Bears UFA Targets:
This is a very deep draft. There are probably 25-30 more players not drafted in my mock that have legit NFL potential. Since this is a Bears site, I am going to list some undrafted players I think the Bears should target as undrafted free agents. I’m sorry, I can’t stop! I wish there were more rounds to mock.
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QB Aaron Murray, Georgia (6’1, 201) – He’s a little shorter than ideal and doesn’t have a big arm. What he does have is great accuracy on short-to-mid range passes, good mobility, and all the intangibles you look for in a QB. I see him developing into a solid back-up who can win a few games in relief.
RB Tim Flanders, Sam Houston St (5’9, 212) – His frame and running style remind me so much of ex-Bear Thomas Jones. Flanders has great vision and is a tough inside runner and reliable receiver out of the backfield. For his career Flanders put up 5,406 rushing yards and scored 63 touchdowns.
RB David Fluellen, Toledo (5’11, 226) – Stocky back with good vision and good power between the tackles. The Bears could be looking for a short yardage replacement if they release Michael Bush and Fluellen could fill that role. He’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield and a reliable pass blocker as well. Fluellen helped his stock at the Senior Bowl rushing for 44 yards on 8 carries and breaking a few tackles.
WR Cody Hoffman, BYU (6’4, 218) – Great size, uses his body well, and has excellent hands. Hoffman isn’t a burner by any stretch of the imagination, but knows how to get open and can catch the ball. He’s also very good in the red zone (26 TDs last 3 seasons).
TE Jake Murphy, Utah (6’4, 252) – Well rounded tight end who can block, run good routes, has soft hands, and is tough to bring down after he catches the ball. He’s also baseball Hall of Famer Dale Murphy’s son!
TE Jordan Najvar, Baylor (6’6, 260) – Has ideal size for a tight end and was a solid blocker in college. Unfortunately blocking was all he did at Baylor; Najvar had only 10 catches for 85 yards as a senior. Najvar was the surprise of the Shrine game practices, displaying good hands, fluid mobility and a knack for finding soft spots in cover-2 and cover-3 zones. Najvar is a potential 3-down TE and would give the Bears a #2 TE with upside.
DT Shamar Stephen, Connecticut (6’5, 308) – Good size and very strong, Stephen was a solid run-stuffer in college where he was coached by new Bears D-line coach Paul Pasqualoni. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stephen ends up in the Bears camp either as a UFA or a 6th round pick.
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LB Denicos Allen, Michigan St (5’11, 220) – If Allen were a few inches taller and 10 pounds heavier he’d be a day 2 pick. He’s a heck of a football player. Allen is very fast (4.5ish), has great instincts, and is a sure tackler despite his small frame. He’s also a violent blitzer and good in coverage. Allen is never going to get any taller, but he’s about the same size as Bronces LB Wesley Woodyard (6’0, 230) who has been an excellent weak side linebacker.
LB Khairie Fortt, California (6’2, 240) – Like Allen above and Spruill below, I’m not sure why Fortt isn’t ranked higher by national analysts. Forrt has good speed (4.6ish), good run / pass recognition, can cover TEs and RBs, and is a big hitter. Like most big hitters, he misses a few while going for the knockout and he’s also stiff in zone coverage. Those seem like minor flaws to me and I would be pretty surprised if Fortt doesn’t get drafted. He also has the versatility to play outside in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4.
LB Marquis Spruill, Syracuse (6’1, 229) – Intense player who is a violent blitzer and big-hitter all over the field. He’s small for an NFL linebacker, but he has played safety at times for the Orange so that could be an option at the next level. If Spruill stays at LB he will need to get a little stronger, but he is a max-effort player, who plays mean, and his solid instincts keep him around the ball consistently. Worst case, he’ll be a special teams standout.
CB Ricardo Allen, Purdue (5’9, 187) – Cocky, aggressive corner with good ball skills. Due to his lack of size, he struggles with big receivers but is a strong defender against the 6 foot and under crowd. Ideal skill-set for a nickel back and he has the swagger and short memory necessary for a successful corner in the league.
CB Carrington Byndom, Texas (6’0, 180) – Good size, fast, and plays hard all the time. His technique needs work, but he has the physical traits and right attitude to become a starting corner in the league. A lot of draft sites had him on their top 5 CB lists going into the 2013 season, but like the rest of the Longhorns he had a mediocre year. He still has that top 5 potential, Byndom just might need another year or two more to develop. Great practice squad stash.
FS Nickoe Whitley, Mississippi St (6’0, 205) – Ultra-aggressive safety who constantly goes for the big-hit. His violent play tends to get Whitley in trouble at times, he racked up far too many personal fouls, including one for punching an opposing player. He needs to get his emotions under control, but his fiery playing style does cause plenty of turnovers; Whitley had 15 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles during his time with the Bulldogs. He has been injury prone with a ruptured achilles in 2011 and a torn ACL in 2013, but the ACL tear happened in week 3 of the CFB season and he played through it the rest of the year! That’s pretty amazing. Whitley has his share of warts, but the Bears need some toughness and Whitley has that in spades.
SS BooBoo Gates, Bowling Green (5’11, 227) – You won’t find Gates on many prospect lists, but he is a well-rounded strong safety with enough skills to play at the next level. He’s a good hitter against the run, solid in coverage, and explosive enough to return two kicks and a punt for TDs during his college career. Gates will excel on special teams coverage off the bat, is a dangerous return man, and has the potential to develop into a starting safety down the road.