Chicago Bears: The running back race for depth is underway

Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears have an underrated race for the last few running back depth slots.

The Chicago Bears, for the second time under Ryan Pace, did not draft a running back in his tenure. The Chicago Bears are no stranger to finding talent in the undrafted free agent pool.  They added two different styled running backs this year in Artavis (Art) Peirce and Napoleon Maxwell.

Peirce seems to be the favorite among media members with his dynamic ability to play in space. While Peirce was not the man ball carrier at Oregon State, he was indeed productive. Peirce caught 74 passes for 440 yards while rushing for 2127 yards on 366 carries. He found the endzone 17 times all in his four years with the team.

Napoleon Maxwell split reps with Anthony Jones and Shawndarrius Phillips through his college career at Flordia International University. Maxwell caught 30 passes for 233 yards while rushing for 2090 yards on 392 carries. Both Maxwell and Peirce are being brought in to compete with Ryan Nall for the Chicago Bears reserve role.

Their best route to the 53 man rosters is to showcase special teams and pass protection.  Each of the three running backs possesses different skillsets but can all be used in a similar role. Ryan Nall is a faster downhill runner that will lay the wood on a defender attempting to tackle him.

Maxwell is a downhill runner that uses vision and patience to grind out yards. Peirce is a shifty back that uses lateral agility to find running lanes before turning on the jets to outrun defenders. Art Peirce is likely the best fit as a pure spell back who would spell Tarik Cohen when a pass-catching threat is needed and spell Montgomery when they need some juice between the tackles.

Peirce is intriguing because he was the next man up at Oregon State when Ryan Nall left for the NFL. Peirce was injured in 2018 and lost the job to true freshman Jermar Jefferson who ran all over everybody but failed to help the team win more than two games.

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Art Peirce might become what Benny Cunningham was for the Rams, but with the Chicago Bears. Peirce doesn’t have to become a game-changer. But any UDFA that becomes a game-changer would be huge for any franchise.