The Chicago Bears are in the middle of a rebuild under new general manager Ryan Poles, which has seen the departures of key veterans and the emergence of a younger roster.
The Bears have some young players who will be key to this team's future success, including some who have already shown promise and could be in for big seasons.
Our Bears Wire staff is sharing their thoughts on the players who have the potential for a breakout season in 2022, which includes plenty of weapons for quarterback Justin Fields.
Alyssa Barbieri: WR Darnell Mooney
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While Darnell Mooney is coming off a 1,000-yard receiving season, you could say that he's just reaching his potential entering Year 3. But unlike last season, where he emerged as Chicago's top wideout, Mooney won't have the added benefit of Allen Robinson. Mooney and Justin Fields have been virtually inseparable this offseason, where it's clear their connection has the potential to be a potent one in the NFL.
Imagine what Mooney can do in an offense that allows Fields to actually throw it deep. Perhaps Mooney could have a true breakout season. Outside of Mooney, there aren't any proven commodities at wide receiver. Given that and the fact that he and Fields have developed a connection, Mooney will see plenty of balls come his way. Perhaps 2022 is the year that Mooney finally becomes a household name.
Brendan Sugrue: RB Khalil Herbert
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David Montgomery is still the Bears starter at running back, but it's fair to say second-year back Khalil Herbert is going to play a major role in the team's running game under Luke Getsy. Herbert shined in limited action last season when Montgomery went down for an injury, rushing for 344 yards and averaging 4.5 yards per carry during the four-game stretch where he was counted on to carry the load. But when Montgomery returned, Herbert's carries disappeared. From Week 9 on, he only averaged 2.5 carries a game.
Herbert has the talent to thrive in this new offense. He just needs to be given the carries to show it and Getsy will likely oblige. Coming from the Green Bay Packers, Getsy was part of an offense that consistently utilized multiple running backs. He is going to rely on the ground game to not only move the ball, but also create opportunities for Justin Fields in the passing game. Montgomery still stands to get the bulk of the carries, but Herbert stands to benefit greatly from this new offensive system and is an easy pick to break out. I wouldn't be shocked if he becomes the full-time starter as the year goes on, either.
Ryan Fedrau: TE Cole Kmet
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While many people believe Justin Fields is the franchise quarterback of the future, things won't turn around and click for him in just one offseason. The lack of weapons, learning a new offense, and a re-building offensive line doesn't scream success. Still, he is likely the favorite to breakout this season.
Instead of Fields though, I believe Cole Kmet will have a breakout year on offense. This is his last chance to prove he will be the Bears' tight end of the future. If he doesn't find success this season, Chicago will be back in the tight end market.
Why Kmet? Fields spent the offseason training with Darnell Mooney and Kmet. Last season, he went from 21 catches in his rookie year to 60 catches in Year 2. With the likelihood of him being Fields' number 2 target, behind Mooney, expect those numbers to only increase. Only time will tell if their offseason training build a relationship between the two, or if it was a waste of time.
Jarrett Bailey: WR Byron Pringle
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Now this isn't to say that Byron Pringle will set the world on fire, but adding him to the offense gives the Bears a guy who can take a four yard reception and turn it into a 40 yard play. He may have gotten lost in the shuffle in Kansas City playing alongside Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but Pringle has a great set of wheels that gives Chicago a true speed threat.
Darnell Mooney will garner the most attention from opposing defensive backs on the perimeter. Pringle is someone the Bears can use both opposite of Mooney, and also in the slot, the return game, and on gadget plays. All-purpose yards will be the stat to pay attention to when it comes to Pringle. If used right, he can become a viable No. 2 for Justin Fields and the Bears offense as a whole.