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Bears roster breakdown, 90-in-90: Joel Bouagnon

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Taking a look at undrafted rookie running back Joel Bouagnon in the latest installment of this Bears roster series.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The local boy is always a fun player to root for in football.

Local players, usually undrafted free agents, get a chance to live out their dream playing for the team that they rooted for growing up. This year's most notable prospect for the Chicago Bears is arguably running back Joel Bouagnon, who grew up in nearby Aurora.

The Northern Illinois alum is coming off of a four-year collegiate career in which he was the starting running back for three years. Bouagnon amassed 2,912 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns during his tenure with the Huskies. The former First-Team All-MAC back looks to make his mark in the NFL like he did in college football.

Bouagnon is a thumping, downhill running back in the style of Alfred Morris. He has a power lower body and is able to break tackles with relative ease. He displays a high motor on the field: it takes a lot of effort to bring him down. He's a patient runner whose vision allows him to hit holes efficiently. Bouagnon is also a solid blocker for a running back.

However, the former NIU back isn't necessarily a blazing runner. He lacks top-end breakaway speed, which will likely relegate him to a short-yardage back in the pros. While he is powerful and is good at hitting holes, he isn't able to do a whole lot once he breaks free. He's also not much of a factor in the passing game, either.


Age: 22 years old

Experience: Rookie

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 228 pounds

Contract and salary cap:

Bouagnon is currently under a three-year, $1,665,000 contract, with no money guaranteed. His base salary this season will be $465,000 with no dead cap.

Reason for improvement in 2017:

If Jordan Howard were to go down with an injury, Bouagnon would likely assume his duties as a short-yardage back. None of the other running backs that the Bears have besides Howard are as powerful as he is. They may want to keep Bouagnon on board as a solid insurance option.

Reason for regression in 2017:

Bouagnon has a lot of competition to make the 53-man roster. Outside of Howard, the Bears have Jeremy Langford, Tarik Cohen, Ka'Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham on the roster. Cohen, one of their fourth-round picks this year, is basically a lock to make the team. Langford still has plenty of potential to tap into after a down 2016 season. Carey has been a steady backup option since his rookie year in 2014, and Cunningham is a recent free-agent signee.

Final roster odds:

Bouagnon is a solid player, but he faces an uphill battle to make the Bears' 53-man roster. The competition he faces may be too steep for him to overcome. The best chance he'd have to make the team would be to bulk up and move to fullback, although that in itself would be a challenge. While he might not make the team, he definitely has a future in the NFL. Chicago would be wise to keep him on their practice squad if no team claims him off of waivers. If they don't, then another team could use him as a steady short-yardage back.