With the draft over, everyone has had time to look over their picks and the list of undrafted free agents. So now the question becomes, which rookies will stick, which will get cut, and what poor, unsuspecting veterans will be handed their papers before the September 13 kickoff with the Green Bay Packers.
The drafted rookies who will be on the roster come the start of the season:
Jarron Gilbert, Juaquin Iglesias, Henry Melton, Johnny Knox and probably D.J. Moore.
This is for obvious reasons. Any player taken in the first four rounds is almost always promised at least a year (Gilbert, Iglesias, Melton and Moore). Knox was taken in the fifth and with the lack of depth at wide receiver and his blazing speed, he will stick.
The drafted rookies who have to do some work:
Marcus Freeman, Lance Louis.
Freeeman had durability questions coming into the draft and thus why he fell to the fifth round. He is versatile enough to play all three linebacker positions, which should help his chances. But with Briggs, Urlacher, and Roach starting, and Hunter, Jamar Williams and Joey LaRocque backing them up, he will have to show something to the coaches on special teams.
Louis is a sort of renaissance man. He is 300 pounds yet he played tight end. He could also be a guard on the offensive line. Again, versatility makes a player harder to cut in camp. As long as he can demonstrate the talent to play either or both of those positions, he should make the team (although being a seventh rounder, he is an inexpensive gamble.)
The drafted rookies who are going to need a break:
Derek Kinder, Al Afalava
Since Kinder will be fighting with eight other receivers on the roster (Hester, Bennett, Iglesias, Knox, Davis, Rideau, Broussard, and Aromashodu) for probably five roster positions, his chances would look bleak.
Add in the fact that he is trying to shake off an injury and will have pressure from both undrafted free agents and practice squad players, odds of him dressing in a Bears uni appears to be astronomical. His best chances are if he gets put on IR for a year.
Afalava has a better chance of making the team now than Kinder strictly based upon position need. With the release of Mike Brown, there is a huge hole at the free safety position. The battle will come down to Craig Steltz and free agent pick up Josh Bullocks. (Neither inspires confidence). Also jockeying for playing time is Glenn Earl and ::Cough Cough:: Danieal Manning (who should never see the field as a safety ever again... EVER).
The other option that has been bouncing around on blogs and in the media is the shifting of either Nathan Vasher or Zachary Bowman to the safety spot. While it might take some time for either to learn the position, they both have shown great instincts and are known as ballhawks.
Afalava will have to show the same instincts AND an improved ability to wrap up a ball carrier if he is to make this team, much less see any playing time.
All of the undrafted free agents will probably not make it, but the most likely one to stick would be:
Will Ta’ufo’ou, a fullback from Cal.
Ta'ufo'ou is solid and strong. According to fellow BleacherReport writer Jake Perper, he received interest from a number of different teams but chose the Bears due to the fact he could compete for the starting position right away.
And frankly, I think a change is needed. Jason McKie has been a decent option at fullback for a number of years, but never exceptional. Expect Ta'ufo'ou to make a strong push for not only a roster spot, bu a starting role.
(Read Jake's complete breakdown here.)
The Dark-horse to make the team:
Eric Peterman, Wide Receiver out of Northwestern.
Peterman is a sure-handed, speedy player. He will come in and make a positive impact in terms of receiver competition and on special teams. While there is a log jam of unproven talent at receiver, do not be surprised if Peterman comes out alive not only due to his skill but also to his great character.
In a league that has been known for too much negative publicity, Peterman is a quality, stand-out individual both on and off the field.
The veterans that need to be looking over their shoulder:
DT Dusty Dvoracek, CB Nathan Vasher, OT Cody Balrog, OG Dan Buenning, DT Matt Toeaina, CB Marcus Hamilton, FB Jason McKie and previously mentioned WR Aromashodu and John Broussard.
With two receivers taken in the first five rounds and the odds that Angelo attempts to sign a veteran being fairly high, look for a couple of them to be cut and another few to be relegated to practice squad and/or IR.
Also with two more defensive lineman taken expect the pressure to be on oft injured tackle Dusty Dvoracek and career back up Matt "Big Toe" Toeaina. Add in the slew of free agent offensive lineman the Bears signed and a couple unproven players could be running out of time.
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