Chicago Bears: 4 Undrafted Free Agents Who Could Possibly Make Team
For most college football players their dreams of hearing their name being called on draft day never actually become a reality. Instead of a screenshot of them hugging their mom with their cell phone pressed against their ear they are left to wonder if there is still any shot of making their dream of playing in the NFL a reality.
Immediately following the draft, NFL teams contact dozens of players who they think may have some potential to help their team and invite them to rookie minicamp. After evaluation, most players are sent home, leaving a select few to get an opportunity to go to training camp and continue their dreams.
Eleven undrafted free agents signed contracts with the Bears following the draft and another handful were brought in on a tryout basis for the rookie minicamp in May. Following camp, the Bears signed seven more rookies and they will all be competing for a limited number of spots on this roster.
Here are four undrafted players who could possibly make the 2012 Chicago Bears roster.
Brandon Venson, Tight End
After starting his collegiate career at Northern Illinois University in 2007 and then transferring to College of DuPage the following season, Brandon Venson finally found a home at Illinois State University.
Venson was used primarily as a blocking tight end at ISU but has impressed at Bears camp with his hands. Standing at 6'3" and weighing in at 245 pounds, Venson has prototypical size for an NFL tight end.
With the addition of Evan Rodriguez with their fourth-round pick as well as veterans Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, Venson will likely be competing with second year player Kyle Adams for a chance to be a special teams player or possibly even a practice team member. If the Bears feel that Rodriguez's is better suited as a fullback/h-back, Venson has a strong possibility of breaking camp as a part of the 53-man roster.
Ronnie Thornton, Linebacker
With a pair of linebackers like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, the Bears have been blessed with two of the best players at their respective positions. With both getting older, the Bears need to start bulking up their linebacker corps and they hope that undrafted free agent Ronnie Thornton can develop into a future contributor on defense.
At 6'3" and 240 pounds, Thornton is bit stockier than most for a a linebacker but he is quick on his feet and a natural athlete. Thornton struggled in college zone coverage and is more of a "nose for the ball" type of linebacker. Thornton's good footwork and burst could help him develop in to a weak-side linebacker at the NFL level, but he will need to work on his ability to read and react to the play.
Thornton could make this team primarily as a special teams contributor and could find himself filling the role previously held by linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Tim Shaw. Thornton will likely be competing against last year's draft pick J.T. Thomas and second-year linebacker Patrick Trahan.
Ronnie Cameron, Defensive Tackle
After the release of Anthony Adams and the decision to let Amobi Okoye walk, the Bears were left with just three defensive tackles on their roster (Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Matt Toeiana). The Bears elected not to select any defensive tackles in the draft and signed veterans John McCargo and Demario Pressley.
Ronnie Cameron was the only rookie defensive tackle signed to the roster and will have a tough rope to climb if he wants to claim a spot on the 53-man roster.
At Old Dominion, Cameron never faced the highest level of competition, but he was a dominating disruptive force who utilized his quick jump off the ball and his ability to stop the run. The biggest knock on Cameron is the low level of competition he faced and many wonder if his game can translate against bigger, stronger and faster competition.
Cameron has a shot to hang on with the team given the fact that McCargo, Pressley and veteran Nate Collins will all need to prove themselves as well. Cameron's high motor and youth might be his biggest assets to an aging defense.
James Brown, Offensive Tackle
There is little doubt that the most valuable asset the Bears possess is quarterback Jay Cutler, meaning job No. 1 is to protect their QB.
Last year's draft saw the Bears select Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi with their first selection, and many thought this year's draft would find the Bears selecting yet another offensive lineman. The draft came and went and yet no additions were made in the seven rounds of the 2012 draft.
Brown stands at 6'4" and weighs 304 pounds and possesses the long arms that most NFL scouts search for in an offensive tackle. Despite spending much of his time at left tackle at Troy, many scouts predict Brown moving to the inside to one of the guard positions.
The Bears currently have a plethora of offensive lineman that can play multiple positions on the line and Brown's ability to play both the outside and inside will likely help his cause of making the 53-man roster.
Brown will likely be competing with guards Edwin Williams and Chilo Rachal for the roles of backing up probable starters Chris Spencer and Lance Louis.