Rookies Arrive For Mini-Camp, Hiestand's Impact, Roster Shuffling, and Other Bullets

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Rookies Arrive For Mini-Camp, Hiestand’s Impact, Roster Shuffling, and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

Imagine the Bears and Packers playing 19 times a year. Welp, that’s what Cubs-Cardinals do … and it’s starting this weekend. It should be a doozy of a time over at our sister site.

Now here’s some Bears stuff.

  • You’re up, rookies:

  • David Montgomery, Riley Ridley, Duke Shelley, Kerrith Whyte Jr., Stephen Denmark, 22 undrafted rookie free agent signings, and a handful of young veteran free agents are at Halas Hall this weekend for the Bears’ rookie mini-camp. Come one, come all! Everyone has something to prove, and the best way to get started on that road is to impress someone this weekend.
  • Why, yes, you did read that correctly. The Bears signed 22 (!!) undrafted free agents. It’s the most the team has signed in the Ryan Pace era, per Adam Jahns (The Athletic). And while that seems like a lot, remember the Bears had just five draft picks. When your team’s draft picks are limited, your front office has to work that much harder to scoop up talent. Several of the prospects they signed had decent draft grades and were expected to be selected at some point, but fell out of the draft completely. Not every UDFA prospect is going to hit, but the Bears have had good fortunes under GM Ryan Pace, who unearthed future starters Cameron Meredith and Bryce Callahan as UDFAs early during his time running the show. So it *CAN* happen.
  • And here’s a look at the Bears’ mini-camp roster:

  • So. Many. Names.
  • To make room on the 90-player roster for all the UDFAs, the Bears had to part ways with some guys who had been around for a bit:

  • I thought Willie Beavers had a chance to come in and make an impression, but the Bears might like one of their undrafted guys a little more than they did someone who has been in their camp on and off-and-on basis. And while I don’t want to project too far ahead into the future, parting ways with Beavers and Dejon Allen makes me think an offensive line prospect such as Alex Bars has a fighting shot to land on the practice squad (or even the 53-man roster, depending on how things shake out).
  • Offensive Line Coach Harry Hiestand helped coach a pair of the Bears’ undrafted free agent linemen. In addition to Bars, Hiestand coached Sam Mustipher, a three -year starter for the Fighting Irish who started all 12 games at center last season. The Bears don’t have a center behind Cody Whitehair and James Daniels, so keep that in mind as we roll through mini-camps, training camp, and the preseason.
  • We figured Hiestand would have an impact as a coach, but his presence has helped shape some roster decisions. Bars and Mustipher are the latest Hiestand protégés to make it up to Halas Hall, but the team also had James Stone (who was with Hiestand at Tennessee) on their practice squad last season. Hiestand certainly knows offensive line talent and how to get the most of it, so I don’t see anything wrong with leaning on him when it comes to his area of expertise.
  • Some local flavor at Bears weekend mini-camp:

  • It’s a Bears-Packers family affair:

  • Allen Robinson was under-the-radar good last year. No, he didn’t rack up a ton of catches or reach the 1,000-yard mark, but he was a reliable presence on the offense and someone Mitch Trubisky obviously trusted from the get-go. Robinson’s ability to make contested catches on all sorts of routes helped the Bears offense make the jump from one of the worst in the league to respectability. Keep slinging it and No. 12 will keep catching it.
  • Speaking of slinging it:

  • I was starting to wonder if these rookie receivers and tight ends were just going to be throwing it to themselves or if Head Coach Matt Nagy was going to reprise his role as practice-time QB.
  • Because it’s never too early, The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain digs into the Bears’ depth chart and spots some of the potential roster battles that could be coming down the pipeline.
  • Surprise, surprise: Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton rates the Bears’ defense as the best in football because it’s time to roll out power rankings now that the draft is over. Even though Chicago lost Vic Fangio to Denver, Chuck Pagano is a respected defensive coach who put together a top-3 defense with the Ravens in 2011. That team was loaded with talent, just as this Bears team is entering this season. If history is an indication of what Pagano is capable of, then the Bears are in good hands.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.