Friday, June 2, 2023

Matt Eberflus Sounds Convinced Nicholas Morrow Is A Steal For Bears


Being overlooked is nothing new for Nicholas Morrow. He didn’t get much attention from major colleges coming out of high school, so he had to work his way up from Division III Greenville. That was enough to earn him an undrafted free agent opportunity with the Las Vegas Raiders. Then he surprised everybody by developing into a starter. Sadly what appeared to be some serious momentum was derailed in 2021 by an ankle injury. That doesn’t seem to have bothered Matt Eberflus much.

The Chicago Bears head coach was asked about the new Bears free agent addition by Larry Mayer of Most fans likely see him as somebody who will compete for a starting job once the position group is settled in the next month. Based on what Eberflus had to say, that isn’t the case. He views Morrow as a legitimate starter and also appears to have big plans in store for him.

“His résumé is the tape,” Eberflus said. “Worker. Prepares. Very smart. You can see the athleticism on tape, his ability to cover in space. He can cover a lot of ground, cover tight ends, cover backs. So he’s an exciting piece to add.”

One undeniable thing is the Bears linebacking corps is a lot more athletic.

Morrow brings many of the same attributes to the table as Roquan Smith from his speed, versatility, and coverage prowess. Eberflus has said the two could be almost interchangeable between the middle and weakside linebacker spots. That should make the Bears’ defense more difficult to attack. Never mind that he’ll get to work under the same staff that molded Darius Leonard into an All-Pro with the Indianapolis Colts.

One thing is clear. If he plays near the level he did with the Raiders in 2020 or even takes a step forward, that $3 million the Bears got him for will seem like chump change. Morrow likely won’t ever become a true star, but he’s the sort of quality role player that can be a significant contributor. Sort of that Hunter Hillenmeyer-type. He never got the attention of an Urlacher or Briggs but always seemed to pop up with nice plays every week.

Bears aren’t finished even with Nicholas Morrow arrival.

Their linebacker position is still missing another starter and has severe depth questions. Right now, Ledarius Mack, Noah Dawkins, Caleb Johnson, and Joe Thomas are their four other options. None of them stand out as ideal options for their strongside linebacker spot. Of the four, perhaps Johnson might be the most intriguing. He had numerous flashes as an undrafted rookie last season. It seems more likely that another addition is coming via veteran free agency or the draft.

One notable name that might fit what they’re looking for is Anthony Barr. The former Pro Bowler was a tremendous outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, but injuries hampered his two previous seasons. That didn’t stop him from collecting three interceptions and 2.5 sacks in 2021. The price might be an issue with him, though. As for the draft, one name that makes perfect sense is Jesse Luketa of Penn State. He has the size, strength, physicality, and motor the Bears are looking for.

This will be something to watch.

For now, the Bears seem satisfied with having Nicholas Morrow in the fold. They feel he offers dimensions the defense will need to function at a high level moving forward. This defensive scheme might end up being perfect for him.

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