Putting Chicago Bears LB Jack Sanborn’s rookie season into context

Chicago Bears - Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Every year fans gush over the big-name UDFA who they knew from their favorite draft analyst. Still, while the UDFA will be popular on draft weekend, and in the preseason, in most cases, you see Tanner Gentry as the outcome. However, the Chicago Bears may have the rare find of a future starter from a UDFA in Jack Sanborn.

The odds were against Sanborn, but he won a roster spot, competed and climbed the depth chart, and eventually started six games. His injury is unfortunate, but it also gives us a chance to view how his rookie season looks in context to other UDFAs. Since 2000, 19 UDFAs recorded 50 tackles or more. Sanborn recorded 62.

Query Results Table
1Jerrell Freeman8145201226IND2.0905514572
2Paul Worrilow5127201323ATL2.0794812743
3Vontaze Burfict8127201222CIN1.0735412773
4Craig Robertson493201224CLE1.062319343
5Joplo Bartu585201323ATL3.547388588
6Krys Barnes580202022GNB1.049318051
7James Burgess475201723CLE4.0492675127
8Armegis Spearman573200022CIN1.04924735
9Christian Jones370201423CHI2.042287033
10Edwin Jackson466201625IND2.047196612
11Jashon Sykes564200324DEN0.05014640
12Jack Sanborn64202222CHI2.050146453
13Nicholas Morrow360201722OAK0.040206052
14Rashad Jeanty460200623CIN0.039216022
15Calvin Munson360201723NYG2.036246052
16Uani Unga259201528NYG0.0421759
17Troy Reeder458201925LAR0.036225800
18Wesley Woodyard255200822DEN0.04785550
19Antonio Pierce553200123WAS1.0449532

When you look up and down the list there are more notable names than you would think. There are also plenty of names with connections to the Chicago Bears.

Jerrell Freeman finished his career in Chicago, while Christian Jones started his career there. Of course, Nicholas Morrow is currently here, and he knows how hard it was for Jack Sanborn to pull this off.

This is a good realistic look at the potential outcome of a career for Sanborn, and maybe a better name to compare him to than Brian Urlacher.

Still, Freeman, Worrillow, Burfict, and Robertson all became legitimate NFL starters for a long stretch of their career. Antonio Pierce, Wesley Woodyard, Troy Reeder, Morrow, Jones, James Burgess, and Khrys Barnes have all churned out long careers as NFL starters as well.

The other big takeaway from this list is that almost every name on this list saw a chance to start the following season. Injuries and other circumstances may hurt the longevity of some of these players’ careers, but all of them were given a starting chance the following season.

The reality is that most teams view a player who climbed the depth chart, held their own, and now offers a cheap salary to build around them as too good of a deal to not believe the hype. We should expect the Chicago Bears to have Sanborn as a starter next season.

Next. 10 wrost Ryan Pace draft picks. dark

Beyond that, 11 of the 19 become multiple-year starters, which means there is a good chance that the Chicago Bears have a long-term piece as well. The names like Robertson and Worrillow do not blow minds, but they were legitimate starters for a long time and would be a find outcome for Jack Sanborn.