John Franklin III Will Have Uphill Battle Making 53-Man Roster
This past weekend, the Chicago Bears held their rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. By camp’s end, the organization saw enough to offer a rookie contract to one of their participants. John Franklin III, a star from the Netflix series Last Chance U, is the latest addition to the Bears’ roster. Franklin went to twitter on Sunday to announce the news:
Originally a quarterback while in college, Franklin first attended Florida State University as a redshirt freshman in 2013, and was on the Seminoles’ roster for their 2014 BCS National Championship season. Franklin then transferred to East Mississippi Community College in 2015 after being outplayed in a quarterback battle at FSU. At EMCC, Franklin served as a second-string QB, but had a breakout game where he accounted for six touchdowns. This led to Franklin signing with Auburn University in 2016. After graduating from Auburn, Franklin used his final year of eligibility at Florida Atlantic University, where he converted from quarterback to wide receiver.
Franklin thought he had a deal squared away with the Seattle Seahawks after the 2018 NFL Draft, but that obviously fell through.
Now officially a member of the Bears, Franklin must now not only adjust to a new position, but to the opposite side of the ball. Chicago will list Franklin as a defensive back/kick returner. This transition for Franklin will make it extremely difficult for him to make the Bears’ 53-man roster for the 2018 season.
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Currently, Chicago has 17 defensive backs on their roster. Of course, Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, Adrian Amos, and Eddie Jackson all have their spots in the defensive backfield cemented. Marcus Cooper, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Bryce Callahan are the prime candidates to be backups at the cornerback position, while Deiondre Hall, Deon Bush, and DeAndre Houston-Carson will be vying to backup safeties Amos and Jackson. Most of these players will also play a big role on special teams, as will special teams standouts Sherrick McManis and Josh Bellamy.
Even some of the other newcomers just might give Franklin a run for his money in the secondary. One in particular is undrafted rookie free agent Kevin Toliver out of LSU. Just like Franklin, Toliver has turned heads among the Bears coaching staff, and is a dark horse for making the 53-man roster.
If anything, Franklin’s best chance of seeing the field is in the kick return game. Once a member of FSU’s ACC champion 4×100 relay team, Franklin could use that speed to help Chicago’s field-position battles. Even then, he’ll have to outperform second-year veteran Tarik Cohen. In 2017, Cohen returned 26 kickoffs for the Bears, as well as 29 punt returns (one for a touchdown).
Making the transition from college to the profession ranks for any player at any position can be difficult. Entering the NFL playing a position that’s foreign to you is an even tougher mountain to climb. Seeing that Franklin is given the chance to make such a change on the professional level says a lot about his athletic ability. Whether or not he can beat out numerous players on the roster this summer is another question. We’ll just have to wait and see if the Bears found a diamond in the rough or not.