The Bear Goggles On Countdown to Kickoff series is now underway for the second season in a row. With 69 days to go until the Bears season kicks off, we will highlight the Bears player that is wearing number 68, which is a rare case of two undrafted free agents, Dieugot Joseph and Rashaad Coward. Will either make the team and wear the number in the NFL next season?
2016 was a breakout year for Coward, the senior from Old Dominion. He put up 7.5 of his career 12.5 tackles for loss, and put up a sack and a half. Joseph was an All-Conference USA performer in his senior season at left tackle. Joseph did enough to get himself invited to the combine. He showed up a bit small in terms of weight but produced well in speed and agility drills. Still, the two found themselves as undrafted free agents heading to training camp with the Bears.
Joseph had a bit more recognition, and may find himself a path to the team. Tackle is not currently a strong point in Chicago. The Bears are looking at Charles Leno and Bobby Massie as their starters, and their depth features Tom Compton, Bradley Sowell, and William Poehls. None of these players have playing experience, playbook recognition or any sustainable features to give them an early edge over Joseph. It will come down to the most talented players, and at that point whether or not he can make the team is on him.
Coward is going to have an opportunity as well though. However, he is going to have to prove he can play nose tackle in the NFL to get that. Coward was a draft commodity because he could likely play anywhere on the interior in the NFL. When looking at the Bears, Jaye Howard, Jon Bullard, Mitch Unrein, and Akiem Hicks are better fits at defensive end in the 3-4. The main competition behind Eddie Goldman at nose tackle would be C.J. Wilson and John Jenkins. He is the underdog, but not in a major way as he enters camp.
Future with the Bears
Both will compete for jobs in camp, but both would be fine candidates for the practice squad. As mentioned, they both will be playing positions in which the Bears need talent, so if they can at least show the idea of progress there is a good chance both will find their way onto the practice squad. From there, they should be able to enter training camp with the Bears in 2018 with a chance to make the team again.