The Chicago Bears added several undrafted rookies this off-season. Their most in several years. GM Ryan Poles and the coaching staff seem intent on scouring the college prospect market for any hidden gems they can find. This happens when a team has no 1st round pick, little spending money, and an aging roster. In most cases, an undrafted class doesn’t yield anybody noteworthy. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any intriguing names to watch. In fact, the one that has been getting lots of buzz is Jack Sanborn.
One of the more interesting subplots of the Bears’ offseason was how quiet they were at linebacker. Their only notable addition was veteran Nicholas Morrow who came over from the Raiders. Nobody else stands out as an obvious starter candidate. In this sort of situation, it can often be easy for an overlooked rookie to come out of nowhere. Bleacher Report scouting specialist Brent Sobleski called Sanborn the most “exciting” undrafted player Chicago acquired, believing he is somebody that can contribute right away in multiple facets.
“A prospect with a reliable (albeit limited) skill set isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Wisconsin’s Jack Sanborn is a between-the-tackles linebacker with good instincts, consistent tackling and an understanding of where to be when spot-dropping into coverage.
Due to his lack of overall athleticism, Sanborn can be exposed when asked to cover for any extended amount of time or to run sideline to sideline. The first-team All-Big Ten selection can still thrive on early downs when asked to play downhill or when asked to blitz the quarterback, though.”
Jack Sanborn can serve two purposes for the Bears.
The first is as a downhill linebacker on defense. His biggest strengths center around attacking the line of scrimmage to stop running plays and blitzing the quarterback. His six sacks and 53 pressures were among the best in the Big Ten between 2020 and 2021. Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams will recognize the value of such a player in the right situations. The key will be limiting his exposure in coverage.
Then there is the special teams angle. Jack Sanborn was an unselfish football player in every way. Despite being a core starter on defense every week, he still did his part on the punt coverage team for three years at Wisconsin. So he won’t shrink from the idea of earning his way onto the team through the third phase. Bears coaches said they want guys that can do more than one thing well. The linebacker checks that box.
Fans should see Sanborn as another Nick Kwiatkoski. He’ll never flash on the field athletically, but he always seems to be around the football. Guys like that are worth keeping.