Chicago Bears – Rookie Tryout Invites

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The Bears rookie mini-camp is this weekend (5/16 – 5/18). All of the Bears signed draft picks, their undrafted free agent signings and undrafted rookies who were invited on a try-out basis should be in attendance. I’ve listed all of the try out invites I could find below. I have never heard of some of these players, but I added info on the players I know below. These players are all long shots, but some have a chance to stick on the practice squad. This was such a deep draft that a few of these guys would have been late round picks or at least priority UDFAs in most years.

The three positions I thought Emery didn’t address enough during the off-season were free safety, wide receiver, and tight end. He finally got around to it with his undrafted try-out invites. Of the 15 players invited, 4 are safeties and 3 are wide receivers. I’ve listed the players below in the order of their chances to stick around for training camp and potentially make the Bears roster. The best most of these players can hope for is the practice squad, but if they can excel on special teams they may have a shot to make the final 53.

WR / KR Diontae Spencer, McNeese St (5’8, 173, 4.27) – The most interesting of the free agents invited, Spencer is a legit burner. He ran a 4.27 40 at his pro day, had a 40″ vertical, a 10’3″ broad jump and did 13 bench reps at 225. Spencer is not just a track star, he put up pretty good numbers as a slot receiver last season leading the team in receptions (50), yards (835) and touchdowns (10).  His best shot to make the Bears might be as a return specialist; Spencer averaged 29.4 ypr and took 2 kicks and 1 punt for touchdowns. I had Dri Archer going to the Bears in every one of my mock drafts because the Bears need a replacement for Devin Hester and I want to see how Trestman could utilize an offensive weapon with blazing speed. Archer went earlier than I thought he would, to the Steelers in the 3rd round, but Spencer is a poor man’s Dri Archer.

FS Greg Heban, Indiana (5’11, 193) – Former college baseball player who was a football walk-on and a three-year starter at Indiana. Heban has limited athleticism, but was very productive the last three seasons (234 tackles, 9 INTs, 10 TFLs, 23 PDs). Heban has average size and speed (4.62) but good instincts and was solid in zone coverage and against the run. Slower, less athletic version of Brock Vereen but with better ball skills. I thought Heban had a shot to get drafted and was surprised to see him still available after the UDFA round.

CB Al Louis-Jean, Boston College (6’1, 187) – The Bears used one of their 30 official pre-draft visits on Louis-Jean, so there may be some serious interest here. Louis-Jean has great size for a corner and was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school, but never really did much at BC (1 INT, 1 FF, 36 tackles in just 21 total games). He missed the 2012 season due to injury, feuded with coaches, and didn’t play in 4 games last year due to a 2-game suspension and other undisclosed reasons. Louis-Jean is a bit of an unknown, but has elite size for a corner and 4.5 speed. The NFL athleticism is there and with some coaching, ALJ could eventually make an impact. He would be an ideal high-upside practice squad player.

SS Larry King, Indiana St (6’2, 215) – Two year starter who missed all of the 2013 season with an ACL injury. King was ISU’s #1 pro prospect coming into the season due to his size/speed ratio and NFL athleticism. King supposedly wasn’t quite 100% at Indiana’s pro day, but he still participated and ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and had a 10’4 broad jump. Both of those numbers would have put King in the top 5 of the safeties that participated at the combine. King, a former linebacker, is solid in run support and has good range and ball skills in coverage (7 INTs). Coming into the 2013 season he was projected as a potential late round pick and if he is fully recovered, he was a chance to stick because there is little to no depth at strong safety behind Ryan Mundy.