Expectations for the Bears this season have been understandably low, but that's not to say there's no talent on John Fox's roster.
The Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer dropped by the CSN studio to rank the top five players suiting up this year:
5. Prince Amukamara, CB
Wiederer's take: Terrific offseason, high hopes on what he can bring to secondary.
4. Josh Sitton, OL
Wiederer's take: Proven and understands exactly what it takes to win in this league.
3. Akiem Hicks, DE
Wiederer's take: Defensive MVP a season ago, durable.
2. Leonard Floyd, OLB
Wiederer's take: Had a very strong camp, could be a breakout year if he can stay healthy.
1. Jordan Howard, RB
Wiederer's take: Had a huge rookie campaign, gotta be at the top of the list.
Watch the video above to see the Bears beat reporter's full analysis.
Maybe this is what happens when a team is coming off a 5-11 season and has won only 14 games over three years. Maybe it's just another example of the Chicago Bears being overlooked and underrated. Regardless of the 'why,' a recent poll of NFL experts has provided more fuel for the Bears in 2018.
ESPN's Field Yates asked 43 insiders and former players for their list of the top under-25-year-old starters in the NFL and not a single Chicago Bear made the cut.
No Jordan Howard. No Mitchell Trubisky. No Allen Robinson.
Not a single Bear.
The most shocking omission is Howard, who finished second in the NFL in rushing in 2016 and sixth last year despite facing defenses that focused their entire game plan on stopping him every single week. At only 23 years old, he's clearly one of the top young running backs in the NFL and warranted a spot on this list.
Instead, the Rams' Todd Gurley, Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott and Giants rookie Saquon Barkley got the nod.
Howard has more rushing yards than Gurley over the last two seasons and trails Elliott by only 179. Barkley has yet to take a snap in the NFL.
The Bears were recently named the most underrated team in the league heading into 2018 and this is just another piece of evidence justifying that claim. A winning season will change the national perception of players like Howard, who with another year of high-end production should find himself at or near the top of many of these lists next offseason.
Roquan Smith represents so much for the Chicago Bears. He's projected to be the next stud linebacker in a long history of great ones at the position in Chicago. Assuming he isn't kept sidelined because of an extended contract dispute, he'll be an instant-impact starter as early as Week One of the regular season.
Smith, 21, was drafted eighth overall because he has a very specific set of skills. Namely, he can run down the fastest of running backs, cover the quickest of tight ends and provide an underrated pass rush from many different places on the field. He'll line up next to Danny Trevathan to form one of the more talented linebacker tandems in the NFL. In fact, they could very well be the best by season's end.
Smith didn't report with Bears rookies Monday because he has yet to sign his contract. While it's true there's reason for concern whenever a player doesn't report on time, the reality for Smith is that Chicago's training camp is starting a week earlier than normal because the team is participating in this year's Hall of Fame Game.
Bears veterans report on July 19. If Smith is still a no-show, his status will go from contract dispute to official holdout.
Smith is going to be a critical variable in how well the defense plays this year regardless of how long it takes to get him under contract. He's as good a candidate as any to lead all rookies in tackles this season and he could end up the leading tackler on the Bears, too. Smith has the potential to be a five-tool player on defense and can challenge for top billing in several statistical categories in Chicago in 2018.
It's a slippery slope to describe a player as a can't-miss, but Smith is pretty darn close. There will be a lot of No. 58 jerseys in the stands of Soldier Field this year and if he makes good on his lofty expectations, Smith will quickly become a cornerstone piece in this new era of Bears football.