Training camp is just around the corner and the Bears have a number of young players with whom fans should become familiar. They also have a number of players who you won’t remember existed this time next year.
This is my second year doing a ranking of the roster and long gone are the likes of Kieran Duncan, Ben LeCompte and Joe Sommers. Last year’s list was topped with quarterback Jay Cutler — an argument I’d still make — but looking back it’s easy to see why the Bears didn’t win many games. This year, the bottom of their roster is much better and their top 10 is legitimately good.
At the time of this writing, the Bears have a full roster with 90 guys ready to head to camp. You don’t need to know all of them, but you probably want to. To save you some time, I ranked them all again.
90. Mitchell Kirsch, OL. UDFA from James Madison. Really hard to judge what he’ll be. Good size, average athleticism.
89. Hendrick Ekpe, Edge. UDFA who didn’t produce much at Minnesota or test very well at his pro day.
88. William Poehls, OT. Huge guy (6’7″, 334 pounds), Was a UDFA from Montana who has spent time on a couple of practice squads.
87. Titus Davis, WR. Third-year pro who has had trouble sticking with a team. Put up decent numbers at Central Michigan, but it’s hard to see him making the team. His brother Corey was the fifth pick in the draft last April.
86. Rashaad Reynolds, CB. A bit small (5’10”, 189) but jumped well at the combine in 2014. Hasn’t been able to stick after spending time with the Jaguars and Lions.
85. Daniel Braverman, WR. The next Wes Welker, right? Not quite. After what many thought was a strong training camp, Braverman didn’t make the final roster last year and nobody claimed him. When he finally got on the field, he had a tough time getting open and didn’t make anywhere near the impact many thought he would. Easily the winner of the 2016 Joe Anderson Boner Award. Could he repeat in 2017?
Jeff’s Note: Hahah.
84. Isaiah Irving, Edge. Decent size and showed explosiveness at his pro day with a 36-inch vertical, but lacked in other athletic tests. Had seven sacks as a senior at San Jose St., but combined for just four in his first three years.
83. Kapron Lewis-Moore, DL. Notre Dame alum has spent some time with the Ravens before coming to the Bears. Appeared in three games in 2015.
82. Dieugot Joseph, OT. Good height, needs to add some weight. Physical skills, needs a lot of coaching.
81. Joel Bouagnon, RB. Has good size and decent athleticism, but he’ll have an uphill battle.
80, Rashaad Coward, DL. Great size (6’5″, 322) and athleticism for the position. UDFA from Old Dominion will need some coaching, but he has a shot to stick.
79. Alex Scearce, LB. UDFA from Coastal Carolina. Maybe a little small, but he’s a good athlete. Had 84 tackles, eight sacks and five interceptions last year. Could be a sleeper.
Jeff note: I’m going to keep an eye on this kid. Strikes me as somebody who fits the physical profile of a prolific, tenacious special teamer.
78. Connor Shaw, QB. A hero of last year’s preseason despite throwing just 16 passes. He’s a classic garbage time star because he plays well outside of structure, but there’s no real evidence that he can play in structure. Bears already cut him once and brought him back only because Mark Sanchez was injured.
77. Freddie Stevenson, FB. Some are high on the UDFA from Florida State, but the Bears signed a veteran even after seeing him throughout minicamp.
76. Tanner Gentry, WR. The UDFA from Wyoming who had a huge part in the hype surrounding Josh Allen. Word is he had a good minicamp. Could be a good practice squad candidate.
Jeff’s note: Andrew nailed this one. I think the Bears would love to stash Gentry away on the practice squad for a season and build him up.
75. DeAndre Houston-Carson, S. Was supposed to be a special teams stud but played just 25% of the special teams snaps and just eight total snaps on defense. Had a productive collegiate career but just might not be a good enough athlete to play in the NFL.
74. Jonathan Anderson, LB. Showed flashes as a UDFA in 2015 but had a hard time finding the field last year. He’s athletic but doesn’t seem to have a feel for the game.
73. Cyril Richardson, OL. Huge guy (6’5″, 343) who has actually played some in the NFL, but not since 2014.
72. Taylor Boggs, OL. Boggs has been here before and I don’t like his chances this time around either. He’s the kind of player coaches seem to love but always end up cutting.
71. Andy Phillips, K. UDFA kicker who I want to see have an actual chance at the job. Made 84 percent of his kicks in college, which isn’t great, but he was four-for-four on kicks over 50 yards. Also was credited with seven tackles in college.
Jeff’s note: Maybe he can play safety.
70. Ben Braunecker, TE. Bronk was supposed to be the surprise UDFA of 2016, but it didn’t happen. Only played about 14 percent of the offensive snaps and didn’t really do much. But it isn’t uncommon for tight ends to take time to develop and he’s still got potential.
69. Rueben Randle, WR. Was actually a productive player just two years ago, but didn’t make the Eagles last year and wasn’t signed by anybody else.
Jeff’s note: Saw a lot of Randle in New York. He’s talented but frustrating. Eli Manning quit on him.
68. Brady Sowell, OT. Journeyman offensive tackle started nine games for the Seahawks last year and 12 for Arizona in 2013. If he’s playing, the Bears will be in trouble.
67. John Timu, LB. Started seven games the last two years and has racked up some solid tackle numbers. He’s a liability in coverage and doesn’t offer anything on special teams.
66. John Jenkins, DL. Started 12 games for New Orleans in 2015 but hasn’t been able to stay on the field since then. Played just two games for Seattle last year. Big, run-stuffer who doesn’t offer much pass rush.
65. Dan Skuta, LB. Been around the block playing for Cincinnati, San Francisco and Jacksonville. Started 10 games the last two years for the Jags and 18 games for Vic Fangio with the 49ers in 2013 and 2014. Not sure he has anything left in the tank but probably still better than Timu or Anderson.
64. C.J. Wilson, DL. Played pretty well late in the season after the Bears signed him off the street. A seven-year veteran who is just a borderline roster guy.
63. Mycole Pruitt, TE. Probably the Bears deepest position right now so I have a hard time seeing Pruitt making the cut unless he can also play fullback.
62. Deonte Thompson, WR/KR. Thompson didn’t bring the same burst to the kick return game that he did last year and the Bears have since added a few players capable of taking his job. Still an adequate deep threat.
Jeff’s note: I’d be surprised if the Bears don’t find some role Thompson this year based on age and versatility.
61. Deiondré Hall, S. Couldn’t find the field as a corner and is now a safety. A position change this early doesn’t seem like a good sign.
Jeff’s note: No, it’s not a good sign…unless it is. Ed Donatell knows what he’s doing with the back end of a defense and the Bears are desperate for safeties. Hall has great ball skills and plays better with his eyes toward the backfield. It. Could. Work.
60. Christian Jones, LB. Once a highly thought of UDFA, Jones looks lost when he gets on the field these days. He’s a good athlete and a good special teams player, but he just hasn’t progressed the way many — including Vic Fangio — thought he would.
Jeff’s note: I think Jones may be overvalued on Andrew’s list but I’ve never been as pro-Jones as the Bears seem to be.