Friday, June 2, 2023

A.J. Thomas Becomes Third Amid Flurry Of New Bears Additions


Prior to the start of rookie minicamps, the Chicago Bears had 16 undrafted free agents under contract. That number has now increased to 18 following the three days of work. Wide receiver Savon Scarver was released while three defensive players were added. Ball State linebacker Christian Albright and North Arizona pass rusher Carson Taylor were the first to earn contracts after successful tryouts. Now a third is joining them in Western Michigan safety A.J. Thomas.

Like many incoming rookies, Thomas is unusually experienced with five years of work in college. In that time he compiled 221 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two interceptions, 14 passes defended, and two defensive touchdowns. He also earned plenty of playing time on special teams, which no doubt increased his value in the eyes of the Bears coaching staff. What will be interesting is where they plan to play him.

Thomas will remind Bears fans of Brian Urlacher.

No, not in terms of freakish talent. More in body type. Though technically a safety, his frame is more that of a linebacker at 6’2, 220 lbs. That is why his coaching staff tended to move him around in certain situations. It will be interesting to see if the Bears see him more as a classic strong safety or if they feel he might have more potential as a linebacker. Keep in mind he ran a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. That would be considered on the slow side for a safety, but manageable for a linebacker.

It’s interesting that the Bears decided to sign three defensive players off tryouts. That also includes eight undrafted free agents they signed prior to minicamps, bringing the total to 11. This would suggest the team is digging deep to find players that fit their new 4-3 scheme under Matt Eberflus. Especially at the linebacker spot where they lack depth. A.J. Thomas would have a better chance of making the roster through that avenue rather than trying to compete on what looks to be a loaded safety position after the arrival of two draft picks in Jaquan Brisker and Elijah Hicks.

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