Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Did Chicago Bears Quietly Get An Undrafted Steal? Ex-Scout Thinks So

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Finding quality talent on the undrafted market is often what separates good teams from the rest. It isn’t a coincidence that the Chicago Bears had significant team success the last time they found great value in the undrafted market. Names like Bryce Callahan and Roy Robertson-Harris helped them win their division title in 2018. GM Ryan Poles has worked hard to find such value since taking over in 2022. Thus far, he’s found some encouraging successes, including linebacker Jack Sanborn, cornerback Josh Blackwell, and quarterback Tyson Bagent.

Hopes are high that they may find more contributors in the 2024 class. Most experts have pinpointed names like defensive end Jamree Kromah of James Madison and defensive tackle Keith Randolph of Illinois as ones to watch. Canadian standout Theo Benedet is also getting some buzz. However, former scouting director Greg Gabriel stated on Windy City Gridiron that one name may have gotten overlooked. That is Kentucky tight end Brenden Bates, who has a chance to secure the third spot behind Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett.

Bates is an interesting guy. He played his college football at Kentucky and was used mainly as their Y tight end. He is a good blocker, but he has never been used much as a receiver. Last year, he had all of four receptions for the season. The year before, he had ten catches. What is interesting is he had a very good Pro Day and showed how athletic he is. He measured 6043 246, ran a 4.66, and had a 10’2” long jump and a 33.5” vertical jump. He also did 21 reps of 225 when he benched.

There is no question he has talent, but he has been seldom used as a receiver. On tape, he shows very good blocking ability both from the Y position and when flexed out. With his natural talent, the preseason will be very important for him.

The Chicago Bears want to know how much of Bates they can unlock.

People jumping on his lack of production in college should be careful. Antonio Gates, a future Hall of Famer, didn’t even play college football before becoming a tight end in the NFL. This is why measuring the talent comes first. There are many possible reasons why Bates never produced in college. A likely one is the tight ends were never prioritized in Mark Stoops’ offenses at Kentucky. It isn’t a coincidence no tight end has ever been drafted from that program since he took over in 2013. The focus is always on the wide receivers and running backs.

One thing is certain: The Chicago Bears know they have a player who embraces the role of blocking. He did well in the Wild Cats’ run-first attack. What they want to know is whether he offers anything else. Blocking alone might not be enough to earn a roster spot. This team has said several times they want guys with versatility. Bates must show he has potential as a pass-catcher if he will be the first Kentucky tight end to crack an NFL roster in over a decade.

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3 COMMENTS

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badsmitty
badsmitty
Jun 7, 2024 12:59 pm

I hope he works out we need another tightend

Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
Jun 7, 2024 12:23 pm

Good luck to TE Bates, he will need much of it: requires very good bocking, a role on special teams with good tackling, ability to catch direct and simple passes without drops, and free up others with effective body screens etc.

BearDownTX
Jun 7, 2024 11:17 am

Gonna be a lot of Greg Gabriel for the next 2 months…ugh!

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