Chicago Bears Rookie Ben Braunecker is Smarter than You

Getty Images
Getty Images /

Most college kids get summer jobs moving furniture, mowing lawns, or working in retail. But Chicago Bears rookie Ben Braunecker isn’t most college kids. Braunecker spent the last two summers working at the biochemistry lab at Harvard’s Medical School. He has two passions in life: football and infectious disease. Braunecker already has his back-up plan in place if his football career doesn’t pan out- he’s going to go to medical school to study disease.

More from Bear Goggles On

It’s not a surprise that a Harvard graduate can use his brain to fallback on, but the Molecular and Cellular Biology major has taken that to another level. Braunecker is smart, but being he has a legitimate career in waiting doesn’t mean he’s any less motivated to make the Bears roster. He’s very motivated.

Braunecker was pegged by most draft experts to go in the fourth or fifth round of the NFL draft. He sat there all weekend waiting for his name to get called, and when it didn’t, it really got under his skin.

Braunecker talked about his frustrations at Bears minicamp (according to Larry Mayer):

"Projections had me anywhere from [Rounds] 4-to-6 and I sat there on draft day for about seven hours on my couch with an ESPN camera in my face watching every pick go by, and that definitely puts a chip on my shoulder. I want to make this team. I’m driven to make this team and I’m really thankful the Bears gave me an opportunity."

Braunecker is more than just an undrafted free agent long shot with a high IQ. Some draft experts had him ranked as high as sixth among tight end prospects, but ten tight ends were called at the 2016 NFL Draft, and none of them were Braunecker.

But that didn’t stop Bears GM Ryan Pace who quickly picked up the phone at the conclusion of the draft and invited Braunecker to camp. With only one legitimate tight end on the roster in Zach Miller (and all his previous injuries in tow), the Bears give Braunecker not only a great chance to make the team, but a chance to contribute as well.

Braunecker talked about that fit (also according to Mayer):

"I think a nice, strong, reliable ‘Y’ tight end is what the Bears are looking for right now, so I’m just very thankful to be given the opportunity as an undrafted free agent to come into a system and to work with coach Frank Smith, who’s great in my first impression at giving me the tools and the opportunity to be able to step in and hopefully make the roster."

He knows he’s a good fit for this roster, and he knows he has an opportunity. The Bears will give him every chance to make this roster, and if he shows some level of promise during the preseason, you can expect the Bears, at a minimum, to keep him on the practice squad.

Nothing will be easy for Braunecker, but he is definitely up for the challenge. He’s just the type of player that Pace and John Fox want on the roster. He’s hard-working and has that never-give-up attitude that comes in handy in a league as competitive as the NFL. If he doesn’t make the roster, it won’t be from a lack of effort, just that the transition to the NFL level proved to be too much, but don’t count Braunecker out. The skills that he showed at the combine were just as impressive as Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, or any of the other tight ends that were selected during the draft.

Braunecker is definitely a rookie for Bears’ fans to keep an eye on during the preseason this year, and there is a very good chance you will see him on the active roster at some point during the 2016 season, but if for whatever reason Braunecker doesn’t spend his Sundays solving NFL defenses, he’ll spend it solving smallpox instead.

Bill Zimmerman is an editor and featured writer for FanSided‘s BearGogglesOn. Like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter for more news and interaction.