First-year GM Ryan Poles went wild on Day 3 of the NFL Draft, collecting picks and using (a bunch of) them on offensive linemen. Considering the Bears’ needs at the position at the time (and moving forward), it was a heady move. Zachary Thomas was among the Day 3 picks by Poles. And there was even a time when Thomas could’ve played his way into the starting lineup. It didn’t happen, but he ultimately landed on the practice squad.
Which is where he stayed until today.
Because the Los Angeles Rams — a team that needs offensive line depth help more than the Bears, I guess — are signing him to the active roster:
Thomas was a sixth-round pick (186th overall) who had experience collegiate experience from his time at San Diego State at guard and tackle. His NFL Draft profile (which we discussed thoroughly here) spoke highly of his upper body (and its room for muscle), athleticism, and pad level — all boxes you’d check for a developing offensive lineman. Sure, he was a prospect with flaws … but who among sixth-round picks doesn’t have a few kinks to iron out. That Thomas found his way onto Chicago’s practice squad made sense because he felt like a stash squad candidate after watching training camp and the preseason play out. But that the Bears didn’t elevate Thomas to the active roster in order to block the Rams from doing it catches me by surprise.
Maybe the Bears like what they have in terms of depth. Perhaps the team wants to use that practice squad roster spot in a different way. It is possible Poles believes that he can find another player like that elsewhere in free agency (or in next year’s draft), which would make it understandable as to why the Bears didn’t just promote Thomas in the first place. In any case, good for Thomas getting a shot on an active NFL roster. And good for the Bears for drafting someone who another team would want to poach from your practice squad.