Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times thinks defensive lineman Bilal Nichols is the most likely candidate to replace nose tackle Eddie Goldman in the lineup.
“Nichols, 23, is getting the first shot at replacing the inimitable Eddie Goldman at nose tackle for the Bears, who held their first practice in pads Monday at Halas Hall. Goldman, a two-time Pro Bowl alternate and five-year unsung hero in the defense, opted out of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
“His absence leaves a significant hole, but one the Bears can fill and survive better than when they lost defensive end Akiem Hicks last year. Nichols, who played tackle at Delaware, is arguably the most intriguing prospect for the vacancy because he fits the Goldman mold as a strong run-stopper, and he obviously learns quickly.”
“The Bears have other candidates to fill Goldman’s nose tackle role; defensive line coach Jay Rodgers mentioned Abdullah Anderson, John Jenkins and Brent Urban as additional options. But given his quick acclimation to the NFL as a rookie, Nichols seems like the best place to start.”
I’m not too sure of that. Or at least I’m not too sure that’s true in every situation.
Goldman is a mountain of a man at 318 pounds. He’s a load to move and can hold up well to double teams. Nichols at 299 pounds is almost 20 pounds lighter than Goldman and almost 30 pounds lighter than Jenkins at 327 pounds. Nichols is really built more like the 2 gap defensive end that he mostly has been in the Bears base 3-4 defense.
Though he was rarely active because he doesn’t play special teams, the Bears almost certainly carried Jenkins on the roster in 2018 specifically to back up Goldman. The guess here is that was the plan this year before Goldman opted out.
It’s highly unlikely but not impossible that the Bears would change their scheme to adapt to Nichols size and ability. He could, for instance, play a 1 gap nose tackle. And the Bears will, as usual, see plenty of time in their nickle defense where Nichols will surely be a good fit in the interior of a 4 man line.
But when they are in base defense in their current in scheme, I think Jenkins gets the nod.