Chicago Bears Undrafted Free Agency Signings
Pace grabs key depth players in undrafted free agency.
The Chicago Bears 2019 draft class was as decent as they come when you don’t pick until the third round. They got the running backs to replace Jordan Howard in David Montgomery and Kerrith Whyte from Florida Atlantic, who has experience on special teams. They got Riley Ridley, the stud 6’1” receiver from Georgia, to make the passing game even more dynamic opposite Allen Robinson and company. Also, they got two cornerbacks in Duke Shelley of Kansas State and Stephen Denmark from Valdosta State. The only thing I wish they would have done in this draft is got some offensive line help, but have no fear the undrafted free agency signings are here!
Not one but two offensive linemen from Notre Dame, Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars, are expected to sign with the Bears. They will be reuniting with former Fighting Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, the current Bears offensive line coach. In Hiestand’s final year with the Irish, their offense put up 2,326 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and a massive 3,503 rushing yards with 35 rushing touchdowns to go with it. Now, a big part of that surge was their freak of nature offensive line leader, Quenton Nelson, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts just a year ago.
No worries here though, Hiestand was the brains behind that line and Bears fans should be very excited and hopeful these two young players get to reconnect with him to make some magic. Two other offensive linemen worth noting are former Baylor guard Blake Blackmar and Ohio OL Joe Lowery. It is very nice to add some depth at this position considering injuries happen and Kyle Long is not the same player he once was.
A few other players worth noting are Quarterback Austin Allen from Arkansas, who’s expected to attend Bears minicamp, San Diego State kicker John Baron II, Missouri receiver Emanuel Hall, Michigan DL Lawrence Marshall, Utah State tight end Dax Raymond, Georgia Southern tight end Ellis Richardson, former Buffalo Bull edge rusher Chuck Harris, Canadian defensive lineman Mathieu Betts, Widener safety Jordan Powell, and Appalachian State cornerback Clifton Duck are all expected to make their way to the windy city.
Ryan Pace has definitely addressed the Bears biggest holes, after the draft of course, in the undrafted free agency. The running theme here is his confidence in the Bears coaching staff to groom these players from college boys into battle ready men. I like his reach here. The offensive line depth is an absolute must-have and I love the two players coming over from Notre Dame.
The two tight ends are worth looking at here as well. Dax Raymond is 6’5” 250lbs and had 27 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns last year for Utah State. Ellis Richardson is 6-3, 240lbs and had 19 catches for 266 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons with Georgia Southern. It’s a possibility that Ryan Pace missed on Trey Burton. His inability to be a part of that wild card loss to the Eagles is still stuck in my mind and it’s nice to see the Bears add some depth there just in case he truly is a bust for them.
The Bears also have four kickers now. It will definitely be a huge and daunting competition for these young players to see who will get the honor of being immediately scrutinized in a teeter-totter market like Chicago. John Baron’s kicking percentage went down every year he was with San Diego State from 91.3 to 80 to 77.3 percent. It’s not a great resume but everyone starts somewhere and we’ll see if he can improve at the next level.
Finally, we have Chuck Harris who comes from Khalil Mack’s alma mater, the Buffalo Bulls. This one specifically excites me because we always can use depth pass rushers and who better to learn from than the “Mack Attack” himself! I mentioned it in a previous pre-draft article that it was possible they could find a protégé for Mack to take on. Harris being from Buffalo just might give Khalil the desire to pass the torch and make one hell of a dynamic duo.
Featured Photo: Chicago Sun-Times