Freddie Stevenson has an uphill battle if he wants to make the Chicago Bears roster on opening day.
An undrafted free agent out of Florida State University, Stevenson is an intriguing player. He has excellent athleticism for a fullback, albeit a tad undersized for the position in the NFL. But don’t let his size fool you. Stevenson paved the way for one of the FBS’ most dynamic running backs in Dalvin Cook.
A bruising lead-blocker could do wonders for the ever-patient Jordan Howard and the Bears running game. Imagine having roughly 450 combined pounds of angry back coming downhill on unsuspecting linebackers and safeties. It makes me drool to think of having that kind of power running game!
But blocking is just one part of Stevenson’s game. Despite not catching many passes in college (19), he shows natural hands and could be a useful weapon on play-action passes as an outlet receiver. Stevenson has also shown an ability to be a bruiser when carrying the ball in short-yardage situations. He has a 5.3 yard per attempt average on 25 carries in his college career.
The biggest question mark for Stevenson is his ability to pass protect. The Seminoles simply did not ask him to do much in the way of pass blocking. This is something that will be a key for him in making the team and becoming versatile enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster.
A glimmer of hope lies in the fact that the Bears have kept a fullback on the roster several times in the past few years, despite the decline of the position at the NFL level.
Weight: 241 pounds
Contract and salary cap:
According to Over The Cap, Stevenson’s deal with the Bears is for three years, is worth $1,665,00, with no guaranteed money. His base salary in 2017 is $465,000 which increases to $555,000 in 2018 and $645,000 in 2019.
Reason for improvement in 2017
As an undrafted free agent, there is really no track record to go off of other than his college tape. Stevenson came from a pro-style offense at Florida State which should make his learning curve relatively small. Fullback is also a position that is relatively straightforward wherever you happen to play. If he makes the team, he should be able to carve out a role and make an impact, even if the stat sheet doesn’t reflect it.
Reason for regression in 2017
With no guaranteed money on his deal, Stevenson has to impress coaches in training camp. First and foremost, he has to stay healthy for the duration of the offseason. If he can’t, or if he struggles to learn the playbook and stand out, his chances of making the team are pretty slim.
Final roster odds
The biggest reason for optimism for Stevenson is the fact that the Bears have been carrying a fullback on the roster in recent years. The biggest hurdle facing a roster spot are that the recently signed Michael Burton has NFL experience and is still only 25-years old. Couple that with tight ends Zach Miller, Daniel Brown and Ben Braunecker, who are three players fighting for one or two spots, all of whom have the ability to play a hybrid fullback, h-back, or tight end role in the Bears offense. I am going to give Stevenson a 10 percent chance to make the roster. He will need to force the issue by beating out Burton and proving to be a better blocker than the tight ends. He could find his way onto the practice squad with a good showing as well.
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