The Chicago Bears' 2020 rookie class doesn't include a first-round pick, but it does have two second-rounders in its mix, and they're both expected to play big-time roles this season.
Tight end Cole Kmet will begin his career behind Jimmy Graham as the club's primary option at the position. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, on the other hand, has a chance to start in Week 1.
It looks like they're off to a hot start, along with the rest of their 2020 classmates.
"I would say this about the rookie class in general, I mean it's the football IQ that jumps out with these guys, big time, all of them," Ryan Pace said on the Hoge and Jahns podcast. "I think of the things we found, I was just talking with some of the coaches yesterday with the zoom meetings throughout the offseason, is we've had a lot of quality time with them. I feel like even in this first week's walkthroughs, the rookies are really sharp."
That's great news for a Bears team that desperately needs a draft class to hit after failed early-round picks like Kevin White, Leonard Floyd and Adam Shaheen.
"As we go ou there and we go through these walkthroughs as an offense and as a defense, they're on top of them," Pace said. "We go through the cadences, there's very few mistakes. Everybody's lined up correctly. I think there's really something to that."
Football IQ is something Pace has continued to preach as a trait that he values highly in his scouting process. It hasn't always proved itself on the field, but every new draft class provides hope that this is the year that it will.
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and its impact on the roster could thrust rookies into a larger role than was expected on draft weekend. If the Bears' group of first-year players is already proving they belong, Chicago will be well-suited to handle the challenges likely to come their way in the 2020 season.