Can a guy that is on his sixth team since being drafted in 2010 finally realize his potential?
Tom Waddle was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1989 by the Chicago Bears. He was released four different times in the next two years by Chicago before finally breaking out with a 55 catch season in 1991. He was also voted as the first face on Mt. Lunchpail in 2013 right here on WCG.
Wide out Marcus Robinson was drafted in the 4th round of the 1997 draft by the Bears, he didn't see the field as a rookie. His Bears debut was the following season when he appeared in three games and ended up with whopping four receptions. The following season, 1999, he exploded for 84 and 1,400.
Former Bears offensive lineman John Wojciechowski graduated from Michigan State in 1985, went undrafted, and didn't get a shot at the NFL until 1987. That year the NFL went on strike and Wojciechowski tried out for the Spare Bears team that played three game in place of the "real" Chicago Bears. He not only started all three of those scab games, but the Bears kept him around on the actual roster when the strike ended. He finished his seven year Bears career with 39 starts in 92 games, and he was the recipient of the 1991 Ed Block Courage Award.
Point being, the path to an NFL roster isn't always an easy one. The league is littered with players that were benched and/or cut numerous times only to eventually find a home on an NFL roster.
Chicago tight end Fendi Onobun no doubt has the athleticism and size (6'6", 260) to play professional football, but he's been lacking in the technique.
Perhaps now with another season under his belt, albeit only as a practice squad member of the Bears in 2013, but perhaps the full year's work practicing football is what he needed to reach his potential.
His collegiate stats weren't impressive.
In 2011 at Houston, his first ever year as a football player, he had 2 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown in 11 games.
Prior to that, his collegiate basketball stats were better, but still nothing to crow about.
In four years and 81 games at Arizona, he totaled 143 points and 95 rebounds.
It was his pro day showing in 2011, and the trend of the hoops player to the gridiron that turned scouts' attention his way. His 4.48 forty and 37.5' vertical stood out along with his quickness, honed on the basketball court.
He stuck with the St. Louis Rams as a rookie 6th round draft pick for the entirety of the 2010 season, appearing in three games and making two catches for 15 yards. He was cut before the next season started. A practice squad stint with Seattle and then Washington was next, followed by brief active roster time in Jacksonville and then Buffalo in 2011. The Bills cut him loose during preseason 2012. He signed with the Bears in January of 2013, was released with the final cut-downs, then added to their practice squad.
No team seemed willing to stick with Onobun in multiple years until now; he was just too raw a prospect. Bears head coach Marc Trestman believes in Onobun, and he envisions a potential mismatch for defenses in the Jimmy Graham / Antonio Gates mold: too big for defensive backs to cover and too fast for linebackers. Odds on him becoming as great as those two other college basketball to football players are slim, but who's to say he can't make an impact?
Onobun is about to start only his fourth year playing organized football, and he recently spoke of his growth last season with the Chicago Sun Times.
"It was definitely a year to watch and learn," said Onobun, who spent last season on the practice squad. "It was a great situation for me with my history. It was a great opportunity to learn football, play football and practice and just continue to work on my skill set."
That skill set was tested when he visited Brandon Marshall's Fit-Speed Athletic Performance training center a couple times this off season to work out with his teammates.
Stranger things have happened in the NFL, so don't be so quick to discount him as anything more than a camp body in 2014.
"Instead of being an athlete, it's be a football player," said Onobun, "That's the biggest thing I'm really looking forward to this year, just turning my skill set into a football skill set and how I can be a better football player as opposed to just an athlete out there running and catching a football."
Maybe the 2013 season spent on catching, route running and blocking was all he needed gain the confidence to catapult himself to the final 53 man roster for the 2014 Chicago Bears.