First things first: I'm not counting out a member of the Mack family when it comes to football. You shouldn't either.
But Ledarius Mack — Khalil’s younger brother and an undrafted rookie — has a difficult path to earning a roster spot in 2020.
That goes for every undrafted rookie in a year with significantly fewer practices than normal. No OTAs, no minicamps, a possibly truncated training camp — all those mean fewer opportunities for players like Mack to impress coaches enough to earn a roster spot.
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Outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino rattled off some of the areas in which Mack — and, again, every other undrafted free agent — will be behind. Among them are run fits, scheme recognition and coverage responsibilities.
“Those are things that you can’t teach on tape,” Monachino said. “Those are things that a guy in shoes has to be standing out there on the grass and get better at in a day-by-day basis. So for those reasons, those guys are all behind.”
Ledarius Mack (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) is smaller than his brother (6-foot-3, 269 pounds) and had seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss his senior year at Buffalo. For comparison: Khalil had 10 1/2 sacks and 18 1/2 tackles for a loss in his respective senior year at Buffalo.
Ledarius wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine and was always expected to go the undrafted free agent route. But Monachino said he’s interested to figure out what Ledarius is best at — and that’ll determine if he can make the Bears’ roster or not.
“This is a player that is a little bit of a renaissance football player in terms of he does a lot of things well,” Monachino said. I’m trying to figure out exactly where he is going to have that dominant trait. Every guy has one. That’s what rosters in this league are made of, because they’re small, you have to find what’s the one thing that that guy can be.”
Monachino’s right — undrafted rookies who are good at a bunch of things but great at nothing don’t often make NFL rosters. If you’re vying to be the 52nd or 53rd man on the team, you need to have something to consistently bring to the table. For some players, it’s speed. For others, it’s a knack for special teams. But there has to be something there.
Monachino doesn’t know what that is for Ledarius, or if he even possesses it. The lack of that singular trait is often why seemingly-promising undrafted free agents don’t make a roster.
But I’m absolutely not writing off a member of the Mack family's ability to make an NFL roster. And for Ledarius, having his brother around as a resource and example certainly can’t hurt his chances of earning a spot in Chicago.
“Then the second thing that I would say I’m excited about is to see the interaction with two brothers in the same meeting room,” Monachino said. “I haven’t had that in my history. So I’m looking forward to seeing that dynamic and that relationship and seeing how it affects and if it affects the rest of the guys in our room. I hope it does. I know they’re very close.”