Each and every year, hundreds of college players look forward to hearing their names called during the NFL draft. While some ultimately hear their names get called, many sit through the three-day ordeal without getting a phone call.
While it may seem like the end of the road, many of those players get the opportunity to choose where they would like to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Along with their six draft picks, the Chicago Bears brought in a bevy of undrafted free agents who hope to make their mark with the coaching staff and make the roster for the 2013 season.
Here are five undrafted free agents who can make the Bears roster.
After franchise tagging Henry Melton and letting go of Matt Toeaina this offseason, the Bears have just three defensive tackles with prior NFL experience.
There is still a possibility that the team could bring back Israel Idonije or Amobi Okoye, but an undrafted free agent, like Zach Minter, could push to make the 53-man roster.
Minter was an under-the-radar player coming into the draft but was a two-time All-Big Sky first-team selection while at Montana State. He was not invited to the NFL combine but did participate in one of the regional combines, turning in a 4.80 in the 40-yard dash and a 34.5-inch vertical jump—which would have been good enough for the best 40-yard dash time and second best vertical jump at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
He has good footwork and shows explosiveness off the ball. He could find himself working toward playing the 3-technique position, the same as Melton.
Given how thin the defensive tackle position is, Minter could find himself not only on the 53-man roster but also fighting for a spot in the defensive tackle rotation.
Last offseason, general manager Phil Emery was finally able to give Jay Cutler the star wide receiver he so desperately needed. While Brandon Marshall put up spectacular numbers, the rest of the wide receiver corps struggled with their production and their health.
Marshall along with Alshon Jeffery, Earl Bennett, Eric Weems and seventh-round draft Marquess Wilson are expected to be the main contributors at the position, but the team could still be searching for a speedy wide receiver who can play the slot and also help spread the ball down field.
While at Iowa State, Josh Lenz did not have the greatest of numbers, hauling in 104 catches for 1,325 yards and 10 touchdowns in four seasons. But considering the lack of production at the quarterback position, Lenz could have a lot of untapped potential.
He was impressive at Iowa State's pro day, running an unofficial 4.35 40-yard dash time (h/t Ames Tribune), which helped garner the attention of many scouts who were likely only in attendance for linebacker A.J. Klein's workout.
Lenz has good hands and has shifty quickness but is not the most explosive runner off the snap. His good hands and route-running ability could push him into a sixth wide receiver role. He could see some snaps in the slot if he can build a rapport with Cutler in training camp.
Since the departure of Olin Kreutz prior to the 2011 season, Roberto Garza, a former guard, has taken over at the center position.
Garza was serviceable in his first season on the job but struggled at times last season. The team expects to head into the season with Garza as the starter but brought in undrafted free agent P.J. Lonergan as a potential long-term solution.
Centers tend not to get drafted high, and although some thought Lonergan might have went in the sixth or seventh round, he went undrafted. The Bears' quickly jumped at the opportunity to sign him.
He started 36 games over the last three seasons and showed the strength and nastiness that are desired at the position. He tends to play with a high pad level and will have to work on his knee bend to get better leverage against his opponent.
Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has had past success grooming late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents into successful NFL starters. Lonergan will be his first project in Chicago.
Despite having two Pro Bowl cornerbacks last season, the Bears are still in need of depth and youth at the position.
Many thought the team would address the position in the draft, but the Bears decided to go in other directions. However, they did sign a couple of undrafted free agents, including North Carolina State's C.J. Wilson.
Wilson was thrown in as a starter as a freshman but regressed and was forced out by bigger, more physical cornerbacks. He played well in the nickel this past season, and according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, he impressed the Bears staff with his ability to get his hands on the ball a couple of weeks ago during rookie minicamp.
Wilson is raw, but he has tremendous speed and showed he has a knack for getting into the end zone (three career interceptions for touchdowns). He saw some time with the Bears second team earlier this week at the nickelback position and could be pushing to become the backup behind veteran Kelvin Hayden once training camp comes around.
It came as a shock that Michael Ford decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft after compiling just 392 yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries in 2012 while being overshadowed at LSU.
In his limited carries, he was able to show off his great speed and his ability to make tacklers miss. He doesn't break a lot of tackles but has displayed the knack of lowering his shoulder and trying to pick up extra yardage.
He could hang on with the team as a kick returner but with proven veterans Devin Hester and Eric Weems ahead of him on the depth chart, he will have to beat out third-string running back Armando Allen.
He was impressive in rookie minicamps and during the first portion of organized team activities. Chicago Sun-Times' Adam Jahns was "really impressed with free agent RB/KR Michael Ford (LSU) during #Bears rookie minicamp. Always seemed to be making a big/nice play."
If he can show that he has the explosiveness and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, he would stand a shot at beating out Allen as the team's third-string running back in 2013.