The NFL’s alternate acronym is said to mean “Not For Long” given the extremely short shelf lives of its players and their employment with their respective teams.
Football is a young man’s game with an emphasis on speed, size and strength, which leaves older players out in the cold and makes young athletes all the rage.
Every year there is a new crop of college talent which — on average — is more athletically gifted and talented than the class that came before if. And every year as a result of that, a wave of veterans gets shown the door.
The Chicago Bears had nine picks in the 2016 NFL Draft, and while not every rookie is guaranteed a spot on the final, 53-man roster, all of them are brought in for competition and wind up pushing the veterans for jobs.
Here’s a look at which Bears veterans will be on high alert to protect their jobs following April’s draft.
Sam Acho, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston.
The Bears turned their linebackers from a position of major weakness to one of potential strength following free agency and the draft. In the first round, the Bears tried to address their pass rush by selecting outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. That immediately puts pressure on the other outside ‘backers because the Bears are not going to cut a first-round pick. Unless Floyd packs on the pounds the rest of the offseason and proves to be a factor in run support, the Bears are likely to start Young or Houston opposite Pernell McPhee and rotate in Floyd.
Manny Ramirez, Ted Larsen, Charles Leno.
Veteran Matt Slauson was the first casualty when the Bears drafted guard Cody Whitehair in the second round of the draft. Slauson’s release puts Whitehair in good position to compete for the starting left guard spot. The Bears brought in Ramirez and Larsen to compete for playing time at guard and both are swing-centers who can back up Hroniss Grasu. Whitehair played mostly left tackle in college, but scouts fear his lack of length will prohibit him from playing outside in the NFL. But that doesn’t mean Leno is completely safe as the starting left tackle if he doesn’t produce.
Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton, Bruce Gaston.
The Bears had a lot of weaknesses along the defensive line and they got good value in the third round with the selection of Jonathan Bullard. Ferguson and Sutton were both high draft picks of former general manager Phil Emery, and they were selected to play in a 4-3 defense — which the Bears ditched in favor of the 3-4 front that they now play under John Fox. While each of them flashed the ability to make plays last year due to their raw talents, they are not natural fits in this scheme. The two of them and Gaston will have to fight for playing time and roster spots.
Christian Jones, John Timu.
After the Bears signed inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman in free agency, they drafted Nick Kwiatkoski in Round 4 of the draft. That suddenly created a logjam in the middle where last year’s starter, Jones, will suddenly be fighting for a spot. Timu is more of a special teamer, which is where Kwiatkoski will have to make a name for himself as a rookie.
Harold Jones-Quartey, Chris Prosinski, Demontre Hurst, Omar Bolden.
Much like the selection of Whitehair forced Slauson out of a job, the selection of rookie safeties Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson allowed the Bears to part ways with Antrel Rolle after one season. Now, a very deep crop of safeties will have to battle for spots on the 53-man roster. Bush potentially could start opposite Adrian Amos — last year’s rookie starter — and Houston-Carson could be a force on special teams.
Sherrick McManis, Bryce Callahan, Jacoby Glenn.
The Bears were woefully thin at cornerback behind starters Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller and addressed their depth with the selection of Deiondre’ Hall in the draft. McManis is mostly a special teamer and Callahan is an adequate backup who started three games last year for the Bears. Glenn is mostly just another body for depth. All three will be pressed for positions on the team.
Ka’Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Bears got a potential steal of the draft with the selection of running back Jordan Howard in the fifth round, who has the skills to be a workhorse starting running back — without breakaway speed — in the NFL and would have gone much higher in the draft if not for concerns about his durability. Howard immediately is penciled in as the No. 2 running back and preferred short-yardage runner. And even though Jeremy Langford is the presumed starter, he’s going to be pushed hard by Howard. Carey likely will be relegated to third-down back as we was last year behind Langford and Matt Forte, a roll he played nicely. That leaves Rodgers likely out in the cold.
Joshua Bellamy, Marquess Wilson, Cameron Meredith, Marc Mariani.
It’s difficult to make heads or tails of the selection of wide receiver Daniel Braverman in draft other than to say it was good value in the seventh round. Braverman, although small in stature, was second in the NCAA in receptions last year. There’s no guarantee he lands a roster spot, but he will try to push the receivers ahead of him and create competition.
- Chicago Bears 2017 Schedule and Previews
- Bears free agent moves creating competition at positions of need
- Replacing Alshon Jeffery could be near-impossible task
- Bears to sign wide receiver Markus Wheaton
- Bears sign tight end Dion Sims
- Bears sign veteran safety Quintin Demps
- Where do Bears go from here at wide receiver?
- Ryan Pace and John Fox season-ending joint press conference
- Bears-Packers record headed for all-time tie on Sunday
- Vic Fangio, Bears can’t be headed toward a divorce