The first roster of the Matt Eberflus-Ryan Poles era is relatively young, unproven, and has several holes to fill.
Eberflus and Poles tore the roster down to the studs and will use the 2022 season to see which players are part of their long-term vision. A team on the ground floor of an expected lengthy rebuild provides plenty of opportunities for late-round and undrafted players to earn an NFL job and contribute immediately.
It’s an uphill climb for any undrafted free agent. But the Bears present one of the best chances in the NFL to win a roster spot, and a few UDFAs will enter training camp with a chance to make an impact.
Here are four undrafted free agents who could contribute to the 2022 Bears.
Jack Sanborn, LB
The Deer Park native lacks the length and athleticism required to be a three-down linebacker in the modern NFL. But Sanborn, a tackling machine during his time at Wisconsin, could play himself into a role as the Bears’ two-down SAM backer in Eberflus’ defense.
The Bears brought in Matt Adams this offseason, and the veteran will have the inside track to win that job in training camp. But Sanborn is technically sound and has good instincts as a downhill, in-the-box tackler.
Given the Bears’ personnel and the ways of the modern NFL, we don’t expect the Bears to spend a lot of time in their base defense. But when the SAM linebacker is needed this fall, there’s a chance Sanborn will have his number called.
Micah Dew-Treadway, DL
The Bears’ defensive line rotation is relatively thin both inside and out.
Justin Jones will man the three-technique in Eberflus’ defense, with Mario Edwards Jr., Angelo Blackson, and Mike Pennel providing depth.
But Dew-Treadway made a few nice plays during Bears mandatory minicamp. The undrafted rookie out of Minnesota by way of Notre Dame batted deflected two passes by Justin Fields, one of which led to an interception.
It’s hard to evaluate line play without pads, but Dew-Treadway did enough during minicamp to be on the coaches’ radar heading into training camp.
Carson Taylor, EDGE
With Robert Quinn’s future in Chicago up in the air, the Bears’ pass-rush rotation needs a little work.
If Quinn is eventually traded, Trevis Gipson will go from the No. 2 pass rusher to the No. 1 option. That bumps free-agent acquisition Al-Quadin Muhammad up into the No. 2 slot opposite Gipson and puts pressure on fifth-round pick Dominique Robinson to be a reliable depth option in his rookie season.
Outside those three, the Bears have Sam Kamara, Charles Snowden, and undrafted free agent Carson Taylor rounding out the group. They could wind up moving Edwards back outside, but the Bears say Edwards will be on the interior at the moment.
With the pass-rush rotation lacking, Taylor, an explosive athlete with a quick first step, should have a good chance to earn a spot in camp. The Northern Arizona product recorded 19 career sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss in 28 collegiate starts.
Taylor is a high-upside player who the Bears might have to take a chance on, especially if Quinn doesn’t suit up again.
Kevin Shaa, WR
In case you haven’t heard, the Bears’ wide receiving corps lacks some punch outside of Darnell Mooney.
The Bears are relying on more opportunities equaling more production for Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown. They drafted Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, and the Tennessee product likely will serve in a do-it-all gadget role this fall.
Shaa, a vertical threat during his collegiate years, could find a home in the Bears’ receiving corps. Shaa averaged 18.4 yards per catch during his final season at Liberty, serving as a big-play threat for quarterback Malik Willis. Shaa was one of the few rookies who stood out during a packed rookie minicamp in May, making an acrobatic catch down the sideline on a poorly thrown ball from Ryan Willis.
While Shaa’s poor blocking ability could limit his role, the Bears need a receiver who can create big plays down the field, and Shaa could find himself on the roster at the end of training camp.