The Chicago Bears currently hold 8 undrafted free agents on their roster. Which ones should you keep tabs on during the offseason?
What do James Harrison, Arain Foster, and Kurt Warner all have in common? They all went undrafted, but went on to have incredible NFL careers. Even the Chicago Bears benefit from the pool of undrafted free agents. Cameron Meredith exploded onto the scene last season and lead the Bears in receiving despite being undrafted out of Illinois State. Cre’von LeBlanc entered the NFL as a UFA, but made a splash at cornerback in Chicago by intercepting two passes, and breaking up another 10 passes. Even Jerrell Freeman had humble beginnings as a free agent before making a name for himself with the Colts and eventually the Bears.
Needless to say, undrafted players can make a big difference for the Bears. Here’s a look at the top three undrafted players who can make an impact on the Bears.
1. Tanner Gentry, WR, Wyoming
Tanner Gentry can do a little bit of everything for the Chicago Bears. He played both outside and slot receiver at Wyoming. By playing both positions, Gentry has gained reasonable experience with every route. He torched defenses last season with 72 catches for 1326 yards and 14 scores. He played his best in big games. In the Cowboy’s bowl game this season, Gentry put up 113 yards on seven grabs and found the end zone twice.
Aside from being a versatile player, Gentry is adept at the scramble drill. He knows how to slip by defensive backs amongst the chaos and create huge plays as a result. Should Trubisky take over as the starter this season, Gentry’s ability to run the scramble drill paired with Trubisky’s ability to extend plays could mean disaster for defenses.
With so many question marks at receiver, Gentry has a solid chance at not only making the roster, but even getting some significant playing time this season.
2. Rashaad Coward, NT, Old Dominion
Mitch Unrein figures to be in the starting lineup for the Bears if the season started today. That’s not a good thing. In fact, the Bears don’t have much to brag about on the defensive line outside of Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks. Even if Goldman can stay healthy this season, the Bears need to establish depth along the trenches. That’s where the 6’6, 310 pound Coward could make a difference.
More from Chicago Bears News
- Franchise tag and transition tag windows open for Chicago Bears and NFL
- How the Chicago Bears can control the running back market in 2023
- The Chicago Bears can own the city of Chicago moving forward
- Chicago Bears NFL Combine Preview: Quarterback
- 7 best free agent tackle options for Chicago Bears
His size allows him absorb double teams which is vital for a nose tackle in a 3-4. Additionally, he maintains great mobility and quickness for his size. What impressed me most from his tape was his pursuit on plays behind the line of scrimmage. He defeated his block and tracked down the running back on a stretch play multiple times.
However, Coward doesn’t offer much in regards to a pass rush. He never logged more than 2 sacks in a single season. However, as long as Coward can be a gap defender, he will at least offer the Bears a reliable substitute on the defensive line.
3. Andy Phillips, K, Utah
Kickers don’t generally draw much excitement, but the Bears definitely need an upgrade at the position. Pace cut Gould before the start of last season, and the special teams drop off was clear. Barth wasn’t atrocious, but Chicago got what they paid for.
Enter Utah’s all-time leading scorer, Andy Philips. He connected on 84/100 field goals throughout his time in college. He hit all four of his attempts from beyond 50 yards with a 53-yard career long. Barth went 1/3 from 50+ this season. His consistency earned him the nickname “Automatic Andy” from his teammates.
The Chicago Bears may have bigger worries than kicker, but an upgrade at any position would be a win for the organization. “Automatic Andy” could be the next “Good as Gould” in the Windy City.