The Chicago Bears will kick off their rookie minicamp Friday, May 6, and for a three-day window, Bears’ draft picks, rookies signed after the draft, and a bundle of players trying out for a contract will compete in drills that often set the tone for the rest of the offseason.
This year’s rookie minicamp will be… different. The fanfare isn’t nearly as high as in 2021 when quarterback Justin Fields donned a Bears helmet for the first time. Instead, the top two rookies from the 2022 NFL Draft are a cornerback — Kyler Gordon — and safety — Jaquan Brisker. Most of the weekend’s attention will likely be paid to Chicago’s third-rounder, wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.
Jones is a storyline worth monitoring over the next few days. His every move will be critiqued because of his standing as a controversial pick due to a perceived reach by General Manager Ryan Poles at No. 71 overall. He has a chance to kickstart positive momentum with the juice he’s sure to display in a t-shirt and shorts.
But the bigger picture lies with the offensive line. The Bears drafted four linemen on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, and there’s a chance at least one of them will emerge victorious for the starting right guard job this summer. Poles didn’t rule out the possibility.
“I won’t put limitations on where they’re going to fit,” Poles said, via The Athletic. “Maybe (it’s) a process where you start as depth and work your way into a starter. It may work that way. There’s going to be some surprises. We see that across the league all the time where guys shoot to the top quickly and earn that trust and they make plays and they’re rolling. after the picks were made.”
There could be an opportunity for a surprise at offensive tackle, too. Last year’s pair of draft picks — Teven Jenkins (right tackle) and Larry Borom (left tackle) — were selected by the old regime. And while Jenkins’ scouting report was almost universally accepted as a top-50 talent, Borom was Ryan Pace’s day-three pick.
Poles talked about wanting his offensive linemen to be more athletic in 2022, a description that doesn’t fit Borom’s body type or play style. Perhaps it’s Borom who kicks inside to guard and one of this year’s rookies emerges as… the left tackle. It’s OK if the thought of that makes you nervous. It should. But it’s also what makes this year’s rookies an exciting bunch.
“Obviously, you hope for the best, but there might be a process. It takes time,” Poles said.
And don’t forget about the players who are fighting for a contract over the next three days. The Bears have several open roster spots, and if an unsigned prospect stands out, they’re going to get a contract. The NFL’s list of tryout players who’ve gone on to have successful careers is a long one. Remember Taylor Gabriel, the former speedy wide receiver in Chicago? His career began with a tryout and he emerged as a quality pass-catcher in the league.
The biggest takeaway from rookie minicamp won’t be anything the media reports. Instead, it will be the evaluation that takes place inside Halas Hall. Poles and his staff will reassess the 2022 rookie class after their first exposure and decide whether veteran help is needed. There are plenty of unsigned vets waiting for a call, and Poles said this week that the team isn’t done adding talent. The flurry of transactions will be fast and furious once the minicamp concludes.
Buckle up. It’s going to get fun.