Sleeper Running Backs the Bears Could Target as Undrafted Free Agents


Aug 30, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson (53) tackles Northern Arizona Lumberjacksrunning back Zach Bauman (34) during the first quarter at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been made in recent weeks about the Bears upgrading their backup running back spot.  Whether you call it the Curse of 370 or the running back cliff, some keen observers are concerned about Matt Forte and his recent workload in the outlook for the 28-year old featured Chicago Bears running back.

The Bears jettisoned the over-priced and underperforming Michael Bush and only have Forte and Michael Ford on the roster.  But with so many more pressing needs on defense and the plummeting value of running backs, there will be some draft bargains to be had.  While it’s entirely possible Phil Emery could surprise some people and pick a running back with a second or third round pick if the right guy is sitting there. But in case Emery sticks to the plan and drafts defense, there are eight running backs that listed among their top 49 no name prospects.  Check out some possible running backs that could slip out of the draft and onto the street as undrafted free agents.

Zach Bauman, RB, Northern Arizona
If it’s possible to have a running back this size play in the NFL, Bauman (5-foot-7 1/4, 194 pounds) will do it. He was a four-year-starter who made the all-conference team all four years. At his pro day, he ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds. He’s likely to be a free agent.

Ryan Eppes, RB, South Florida
Eppes (6-foot-1 5/8, 232 pounds) is worth a look as a free agent based on his size, speed and strength. He posted a hand-timed 4.62-second 40 and had 26 strength lifts at his pro day.

Josh Harris, RB, Wake Forest
Harris (5-foot-9 7/8, 206 pounds) played very well against Army in September, rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a good athlete who can catch and ran a hand-timed 4.46-second 40 and 35 1/2-inch vertical jump at his pro day.

Stephen Houston, RB, Indiana
Houston (5-foot-10 3/4, 225 pounds) has a good combination of size and speed. He ran a hand-timed 4.52 in the 40 at Indiana’s pro day and looked really smooth and athletic in his drills. He also caught the ball really well.

Ray Neal, RB, Tennessee
Neal (5-foot-11 1/8, 220 pounds) is a big, strong running back with speed and good pass-catching ability. He ran a hand-timed 4.57-second 40-yard dash and had a 38-inch vertical jump.

Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Reaves (5-foot-6 7/8 209 pounds) is a small back with a lot of explosion, and he had good production in college. He posted a hand-timed 40 of 4.54 seconds at his pro day and will probably be a free agent.

Kedrick Rhodes, RB, West Alabama
Rhodes (5-foot-10 7/8, 203 pounds) is a special athlete. He posted a hand-timed 4.60-second 40, 39-inch vertical jump, 6.70-second three-cone drill and 22 reps in the bench press. He’s worth a try as a free agent.

Zurlon Tipton, RB, Central Michigan
Tipton (5-foot-11 3/4, 223 pounds) was very productive at Central Michigan. His 40 was hand-timed at 4.70, but he has outstanding quickness, which is the most important trait in a running back. He’s likely to be a free agent but could move up into the seventh round.

Karl Williams, RB, Utah
Williams (5-foot-11 3/4, 244 pounds) played fullback in 2011-12 before moving to running back last season. He’s a big, athletic player who can catch, and he ran the 40-yard dash in a hand-timed 4.50 seconds.

What do you think?  Any of these guys make sense for the Bears?