The First Projections For Justin Fields, DJ Moore, Tremaine Edmunds, and Others Are OUT!

We’ve got about four months until competitive football grips our souls. But thanks to ESPN, we can take a peek into the future as it just released a new batch of player and team projections.

And when it comes to the Chicago Bears, there are some pleasant surprises. Some of which I’m ready to dig into right now. Sure, there are also some numbers that are unsettling. We’ll sort through that, too. I’m just excited that we have something to look forward to when football activities resume this summer.

You can check out ESPN’s projections here, but I wanted to share some thoughts on numbers that stood out to me:

Justin Fields is going to go off … AGAIN! Fields’ 2022 breakout appears to be just the beginning. At least, that’s the takeaway based on ESPN’s early projections. Clay’s numbers have Fields going for 3,173 passing yards and 22 passing TDs to go along with 909 (!) rushing yards and 6 ground scores. I wish punching in the stats would’ve come out to a better passer rating than 89.5, but even that number would represent a career best for Fields. As would the 62.4% completion rate and 7.2 yards per pass attempt.

If you’re a fantasy player, Fields’ projected production puts him as QB6. Yeah, I’m totally over-drafting Fields this summer and will not have any regrets about it.

DJ Moore won’t reach 1,000 receiving yards? I was staring long and hard before realizing that these projections had Moore falling short of a 1,000-yard receiving season. But ESPN has him down for 64 catches, 927 yards, and 7 touchdowns. In fairness, that’s a strong season by Bears pass-catching standards. But the expectations are higher for Moore, who averaged 1,175 receiving yards from 2019-21. It’ll be genuinely disappointing if Moore doesn’t get to 1,000 yards.

Spin zone! The Bears’ receiving corps is actually a strength. Maybe Moore doesn’t get to 1,000 receiving yards because of the supporting cast behind him. The projections have Chase Claypool as Chicago’s second-leading receiver (51 catches, 674 yards, 4 TDs). Meanwhile, ESPN’s prognostications have Darnell Mooney (49 catches, 614 yards, 5 TD) coming in right behind Claypool. The Bears having three wideouts with 600+ yard seasons is unheard of in these parts. To put it in perspective, Chicago didn’t even have one last year.

Cole Kmet gets in on the action, too. In addition to the contributions of Moore, Mooney, and Claypool to the passing attack, the projections for TE1 (54 catches, 578 yards, 4 TD) are encouraging. Might want to get that extension done sooner and not later.

ESPN’s forecast for the defense seems to be far less optimistic. The overall defensive rank is 29th of 32 teams. Trevis Gipson (5.7 sacks), Rasheem Green (5.6 sacks), and Justin Jones (4.1 sacks) are the projected top sack artists on a squad predicted to finish with the fewest sacks in football next year. Yikes.

At least the free agent additions project to provide value. OK, so the Bears spent gobs of money on off-ball linebackers this offseason. For what it’s worth, it’ll look like money well spent if T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds live up to their expectations. Edwards going for a team-leading 152 tackles and Edmunds chipping in with 141 of his own looks good on paper.

A bounce-back year for Cairo Santos. The Bears’ kicking game returning to form would be a welcome thought. That’s what ESPN’s numbers foresee for Santos. I would be fine with Santos having just one missed PAT (40/41) and an 88% success rate on field goals (29/33).

In the end…

The Bears look like a better team than they were at this time last year. And it shows it in ESPN’s projections, which has their projected win total at 7.8 wins. More than doubling your win total from one season to the next would mean a sizable step for this franchise. After bottoming out, going from the worst team in football to being in the middle of the pack would suggest the arrow is pointing in the right direction. Win the games you’re supposed to, then steal a game, and that win total could be even higher.

It’s too early to put too much stock into these numbers. But they do provide a solid floor to work from as we start our post-NFL Draft journey. From where I stand, the Bears are on the verge of being bad, but competitive to competitive, but actually turning some of those would’ve-been-losses last year into wins this season.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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