5 Bears primed for a breakout season in 2018
Taylor Gabriel, WR
Taylor Gabriel was one of GM Ryan Pace's key signings this offseason but he's been lost in the conversation about the biggest additions on offense. Most of the chatter surrounds Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and now Anthony Miller, but it's Gabriel who has very real breakout star potential.
He possesses all the skills needed to be Chicago's version of Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs' speedster who thrived in Matt Nagy's zebra role last season. Gabriel is nicknamed Turbo for a reason; his speed has speed.
Robinson will command opposing defenses' attention and Burton will be a headache for defensive coordinators to treat. But don't forget about Gabriel, who has a great chance to become the homerun hitter the Bears have been missing for a long time.
Aaron Lynch, OLB
Aaron Lynch is overflowing with elite potential. The problem, however, is he hasn't been able to convert that potential into production so far as a pro. His best year was his rookie season under the watchful eye of Vic Fangio, who he now reunites with in what is the most critical season of his career.
Lynch once looked like an early first-round pick after a sensational freshman season at Notre Dame. His swim move was unblockable. It's been a steady descent since then, but his one-year deal with the Bears represents something of a fresh start. Ryan Pace has had success with guys like this in the past, including cornerback Tracy Porter who joined the Bears as something of an afterthought. He quickly became the team's top corner after only one season.
With Leonard Floyd opposite him, Lynch should be in a lot of one-on-one situations. He'll win those. And if he stays healthy, he could launch into double-digit sack territory and cash in with a massive new deal at season's end.
Eddie Jackson, Safety
Eddie Jackson had a great rookie season. He has a chance to become a superstar in Year Two.
Jackson started all 16 games in 2017 and totaled 53 tackles, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He brought big plays and turnovers back to a defense that struggled in both departments for several seasons. He's on the national radar in 2018.
If Jackson stacks a productive second season on top of what he did last year, he'll be recognized as one of the top safeties in the NFL. There's a very good chance he'll do it, too. The defense has remained in-tact. The confidence and comfort he has with his secondary teammates will allow him to take more chances at field-flipping plays.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Jackson ends 2018 as an All Pro.
Trey Burton, TE
Trey Burton is going to breakout this season. Barring injury, there's no way he can't.
Burton played second fiddle to Zach Ertz in Philadelphia and was productive when given a chance to play. In Chicago, he'll have the lion's share of targets at tight end and could push for the second-most looks of any receiver on the team.
Burton isn't a traditional tight end. He's a very good athlete who will have a few highlight-reel plays sprinkled into an all-around productive season. In fact, Burton could eclipse 850 yards and eight touchdowns in his first year as the Bears' starter. If he hits those numbers, he'll become a fantasy football favorite, which usually translates into league stardom.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB
No breakout-player list would be complete without Mitchell Trubisky. If he doesn't have a huge season, the Bears are in serious trouble.
All the stars have aligned for Trubisky this offseason. He has four new targets in the passing game in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton and Anthony Miller and a new coach who will put him in an Alex Smith-like position to succeed.
Trubisky is overflowing with franchise quarterback traits. He has the arm strength, accuracy, athleticism and toughness to be a star. On top of all that, he has the work ethic and leadership qualities to win over a locker room.
Quarterback is the most volatile position in all sports. But Trubisky is checking every box as he marches toward what could be the biggest season of his football life.