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The Longest Shots for Chicago Bears Roster

Bear Digest on FanNation logo Bear Digest on FanNation 7/6/2021 Gene Chamberlain
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Camp Roster Analysis Part 1: The players with the longest odds to make the Bears 53-man roster and their chances of making the practice squad as begins the run to training camp with roll call.

One of the great mysteries about current NFL fans is how every year a group that should be sophisticated after all of the popularity of fantasy football can fail so completely to understand the bottom of a roster come training camp.

Every year social media is abuzz with talk about some players who are 80th or 78th among 90 men on a roster and how they could really have a chance of stepping up to be a hidden gem, a potential starter as an undrafted free agent.

Get real.

In Chicago, it's called Ken Mastrole Syndrome, named for the Bears training camp quarterback who everyone assumed made the team after a big preseason game with the Rams. His sidekick and receiver Kenny Christian was reported to have "all but made the team." Neither made it.

It's very difficult for a  player to make it through modern NFL scouting techniques as an undrafted free agent and then ascend to the 53-man roster. Rarely does a veteran team like the Bears have more than one or two undrafted free agent rookies make the 53-man roster. Last year, none of their undrafted free agent rookies made it.

Those are situations that occur with rebuilding teams and new coaches.

The practice squad spots themselves are valued commodities. 

The NFL allowed 16 practice squad players last year and only four of the spots went to Bears undrafted rookies. One went to seventh-round rookie Lachavious Simmons. The rest were manned by players who had been on practice squads in Chicago or elsewhere, or street free agents who had signed with the Bears for camp.

This year there will be 16 on the practice squads again, unless the league has a change of heart.

Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars are real rarities as undrafted contributors during last year's run to the playoffs. Both played at a premier school as teammates, Notre Dame. So this helped as they lined up next to each other.

But both had a year of seasoning on the practice squad without playing. Most undrafted types lack the advantages Bars and Mustipher had.

The best way for the players low on the roster to make the 53-man is to go through training on the practice squad.

Here are the dirty dozen, the bottom 12 ranked on the Bears roster for this year in training camp, and their chances of making the roster as we go through the 2021 training camp roster roll call.

The best most can hope for is sticking to the practice squad after being cut.

DL LaCale London

Following a year of physical development, he might be a bigger presence in camp than last year. A quicker defensive lineman with good strength for his size, London played down lineman at Western Illinois. But London last year underwent a body transformation while he was on the Bears practice squad. He left Western a 280-pound player and hit the weights in Chicago under strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo. The 6-foot-5, 316-pounder weighed in for OTAs at 316 pounds. He's ideal size now for a Bears defensive lineman, and not just at end. Eddie Goldman played nose at 318. London hasn't had the benefit of a preseason yet, but he has the edge over some of the newer players on the defensive line by being in their system a year and working against NFL players in practice for 17 weeks. 

Roster Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5, with 5 the highest chance. 

Practice Squad Chances: 4 out of 5.

DL Sam Kamara

All-Colonial Athletic Association with the Stony Brook Seawolfs, he is an undersized three-technique defensive tackle at 6-foot-2, 275 and is the size of players the Bears in the past have converted to other positions after asking them to bulk up or drop weight. Most defensive linemen in the Bears defense are in the 300-pound range. He could fit in the way Mario Edwards has, as a three-technique in the four-man pass rush. Asking him to stand up and drop weight to cover the edge like Khalil Mack would be a real stretch because it requires someone with the speed to play in pass coverage, as well. He made a solid 15 career sacks, but only has been in eight games over the last two years due, in part, to a season-ending 2019 injury. His three-technique skills were quite apparent throughout his career. He had 14 tackles in a shortened 2020 season and 7 1/2 of those were for loss. Even if the Bears wind up down a defensive lineman as a result of a possible Eddie Goldman retirement, it would be quite a reach to see Kamara make the regular roster. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 2 out of 5.

RB C.J. Marabel

A third-down type back who is a bit bigger than Tarik Cohen at 5-10, 200. He displays excellent hands and had at least one reception in 32 straight games while rushing for 2,691 yards and 29 touchdowns. He had 84 receptions, including 12 for TDs. He also had some limited kick return experience, averaging a scant 17.4 yards per 13 returns. Marabel might need to beat out Artavis Pierce and Ryan Nall for a seat aboard the practice squad because this is now a deep running back group. 

Roster Chances: None a scale of 0-5. 

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Practice Squad Chances: 2 on a scale of 0-5.

DB Dionte Ruffin

Averaged 24 tackles and 10 pass breakups over the final two years at Western Kentucky and has extensive special teams experience, playing gunner and also returning the ball. The undrafted free agent also blocked two kicks. In the NFL, he'd project as a slot cornerback more than on the outside, and it would be the quickest way to get on the Bears roster due to the wide-open battle at this position. The extra few years others at his position have on him likely would force him to hope for a practice squad spot. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 2 on a scale of 0-5.

CB Rojesterman Farris

Signed with Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2020 but didn't stick. He was a DB for Hawaii before that and had four pass breakups and 25 tackles in his final college season of 2019. A long shot to even make the practice squad. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5.

DL Daniel Archibong

Former Temple defensive lineman who made 5 1/2 sacks and 10 tackles for loss to go with 87 total tackles. Nice size to be a Bears defensive end at 6-6, 300. He'll need to show he has the power to stand up to double teams on the line without permitting penetration. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 2 on a scale of 0-5.

OLB Ledarius Mack

It doesn't look good for Khalil Mack's little brother in his second year. There are other edge rushers coming in and he didn't make much of a dent as a practice squad player. Is his name enough to retain one of the spots on the expanded COVID-19 practice squad? He didn't have a good offseason, and missed some potential offseason practice time due to an undisclosed injury. The preseason games will be essential since he didn't get into any last year.

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 3 on a scale of 0-5.

K Brian Johnson

A camp leg to help take some of the physical strain off Cairo Santos so he doesn't develop any of the groin issues he had in the past. Johnson shows some promise after hitting 76.1% of his kicks in college and making a 55-yarder against North Carolina-Charlotte and 54-yarder against Clemson. He set a school record by making 119 straight extra points. The Bears found the value of having a kicker on the practice squad last year. Would they do it with an undrafted rookie this year? 

Roster Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 3 on a scale of 0-5.

G/T Dareuan Parker

At 6-4, 355, the former Mississippi State player will no doubt need to get into better shape. His slow movement was a reason scouts at NFL Draft Bible thought he would fit better as a guard. The Bears already have a few linemen on the practice squad who can play the same position and have a year experience to their credit, including both of their seventh-round draft picks and former LSU tackle Badara Traore. Earning a practice squad spot is the best Parker could hope for and he'd really need to improve his technique to do this. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 2 on a scale of 0-5.

T Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

It's uncertain what the Bears saw in him while he was playing in The Spring League at tackle, after failing as a tight end where he had played briefly at Michigan. He'll be a long shot to catch on with the practice squad because of his complete inexperience at tackle. If not for his name, he might not even have a camp spot. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5.

WR Khalil McClain

A former quarterback at Tulane, he converted to play X-receiver at 6-4, 222 pounds at Troy and the size he has makes him an interesting prospect from a developmental standpoint. It isn't like the Bears have never had an X-receiver come up off the practice squad. Marcus Robinson was a solid performer for a few years after going this route. He made 77 receptions for 945 yards (12.3 ypc) and used his size well in the red zone with 13 TDs. Whether he has the speed to play this position is a real question. Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5.

ILB Caleb Johnson

Another lighter linebacker in a series the Bears have tried to train over the years, but none have panned out as yet. At 220 pounds, the former Southland Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year averaged 12.2 tackles a game last year for Houston Baptist. He had double-digit tackles in every game. He was third in school history with 278 tackles. Last year the Bears went light on the inside linebacker spots and paid for it. This year, Johnson faces much steeper job competition and any chance he has to stick would be purely developmental with the practice squad. Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, Austin Calitro, Christian Jones, Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods all are ahead of him on the depth chart and last year the Bears only kept four inside linebackers for the 53-man roster. It's unlikely he'll be on the roster but few thought Woods would a couple years ago and he was on the 53-man all last year. 

Roster Chances: None on a scale of 0-5. 

Practice Squad Chances: 1 on a scale of 0-5.


Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven


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