Jaylon Johnson, Tashaun Gipson Sr., and Germain Ifedi Won the OTHER Starting Jobs at Bears Camp

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Jaylon Johnson, Tashaun Gipson Sr., and Germain Ifedi Won the OTHER Starting Jobs at Bears Camp

Chicago Bears

Contrary to popular belief, quarterback wasn’t the only starting job up for grabs this summer.

The Chicago Bears released their first depth chart for their 101st season in the NFL over the weekend. And in doing so, revealed who won all the other important camp competitions over which we obsessed all summer. Let’s take a look at the big winners.

Right Guard

Germain Ifedi defeated Rashaad Coward

The Bears’ offensive line play stunk last year. And yet, four of five starters from last year’s opener will return for Week 1, 2020. The only newcomer in the group is Germain Ifedi, who defeated incumbent Rashaad Coward for the right to start where Kyle Long was once entrenched.

Ifedi is a fascinating option on which the Bears are rolling the dice to start the season. He has plenty of starting experience (60 starts over the last four years), versatility (played right tackle, too), and the prospect pedigree that comes with being a first-round pick in 2016. And in an attempt to lock down the starting job, Ifedi reached out to Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews for tips and training. That’s good hustle!

But being an intriguing option isn’t the same as being a good one. To this point, Ifedi has yet to live up to his draft billing. That the Seahawks – a team constantly looking for line help to protect Russell Wilson – allowed Ifedi to walk away in free agency is telling. As is the fact that Ifedi was able to net just a one-year “prove it” deal from Chicago. Perhaps this buy-low scenario pays off like it did when the Bears took a chance on cornerback Prince Amukamara. If it doesn’t, then the Bears’ offense could be in a world of trouble.

Safety

Tashaun Gipson Sr. defeated Deon Bush

Much like the Ifedi-Coward battle, this head-to-head competition between also saw the newcomer beating out a returning player with starting experience.

Tashaun Gipson Sr. has more playing experience, a more decorated résumé, and more upside than Deon Bush. That doesn’t mean Bush isn’t a capable defender. Heck, it doesn’t even mean he isn’t a starting caliber safety. It’s just that, ultimately, it made sense for the Bears to roll with a more proven playmaker at the position. And frankly, pairing Gipson with Eddie Jackson just seems like a perfect short-term fix at the position.

This might be a hot take, but I maintain that the Bears have three starting-caliber safeties on their defense. So let’s keep that in mind as we try to map out some of the creative options the secondary can throw at opposing offenses.

Cornerback

Jaylon Johnson to start opposite of Kyle Fuller

Sure, Jaylon Johnson’s competition for the starting cornerback gig got hurt (Artie Burns) or was part of the final round of cuts (Kevin Toliver II). But even if all things were equal, I think Johnson still would have earned the nod.

Don’t take it for granted that Johnson emerged as a Week 1 starter as a rookie. Starting-caliber rookie cornerbacks don’t grow on trees, but Johnson is different. The Bears’ other second-round pick was a top-5 corner according to PFF and ESPN rankings after a solid college career that was capped with second-team All-American honors. There was some first-round buzz for Johnson throughout the pre-draft process, but it’s possible that offseason shoulder surgery was too much of a risk for teams wanting immediate impact from a first-round corner. Heck, shoulder issues limited Johnson at several points during the ramp-up period of training camp. But by the end of it, Johnson was garnering rave reviews.

Johnson is finding inspiration in every cornerback taken before him in the 2020 NFL Draft, so look out!

Nose Tackle

Bilal Nichols is at the top of the depth chart, followed by John Jenkins

John Jenkins is the only traditional nose tackle option on the Bears’ roster. And yet, it’s Bilal Nichols who is listed at the top of the depth chart.

Nichols has some experience at nose tackle. He played there at Delaware and snagged some snaps at the position in his first two years as a pro. I find myself intrigued by Nichols’ speed game and how it will play against interior offensive linemen. However, I also feel a bit concerned about an unproven player at such an important position in the middle of Chicago’s defense.

“Snacks” … anyone?



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.