Being limited to five draft picks isn’t something any general manager – or fan – wants for their team. And while there are ways to combat that reality (trading down and moving players off the roster in exchange for picks are two ways) by showing a hint of creativity, the Chicago Bears chose a different tactic.
The Bears have reportedly signed 21 undrafted free agents who will show up at this weekend’s upcoming rookie mini-camp. Those new players will join the team’s five draft picks, along with a select number of players on tryout deals. There is strength in numbers, to be sure. But the Bears appear to have landed quality in addition to quantity.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar highlights a draft-weekend move worthy of an A+ grade for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. For the Bears, it was their aggressively successful move through the first wave of priority undrafted free agents. That’s high praise, but the players the Bears prioritized early in this process are worthy of such kind words.
Utah State tight end Dax Raymond was deemed to be a prospect who could play his way onto the roster. Raymond earned an invite to the Senior Bowl and was WalterFootball.com’s No. 10 tight end prospect heading into the draft. He was projected to go anywhere between the third and fifth rounds, but tumbled onto the undrafted free agent market. And with the Bears only tight end options being Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, and Ben Braunecker, one could make a case that Raymond could not have fallen into a better situation.
The big fish here could be Missouri wide receiver Emanual Hall. There might not be a tougher position group to crack than wide receiver, where the Bears are loaded with players who should make for a fierce competition. But Hall has a unique prospect pedigree. He was on the Biletnikoff Award (given to college football’s best receiver) preseason watch list and earned preseason All-SEC third-team honors in 2018. And despite being limited to just four games in 2018, Hall tested well at the combine and posted an eye-opening 4.39 time in the 40-yard dash. Hall scored touchdowns on 13 of the 56 catches he had during his junior and senior seasons, all while averaging nearly 24 yards per reception.
That type of production probably should have moved the needle for a team looking for a big-play spark from a receiver in the draft, but Hall’s stock unexpectedly dropped all the way out of the draft.
Attitude. Was told he would drop. I didn’t think it would be out of the draft. He’s got 2nd round talent/traits IMO https://t.co/5cNeE0LcVg
— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) April 29, 2019
Prior to the draft, sources told WalterFootball.com that Hall had a “first-round skill set” … but also shared questions regarding Hall’s makeup, toughness, and motivation dating back to August 2018. I’m not going to act like I know the ins-and-outs of a particular prospect’s mindset, but I imagine this is where good coaching at the professional level can make an impact.
Here’s a look at the group as a whole:
- Alex Bars, offensive line, Notre Dame (Tom Pelissero, NFL Network)
- Ian Bunting, tight end, Cal (Aaron Wilson)
- Mathieu Betts, defensive lineman, Laval University (John Kyrk, Toronto Sun)
- Blake Blackmar, offensive lineman, Baylor (Mark Skol Jr., WNDU)
- John Baron II, kicker, San Diego State (we discussed him Saturday)
- Dylan Carroll, defensive end, Grand Valley State (Chris Shanafelt)
- Emmit Carpenter, kicker, Minnesota (Andy Greder, Pioneer Press)
- Clifton Duck, cornerback, Appalachian State (Phil Orban, WSOC-TV)
- Emanuel Hall, wide receiver, Missouri (self-reported by Hall himself!)
- Chuck Harris, edge rusher, Buffalo (UB Recruiting)
- Jonathan Harris, defensive line, Lindenwood (Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune)
- Joe Lowery, offensive lineman, Ohio (OU Football)
- Lawrence Marshall, defensive line, Michigan (Michigan Football)
- Sam Mustipher, offensive lineman, Notre Dame (Chris Emma, 670 The Score)
- Jordan Powell, safety, Widener University (Draft Diamonds)
- Adarius Pickett, cornerback/safety, UCLA (self-reported by Adarius Pickett!)
- Dax Raymond, tight end, Utah State (Utah State Football)
- Ellis Richardson, tight end, Georgia Southern (Eric Edholm)
- Joshua Simmons, cornerback/safety, Limestone College (Christian Shanafelt)
- Marquez Tucker, offensive lineman, Southern Utah (Brian McLaughlin, HERO Sports)
- Joe Walker, wide receiver, Delaware (Delaware Football)
The Bears won’t officially announce the group until the end of the week. But if one or two of these lottery tickets cashes out, the Bears (and their draft class) will be that much better.