The Chicago Bears added a slew of undrafted free agents this year. No fewer than 36, including rookie minicamp tryouts. That is bananas. It is a clear indication GM Ryan Poles wants to give his coaching staff a buffet of options to look at. With the Bears trying to overturn the roster as quickly as possible, it makes sense they’d be more open to such options. Maybe they get lucky and find one or two gems.
So who are the names Bears fans should keep an eye on? When it comes to evaluating undrafted players, it comes down to two factors that should stick out. Their athletic profile or their college production. If both are average or below average, their chances of cracking the roster are remote. On the other hand, if one or the other stood out in a big way, those are the guys worth watching.
Several Chicago Bears undrafted rookies have a real shot
Savon Scarver (WR, Utah State)
The Bears signed or invited to rookie minicamps a total of seven undrafted receivers. It is clear they intend to scour the landscape for anybody who might have gone overlooked at that position. When it comes to making the back end of a roster, special teams often separate the winners and losers. Scarver was never a standout receiver, but he was a lethal return man. Across five years of college, he scored seven kick return touchdowns. Yes, seven. While he does have size concerns (only 175 lbs), there is no question he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Jean Delance (OT, Florida)
Athletic offensive linemen are required to run the type of offense Luke Getsy and the Bears desire. So it isn’t a surprise they targeted Delance. As a three-year starter, he demonstrated plenty of mobility for his size, good length, and a finisher mentality. Draft experts thought he’d go somewhere in the 5th round range. The physical ability is there. The concerns are technical. His hand usage is erratic, and he doesn’t have great recovery prowess if he’s initially beaten off the snap. His best option might be a move inside, where he’s less susceptible to speed.
#Florida OT Jean Delance has had a great week, showing off his length and quick feet. Taking a rep at left tackle here, as opposed to his natural right. @ShrineBowl @GatorsFB pic.twitter.com/PE4GiP7Hkd
— Owen Riese (@RieseDraft) February 1, 2022
Chase Allen (TE, Iowa State)
You can’t teach size. At 6’7, there is no question that Allen is on the bigger side for tight ends. He couples that with a strong pair of hands that enabled him to make some impressive catches in college. However, his greatest calling card is his blocking. The power, technique, and attitude show up in the run game. Considering the Chicago Bears will utilize an outside-zone system, it makes perfect sense they’d want a tight end that can deliver good blocks on the edge. That will get his foot in the door. The pass-catching potential might blossom with more work.
Ralph Holley (DT, Western Michigan)
It isn’t a surprise Holley went undrafted. Teams are always wary of defensive tackles that are 6’1 and under 300 lbs. One thing can’t be argued, though. Across four years, from 2018 to 2021, the kid was a nightmare to block. In 40 games for the Broncos, he racked up 18.5 sacks and 45.5 tackles for a loss. Last year, his game against Michigan is a good indicator of what he brings with a sack, a tackle for loss, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble. His great quickness off the snap, natural leverage, and ability to shoot gaps is perfect for Matt Eberflus’ new defense as a three-technique.
Western Michigan has a really flashy IDL prospect in Ralph Holley (#8). Shoots gap between C-RG and gets under them to blow this play up. Twitch jumps off the screen and plays all over the DL. pic.twitter.com/cKWfXTakvc
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) July 1, 2021
Jack Sanborn (LB, Wisconsin)
The primary knock on Sanborn is typical for a linebacker. He doesn’t have the preferred speed to entice NFL teams. That said, some attributes make him attractive to the Chicago Bears. They need options on the strong side or “SAM” position. With his 6’2 frame and ability to generate pressure as a blitzer, that might be where he fits best. What he lacks in speed he makes up for with instincts and intelligence. He was rarely out of position. He might be a part-time player, but there is still value.
Coney Durr (DB, Minnesota)
When evaluators zeroed in on Durr, they identified his modest size (5’10) and average speed as primary reasons he went undrafted. That is fair. Corners need at least one of those to generate interest. However, it’s impossible to deny one thing. The corner got his hands on the football a lot. Across four years as a starter, he had four interceptions, and 25 passes defended for the Gophers. He also had ability as an extra blitzer. Durr is the trademark zone corner with limited athletic upside but great instincts and ball skills.