A lot has changed since the NFL released the 2019 schedule. Teams have added through the draft and free agency, and learned more about their rosters with rookie minicamps. Now with all that behind us, let’s take another look at which opposing rookies could make an impact in 2019. We’ll go over the first five opponents on Wednesday, the next four on Thursday and the last four on Friday.
Week 7 vs. Saints
The home meeting vs. New Orleans is certainly a marquee matchup, and initially looked like it would be an opportunity for Mitchell Trubisky and the offense to show off how far they’ve come. In 2018, the Saints pass defense ranked in the bottom-10 in TD allowed, YPG allowed and QB rating against. But they drafted defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the fourth round to help shore things up in the secondary. Gardner-Johnson fell despite being projected as a possible second or third-rounder and had nine interceptions (including three returned for touchdowns) and 12 pass breakups in 37 games at Florida.
Week 8 vs. Chargers
First-round selection Jerry Tillery has the ability to push the pocket and get after the quarterback from the inside if healthy. He notched eight sacks as an interior lineman at Notre Dame last season. Pair this pass rush threat with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming off the edge and it could present some matchup problems for the Bears offensive line.
Week 9 at Eagles
When the schedule was initially released, this appeared to be a major matchup—and an opportunity for former Bear Jordan Howard to remind everyone in Chicago of what he can do between the tackles. But then Philadelphia drafted Penn State running back Miles Sanders in the second round. Last season, Sanders rushed 220 times for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns, so he should contribute as a rookie for the Eagles. So, will we see less of Jordan Howard in Week 9 than previously expected?
Week 10 vs. Lions
The last time the Lions had a Top-10 pick they selected tight end Eric Ebron ahead of Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier and Zack Martin. Ebron never lived up to his first-round status in Detroit and the Lions cut him in March of 2018. Ebron then signed with the Colts and went on to have his first Pro Bowl season. Now, the Lions have selected T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 overall to replace Ebron… ahead of highly-touted talents Ed Oliver, Devin Bush Jr. and Christian Wilkins.
Check back Friday as we’ll go over Weeks 11-17 for the Bears.