4. LB Zaire Franklin (Indianapolis Colts)
New Bears’ head coach Matt Eberflus and new defensive coordinator Alan Williams both spent the previous four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. The former led a unit that had a big year in 2020 when the team finished eighth in the NFL in fewest total yards allowed. And only the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers were better against the run that year.
In 2021, the final rankings were not as impressive due to a lack of consistency. But this was a ball-hawking club that finished with an impressive 33 takeaways – second only to the Dallas Cowboys (34).
Meanwhile, the same year that Eberflus joined the Colts and Williams rejoined the franchise in ‘18, general manager Chris Ballard made Syracuse University linebacker Zaire Franklin the 235th pick in the 2018 draft. He played in every game for the team over that span, including three playoff contests.
After making a combined four starts in his first three seasons, the former seventh-round selection finished with 29 defensive stops, one interception and two passes defensed. Franklin also totaled 11 special teams stops, as well as a fumble recovery and a blocked punt (which was returned for a TD) for those units. And he certainly knows Eberflus’ system.