Gabriel: Which Bears UDFAs Could Earn Roster Spot?

With good size and route running ability, tight end Dax Raymond is one to watch.

Greg Gabriel
April 29, 2019 - 12:15 pm
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(670 The Score) As the Bears had only five draft picks and none in the first two rounds, they ended up being a preferred destination for some players who went undrafted, as there isn't quite as much competition in the way of rookies as there would be elsewhere.

The Bears have signed 21 undrafted free agents, general manager Ryan Pace told the Mully & Haugh Show on Monday morning. That's by far the most such players the Bears have signed in recent years.

Defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris, linebacker Isaiah Irving, offensive lineman Rashaad Coward and corner Kevin Toliver are examples of undrafted free agents who are contributors on the Bears' roster. Once again, the Bears will be looking for some diamonds in the rough.

Some of the Bears' 21 undrafted free agent signings have already been revealed. Of those, I can see at least four challenging for a spot on the team's 53-man roster based on what they did in college.

Let's break them down.

Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State

In preparing the Pro Football Weekly draft guide, I felt that Raymond had fourth- to fifth-round value. He has good size for his position at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, and he runs fairly well, having timed 4.73 at the NFL Combine. He also was productive at Utah State, catching 41 passes in 2017 and another 27 in 2018. In the Utah State offense, he was used mostly as a short- to medium-length route runner. He showed he could work to get open, had a burst out of cuts and was sure-handed.

Raymond also blocks well both in space and at the line of scrimmage. He can earn position as well as create movement.

Why wasn’t he drafted? More than likely, it's his age. Raymond went on a two-year Mormon mission coming out of high school, so he will be a 24-year-old rookie.

Of all the undrafted free agents signed by the Bears, I feel Raymond has the best chance of making the roster. It's a position of need for the Bears, and Raymond showed in college that he can line up as a Y as well as be a move tight end. I’ll go out on the limb and say that not only will he make the Bears' roster, he will contribute as a rookie.

Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

Following the combine, Hall was one of the hot names because of his outstanding workout. He measured 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds and ran the 40 at a fast 4.39 clip. He also leaped 43 inches in the vertical jump and an unheard of 11 feet, 9 inches in the standing long jump.

Hall caught a combined 70 passes for 1,645 yards, a 23.5-yards-per-catch average and 14 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Missouri. He's a deep threat. With those kind of numbers there were some analysts who felt he would be as high as a third-round pick.

So why wasn't Hall drafted? Reports are that as talented as he is, he may have a track mentality, which means that he has to be perfect from a physical viewpoint to play. Hall missed four games in 2018, and many felt he should have played in some of those games. He also has inconsistent hands, as he body catches some balls and has displayed too many drops.

With his physical traits, Hall will be given every opportunity to make the Bears roster. Few have the kind of speed and explosiveness he has. He will need to toughen up and show he can play through minor nicks if he wants to play in the NFL.

Alex Bars, OL, Notre Dame

Early in his career at Notre Dame, Bars was a backup tackle. In 2017, he was moved inside to guard and became a starter. Bars was inconsistent that season, as he lacked the strength required to be a top player. That led him to be on the ground too often and not finish blocks.

Based on his 2017 play, Bars was rated as an undrafted free agent going into this past season. Bars dedicated himself to getting bigger and stronger during the offseason, and that work paid off as scouts felt he could now be a mid- to late-round draft pick. That all ended when he tore his ACL and had surgery in November.

Right now, Bars is a bit of a question mark because of his health. Will he be ready for camp? Based on how he played in 2018 prior to his injury, Bars is a good run blocker who shows strength at the point of attack and is also a good pass blocker. He can set quickly and mirror as well as anchor. Bars was coached for much of his college career by Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who knows exactly what Bars can and can't do well.

As we get closer to camp, we will know much more about Bars' health. If he isn’t ready for the beginning of camp, he may be a candidate to redshirt for the season on non-football injury or physically-unable-to-perform list. In the long run, that may be best for his career, as he gets that year to train as well as learn and understand the offense.

Chuck Harris, edge, Buffalo

Harris was a three-year starter at Buffalo as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. He was productive in those three seasons, recording 19.5 sacks. That production came even as he missed three games and parts of two others with a shoulder injury in 2018.

Harris has size and athleticism, measuring 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds at his pro day and running a 4.70 in the 40. He has length to go along with that athleticism and also has good playing strength. What he hasn’t done is drop into coverage, which he will be asked to do with the Bears. In the Bears' scheme, the outside linebackers are used primarily as pass rushers but are asked to drop at times too, so that's an area that Harris will have to work on.

I've seen a number of games Harris has played and if one trait stands out, it’s his down-after-down consistency. He has showcased a good competitive nature, has good hand use and some natural pass rushing talent. Like any down defensive end in college who will be asked to play on his feet in the NFL, there will be a period of adjustment -- but Harris has the tools to challenge for a reserve role on the Bears' roster.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.