While most of the attention paid to the Chicago Bears in 2017 was on Mitch Trubisky, it was the defense that was the real story. The Vic Fangio-led group finished the season ranked as a top-10 unit and is entering 2018 with most of the key pieces in-tact.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback and current CBS Sports analyst Bryant McFadden said Chicago’s defense is one of the key reasons why they’re a sleeper team for the upcoming season during a recent appearance on the Pick-Six Podcast.

"This is a sleeper team, but I love this team," McFadden said. "The Monsters of the Midway -- they're back. Chicago. Quiet as kept, this was a top-10 defense a year ago. Under the radar. They have, in my opinion, the best young defensive unit in the league. Young, I'm talking about youth. 

“Jacksonville, they're extremely young, but they've got a few quality, older experienced pieces. When you look at this Chicago Bears defense, youth is on all three phases as far as the front, the second level and the third level.” 

One of those key young pieces is first-round pick Roquan Smith, who’s expected to become an instant impact player and potentially the defense’s leader by season’s end.

“Roquan Smith? Boy, he's a dog and I'm not just saying that because he went to Georgia,” McFadden said. “He is a DOG. He's a tone-setter -- he's the guy who throws people out of the club. He's like the bouncer and you have to have that type of personality on your defense."

The Bears defense has more than just an exciting rookie, however. They’re returning key starters like Akiem Hicks, Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson and a healthy Leonard Floyd, who will be relied on to serve as Chicago’s sack master in 2018.

"Akiem Hicks, big time baller. Eddie Goldman is like the anchor of that defense. Leonard Floyd -- he's sneaky good, and the crazy part about Leonard Floyd is he's not strong. He's lengthy, but he finds a way to create pressure.”

The only issue facing Chicago’s defense is depth, especially at outside linebacker. If Floyd struggles to stay healthy or doesn’t take that next step in his development, the roster is void of any proven option to get after the quarterback. 

Still, there’s good reason to be optimistic about what Fangio and the Bears defense is capable of this season. Assuming the offense is improved and produces more points for the defense to work with, Hicks, Floyd, Smith and the rest of the starters may end up leading the team on a possible playoff run in January.