When releasing the first half of the site’s top 101 NFL Player rankings, PFF had four Chicago Bears on the list. It was one hell of a start – Cornerbacks Kyle Fuller (66th), Bryce Callahan (81st), and Prince Amukamara (100th) were joined by nose tackle Eddie Goldman (88th) among the elite NFL talents – but you knew more had to be on the way. As expected, the top half of the list featured more Bears!
Three more Bears were added to PFF’s list of 101 best players, including edge rusher Khalil Mack (10th), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (11th), and safety Eddie Jackson (14th). Three elite Bears defenders in the top-15? It doesn’t get much better than that. In fact, the Bears are the only team with three players of any kind ranking in the top-15. Again: That’s not just defensive players, that’s any players. You can check out the complete list here to see where your favorite non-Bears rank.
Mack checked in as the highest-ranking member of the Bears to make PFF’s Top 101, earning the No. 10 overall ranking. New year, new team, same old stuff for Mack, who is making his fifth appearance on Pro Football Focus’ annual list. Mack’s place among the NFL’s elite is going to be a given, especially when he racks up 73 total pressures, six forced fumbles, and posts a 90.7 overall grade – which was the second best among the league’s edge defenders.
Hicks comes in right behind Mack at No. 10 after a season in which he earned the fourth best grade among interior defensive linemen. This is the second consecutive season Hicks has made PFF’s top players list and the only Bears player to make it in each of the last two years while playing in Chicago. Hicks was a force as a pass-rusher and run-defender as he ranked in the top-10 in pressures and stops, while also knocking down five passes and forcing three fumbles.
Jackson is the highest-ranking first-year entry among Bears defenders. What’s left to say about Jackson that we haven’t already discussed? He put up one of the all-time great seasons PFF has ever charted, was selected as an All-Pro, made his way to the Pro Bowl, racked up in-season awards, pieced together an impressive highlight reel, and still has a ton of upside! This probably isn’t the last time you’ll see Jackson on this list.
Looking back on this list, it’s worth pointing out that six of the seven Bears were on last year’s defense that ranked in the top-10 in scoring and yardage. We thought Chicago’s top defenders were snubbed last year when only Hicks and safety Adrian Amos made the cut, but at least it’s good to see that the Bears’ winning ways (thanks in part to the Mack trade) has elevated the profile of the unit’s best players. Finally, some RESPECT.
Noticeably absent from PFF’s top-101 are Bears who play on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, Hicks also scored a rushing touchdown, while Jackson and Amukamara played offensive snaps, but I don’t believe that was taken into consideration for this ranking.
The most notable omission might be quarterback Mitch Trubisky … and not because he did anything special to deserve consideration. Draft classmates Patrick Mahomes (3rd) and Deshaun Watson (77th) both made the list as new entries after their strong seasons and have separated themselves in the eyes of PFF’s analysts. So while Trubisky clearly made strides in his development from his rookie season, more needs to be done in order for him to reach the heights of the other first-round quarterbacks from 2017.