Every year, every team seems to find a training camp darling who finds his way onto an active roster. For the Bears in 2017, that player appears to be Roy Robertson-Harris.
Roy Robertson-Harris a very interesting case. A 2016 undrafted free agent from UTEP, he stood out at times in his first preseason in the NFL. Unfortunately, the Bears were forced to place him on the non-football injury list, ending his rookie campaign.
Robertson-Harris spent the offseason transitioning from outside linebacker to defensive end. Given the lack of experience and pedigree, his roster chances were not high entering camp. However, in his new position and back on the football field, Robertson-Harris has looked like he belongs.
He has gotten a lot of talk from beat reporters in training camp. While he did not do much in his first preseason game, he exploded onto the scene in week two with two sacks and three tackles. That got the roster talk started. How did Robertson-Harris follow up that act? He made sure to make a game changing play in the first half, blocking a punt that resulted in a safety.
Robertson-Harris has now made plays on multiple units. He has done it consistently and has looked like he belongs every step of the way. Is this enough to lock him onto the roster?
One would assume so. However, defensive line just so happens to be the most crowded unit. At his position Akiem Hicks, Jaye Howard, Jonathan Bullard, and Mitch Unrein all have taken snaps above him. Add in Eddie Goldman at the nose tackle spot, and he is already looking like a sixth defensive lineman. However, with these six, they only have one true nose tackle. Whether it be C.J. Wilson or John Jenkins, the two have an edge over Robertson-Harris due to need.
Most 3-4 teams would be reluctant to carry seven defensive linemen. It means fewer linebackers in a scheme designed to give linebackers space and less secondary pieces for a unit that needs the depth. However, the Bears are to the point where they have to make the numbers game work.
Robertson-Harris would never make it to the practice squad and would be on a new team within 48-hours of being released. The team cannot let the high upside bloomer go. Whether it be cutting a player such as Unrein, or shuffling at backup nose tackle with their excess defensive ends, the team has to make it work. Roy Robertson-Harris has to make the 53-man roster.