By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
The Chicago Bears signed seven key players to contracts that would officially keep them on the roster. But after the NFL Draft was finished the Bears continued to sign players that were undrafted hopefuls in an attempt to put together a strong solid roster, including a solid practice squad as insurance.
So imagine general manager Ryan Pace setting the roster like the chess game in the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With training camp and preseason coming up, which of the pieces (players) will stay, and which will eventually be cut?
Below is a brief description of the defensive UDFA signees:
Kevin Toliver II, CB/LSU: Toliver was a five-star recruit with a bit of the NFL world taking notice. He is known to be a bit cocky but can back it up with his playmaking skills. Standing at 6-2” he has the ideal height for a corner. He loves to break up routes and plays pretty well in coverage. The downside is the injury issues that caused him to miss a few starting spots. He is notably the best cornerback of the undrafted free agents and could end up on the roster, but he will need to put his attitude in check and learn from the best.
Rashard Fant, CB/ Indiana: I like Fant! He is an undersized corner who has the heart of a fierce playmaker. He is a little undersized at 5’-10” but has the ability to go up and challenge jump balls at its highest point! At his Pro Day Fant recorded a 4.3 in his 40. Now that is fast! As a matter of fact, according to PFF Chi Bears, his 2016 season was big as he allowed only 53.3 passer rating when targeted. That’s insane!
Would not surprise me if Fant and/or Toliver won the backup positions at corner.
— Justin Boyd🐻⬇ (@JustinBoyd92) April 30, 2018
Michael Joseph, DB/Dubuque: Pace loves small school gems and he got one in Michael Joseph. He was projected in the draft just like Fant and Toliver in the later rounds. However, Joseph is quite a contributor in the return game. He can play any corner position, especially in the nickel spot, competing with Bryce Callahan. Depending on how well he does in training camp. He stands at 6’-1”, 187 pounds which is a little on the light side. But I like his twitch and burst on throws and soft hands on the catch.
Nick Orr, DB/TCU: Sure why not add another defensive back to the party! Well, Orr has the ability to play both corner and safety. I believe the Bears will use him in the safety position on special teams. Orr lacks the speed and athleticism needed to play as a first string but he is truly physical when delivering a big hit.
Nyles Morgan, ILB/Notre Dame: Morgan lacks the playmaking skills and athletic traits needed for the linebacker position. He has a great motor and accelerates into tackles with good finish wrap-ups. However, his chase speed and range is not at NFL standard. He also will occasionally run himself out of a play and is slow to recognize play fakes. He may end up on the practice squad but not likely.
Cavon Walker, EDGE/Maryland: The Bears failed to take a true edge rusher in the draft but took a chance on Walker to see what he can contribute. Walker was originally a linebacker who transitioned to defensive end. He has an aggressive burst but not pro ready.
Elijah Norris, EDGE/Shepherd: Another small school pick up, Norris is an athletic pass rusher who plays fast and has great pad level. He needs to improve strength but has the size and skills to be an outside linebacker in the pass rush. He fits the 3-4 scheme of Vic Fangio and has the nasty attitude which is perfect for this defense.
UDFA No. 7 EDGE Elijah Norris. They are putting late assets into pass rusher https://t.co/oMP9L3hvCz
— Bear Goggles On (@BearGogglesOn) April 28, 2018
Andrew Trumbetti, DE/Notre Dame: Trumbetti played on the defensive line for the Irish and will most likely tryout for the Bears in the OLB position. Not a high upside in terms of sacks as he only recorded two in his college career, but he is a workhorse who can hammer it out in the trenches. Not expecting him to stay.
Abdullah Anderson, DL/Bucknell: Another small school gem here with Anderson. He is an amazing athlete, even at one time playing point guard for his basketball team. He stands at 6’-4”, 295 pounds and has incredible pad levels, takes no prisoners at the point of attack, especially with his upper body. His specialty is blocking kicks as he did that four times in his college career. But he needs some work.
Bunmi (Olubunmi) Rotimi, DE/Old Dominion: Rotimi has had some injury issues and lacks the agility and bend to be a serious pass rusher. However, he has potential with some added mass to be a defensive tackle in the 1-gap or a stand-up linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Don’t see him on the Bears future roster.
All in all, the Bears are determined to bring back the Monsters of the Midway no matter what.
Talk Bears with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63