s August 2 debut at the Hall of Fame Game around the corner, let’s take an early look at who’s on the team right now.
Previous: Quarterbacks, Running backs, Wide receivers.
Today: Tight ends
The Starters: Trey Burton (23 catches, 248 yards, 5 touchdowns in 15 games; 75.6 grade from Pro Football Focus), Adam Shaheen (12 catches, 127 yards, 3 touchdowns in 13 games; 72.4 grade from PFF)
The Reserves: Daniel Brown, Dion Sims, Colin Thompson, Ben Braunecker
Potential Training Camp Star: Adam Shaheen made waves in training camp last year despite being behind Zach Miller and Dion Sims on the depth chart. So if history repeats itself, Daniel Brown could be that guy in 2018. Brown will likely be the primary backup as the “U” tight end behind Burton, and his past as a wide receiver could work to his advantage in a role that takes advantage of his route-running and pass-catching ability. Brown and Sims could find themselves fighting for a roster spot by the time the Bears’ five-game preseason is in the books.
We Really Like: I don’t think we’ll see the Bears’ tight ends as one-dimensional pieces this year and I’m overjoyed about it. Chicago’s offense was so predictable last year, we knew run plays were coming when Adam Shaheen was on the field and could predict the ball was going in the air whenever Shaheen was on the sidelines. Matt Nagy promises to use tight ends differently this year, to the point where Shaheen is expected to get some burn on passing downs. There’s even some optimism regarding Dion Sims’ future!
We Might Be Worried About: Burton goes from TE3 in Philadelphia to TE1 in Chicago, so he’ll have to overcome the challenges that come with being at the top of a scouting report. There is a wide-ranging belief that Burton has a ton of upside, but getting him going might turn out to be an issue. If Burton isn’t the player he was signed to be, the Bears’ offense could have its issues because Sims and Shaheen are unproven pass-catchers who could have to expand their games and fill that role on the fly.
2018 Forecast: Should the Bears find themselves in the red zone more often in 2018 than they did in 2017, the team’s tight ends will help put touchdowns on the board rather than settle for field goals. Three of the six red zone targets Burton received last year were touchdown receptions. Six of the 14 total targets that went in Shaheen’s direction last year were inside-the-20, and three of those went for touchdowns. Mitch Trubisky posted a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone, but completed just 48.2 percent of his pass attempts on those plays. I feel as if having multiple targets to throw to in the scoring area will help boost those numbers quite a bit.