Bears Depth Chart: Inside Linebacker

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /
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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports /

Practice Squad Battle: Jarrett Grace vs Don Cherry

Neither player has much tape to analyze since one played at a small football school (Villanova) and the other barely played due to a serious knee injury. I honestly don’t know which player would be a better fit for the Bears, so I’ll post my limited scouting report on both below and let you decide who you think is the better fit for the practice squad.

LB Jarrett Grace, Notre Dame (6’3 | 240 | 4.75) – Suffered a broken leg in 2014 and wasn’t fully recovered until late last season. In 2013 Grace had 40 tackles backing up Manti Te’o and was in line for the starting gig in 2014 before breaking his leg. The injury was grotesque enough that Grace’s football career was in jeopardy.

Grace managed to come back and play his senior year as a solid back-up with 26 tackles and 1.5 TFLs. Despite a career-threatening leg injury and not seeing the field much the last two seasons, Grace had an impressive pro day, running a 4.75 40-time, posting above-average times in the shuttle and 3-cone drills, and putting up 26 bench reps of 225 pounds which would have ranked 3rd among ILBs at the combine. Grace’s impressive measurables and ideal ILB size (6’3, 240 pounds) put him on NFL radars.

He impressed the Bears enough at their rookie mini-camp that he earned a spot on the Bears 90-man roster. The Bears are obviously very deep at inside linebacker, so it’s my guess that Grace is a camp body who will need to stand out on special teams to make the roster or even practice squad.

ILB Don Cherry, Villanova (6’1 | 236 | 4.7) – FBS All-American and team captain who put up monster numbers in 2014 (134 tackles, 21 TFLs, 10 sacks, 5 forced fumbles) before a mediocre 2015 campaign. The Bears are suddenly deep at ILB, so Cherry’s best chance at making the roster will be on special teams.

Verdict: I’m going with Cherry. It’s a crap-shoot, but Cherry was so dominant when healthy in 2014 that I’m guessing he has some potential to be a good special teams player. The Bears also gave him a significant signing bonus compatred to some of their other undrafted free agents which makes me think they are higher on his potential than they are on Grace’s who they brought in for a mini-camp tryout.