The Chicago Bears added help off the edge with Miami (Ohio)’s Dominique Robinson in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft, giving Chicago a potential late-round gem.
The Bears are making the transition to a 4-3 defense under head coach Matt Eberflus, and there’s plenty to be excited about with the edge rushers. Robert Quinn is coming off his best season with the Bears, Trevis Gipson was impressive in place of an injured Khalil Mack and newcomer Al-Quadin Muhammad brings knowledge and experience to the position.
Now with Robinson — who is a potential sleeper for the Bears — in the mix, there’s plenty to be excited about in terms of the immediate future at edge rusher.
Following the addition of Robinson in the draft, here’s a look at the Bears’ defensive line depth:
Robert Quinn is coming off an impressive season, where he broke the Bears’ single-season sack record with 18.5 total sacks and was a disruptive force off the edge. It doesn’t sound like Quinn is going anywhere anytime soon — despite interest from around the league — and he’ll now be the top edge rusher in Chicago with Khalil Mack traded to the Chargers.
Trevis Gipson was impressive in his second season with the Bears, where he showed plenty of promise. While he got off to a slow start as a reserve, he stepped up in for an injured Khalil Mack, where he started for the remainder of the year. He had seven sacks and five forced fumbles in nine starts. Heading into 2022, Gipson appears to be a favorite to line up opposite Quinn as a starter at defensive end.
Al-Quadin Muhammad was an expected addition to the Bears given his connection with head coach Matt Eberflus during their time in Indianapolis. Muhammad is coming off a breakout season with the Colts, where he figures to compete for the starting job with Gipson or serve as the top rotational piece off the edge.
Justin Jones is Chicago’s replacement for Larry Ogunjobi, who failed to pass his physical and was not signed by the team. Jones is coming off an impressive season where he set career highs in tackles (37), sacks (3.0) and QB hits (5). While Jones is a downgrade from Ogunjobi, he’s a more affordable option and projects to serve as a solid three-technique.
Khyiris Tonga, a seventh-round pick in 2021, is coming off an encouraging rookie season, where he saw significant time in place of an injured Eddie Goldman and held his own. Tonga showed he can be a powerful run stopper in the middle of the defensive line, and his potential moving forward is exciting. Tonga is the current top option at the 1-technique spot.
Mario Edwards signed a three-year extension with the Bears last offseason, and he’s been a key reserve along the defensive line. Edwards should have some versatility on the Bears defensive line with the ability to play as a 3-technique, where he would back up Jones, or coming off the edge. He’ll be a key rotational player for Chicago as they transition to a 4-3 defense.
Angelo Blackson was signed last offseason to serve as depth along the interior of the defensive line, but he found himself thrust into more of a starting role due to injuries to Akiem Hicks. Blackson was solid all season and saw a spike in production near the end of the season. He’s a reliable rotational player who could certainly factor into the plans for 2022.
Jeremiah Attaochu signed a two-year deal last season, but he missed most of the year after a season-ending pectoral injury. He certainly remains a candidate for a potential cap casualty. But right now, he’s a solid depth option coming off the edge.
The Bears found a potential sleeper in Dominique Robinson in the fifth round. Robinson, a converted wide receiver, is still relatively inexperienced at the defensive end position. Which should be exciting for the Bears given his upside and the potential for him learning from someone like Robert Quinn. Robinson has an incredibly high ceiling, and he’ll be looking to lock down a roster spot this summer.
Sam Kamara signed as an undrafted free agent with the Bears last offseason. While he spent most of the season on the practice squad, he did appear in eight games, where he contributed on defense and special teams. Kamara has a chance to compete for a roster spot at defensive end. If not, he’d be a likely candidate for the practice squad.
Charles Snowden also signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2021. He spent most of the season on the practice squad, but he did appear in two games later in the season. Snowden is an exciting prospect at edge rusher, where he’ll have a chance to compete for a roster spot. If not, he’ll be a candidate for the practice squad.
While Khalil Mack might be gone, his younger brother Ledarius Mack remains. Mack was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He spent most of the year on the practice squad, but he did appear in three games at edge rusher. Mack will look to compete for a roster spot with other young players like Kamara and Snowden, where he’ll also be a practice squad candidate.
LaCale London spent the majority of the 2021 season on the practice squad. He appeared in just one game last season — a Week 15 contest against the Vikings when Chicago was ravaged by COVID-19. At this point, London is nothing more than a practice squad player who doesn’t appear poised to contribute in 2022.
Auzoyah Alufohai split his 2021 season on the Bears and Packers practice squads. He signed with Chicago on Sept. 1 and was released shortly after. Then in November, he joined Green Bay’s practice squad for a couple of weeks before being released on Nov. 16. He rejoined the Bears practice squad on Dec. 16 before signing a reserve/futures contract with Chicago on Jan. 11. Alufohai is nothing more than a practice squad player who doesn’t appear likely to factor into Chicago’s plans.