Three Unaddressed Holes Ryan Pace Left on Roster

Gene Chamberlain

The hole left wide open by Ryan Pace might not be gaping and obvious.

It's there nonetheless, and was large enough it was noted even by NFL.com and former Dallas Cowboys personnel personnel vice-president Gil Brandt.

There are actually others nearly as big on this roster.

With the Bears the hole is their depth. This wasn't the case last year, when they had one of their deeper teams across the board but failed to produce.

This season they actually have depth concerns at three positions but two in particular are worse than the others.

1. Backup Running Back

Brandt nailed it with an article saying, "Like the Eagles, the Bears will be taking a huge risk if a veteran isn't added to the RB depth chart behind lead ball carrier David Montgomery."

Brandt went on to note what many analysts seem fail to see and it's how Tarik Cohen had 64 carries last season and lacks the size to be a back on every down.

"The only other options on the roster currently include Ryan Nall, who recorded 8 yards on two carries after being promoted from the practice squad, and undrafted rookies Artavis Pierce and Napoleon Maxwell," Brandt said.

He missed on the player who might be their best all-around backup running back. That's Cordarrelle Patterson.

If the Bears put Patterson in the I-formation and let him run outside zone plays like Derrick Henry runs in Tennessee, they might see some of the same type of results. They don't use a running back this way, however, and definitely don't use a receiver-turned-running back that way.

2. Backup Inside Linebacker

They lost two backup inside linebackers, not just one. They've replaced the two with ... a couple undrafted free agents.

There were three other inside backups at season's end and one with some experience, but no one the caliber of lost backups Nick Kwiatkoski or Kevin Pierre-Louis.

Devante Bond started six games for the Bucs in 2017-18. That was in a 4-3 defense and he's never made a sack. He should be inside in this defense and can handle the change. And at 6-foot-1, 236 pounds, Bond has the size to be a sufficient inside backup.

Experience and size are sadly lacking in the rest of the candidates.

Josh Woods has size now, but was actually a college defensive back and put on 30 pounds to reach 236. He doesn't have the playing experience inside at all with 148 snaps last year all on special teams and no game action in 2018.

Joel Iyieguniwe, is 6-1 and only 226 pounds. The 2018 fourth-round draft pick has played only 26 defensive snaps with no starts. The two undrafted rookies are Keandre Jones and Rashad Smith. They're 225 pounds or less.

Another possibility would be playing Barkevious Mingo as a backup inside because he played outside in a 4-3 at Seattle, but has not been an inside 3-4 linebacker.

Regardless, all of these alternatives pale in comparison to when they had Kwiatkowski and even Pierre-Louis in terms of experience.

And it's not like depth rarely is needed at inside linebacker. Danny Trevathan has missed 18 games in four seasons and Roquan Smith four games last year.

3. Backup Outside Linebacker

They spent a fourth-round pick next year for Trevis Gipson this year but he hasn't played an NFL down. The other backups with NFL experience are limited. The most experienced is Mingo, who hasn't been an acceptable edge rusher despite playing the position most of his career. He has only 10 sacks and came into the league in 2013. They also have Isaiah Irving and James Vaughters. Irving has played 285 defensive snaps and has only one career sack. Vaughters has bounced from the Packers to New England, to the CFL, to the Chargers and then the Bears, and hasn't been much more than a practice squad NFL player. They have one other raw option in Khalil Mack's brother, undrafted rookie free agent Ledarius. He is 241 pounds and not ideal height for an edge at 6-1. There are plenty of bodies at the backup spots, just none with the extensive experience Aaron Lynch had the last two years.

Twiter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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