The never ending search for a competent back up to starting tight end Martellus Bennett continued today, as the Chicago Bears traded a 6th round draft pick in 2017 to the Houston Texans for undrafted rookie Khari Lee. In a corresponding move, the team released tight end Blake Annen.
Trading a pick for an undrafted free agent tells me that they must really like Lee's upside, and that probably makes him a roster lock. So far this preseason for the Texans, the 23 year old Lee has 5 receptions for 71 yards. He's listed at 6'4", 235 pounds and he played his college ball at Maryland's Bowie State University. While there he had 107 receptions for 1,255 yards and four touchdowns.
According to Houston sportswriter John McClain, the Bears like Lee as an in-line blocker.
Him being a good blocker actually contradicts one of the scouting reports on him.
STRENGTHS: Has very capable hands. Catches the ball away from his body and can adjust both high and low to go get it. Carries the seam route well. Will go over a defender to make the catch and retains his focus. Moved all over the field. Used traditionally, from slot, out of backfield and split out. Was effective from each spot. Good body control.
WEAKNESSES: Played a much lower level of competition and wasn't challenged by same level of speed and physicality. Technique as in-line blocker needs polish. Doesn't run his feet at contact as consistently as he should to sustain as a blocker. Average quickness off the snap into routes.
Perhaps the coaching he received from the Texans helped him polish his skills as a blocker, or maybe the Bears just feel like he's a better option than the other TEs on the roster behind Bennett.
He's another in the trend of former basketball players turned tight end, but his pro day didn't wow any scouts.
Here are a couple twitter reactions to the trade;
Khari has surely turned some heads around league evaluators & Texans knew he probably wouldn't pass thru waivers. Get a 6th back for UDFA.— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) September 2, 2015
Khari Lee should have solid opportunity to make Bears, would have likely been claimed if cut by Texans, should have role in Chicago— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) September 2, 2015
And a few twitter nuggets from his play so far during camp and preseason;
Mike McFarland was a camp standout before the pads came on & looked fluid catching but Khari Lee stole the show in the blocking element.— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) August 18, 2015
Khari Lee showing strong look today. Big deep ball reception from Mallett. #Texans.— PDS (@PatDStat) August 1, 2015
Khari Lee pic.twitter.com/TeoDM43BWD— Nik Alvarado (@SuperNiktendo) August 2, 2015
Savage throws it up for a well-covered TE Khari Lee, who goes up and gets it over the defender for a 21-yd gain.— Adam Wexler (@awexler) August 23, 2015
And then of course there this;
What are your thoughts on this trade?