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Who Will Be The Fan Darkhorse for 2018?

It seems like almost every year, the fans get behind an undrafted free agent and expect the player to turn into a diamond-in-the-rough steal. Sometimes this happens. Sometimes it doesn’t. Who will get the love and the expectations this year?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Dane Sanzenbacher? Somehow, an undrafted free agent whose breakout season in 2011 included 16 games with 27 receptions 276 yards, and 3 touchdowns (and a meager 50% catch rate) became an icon of sorts for some Chicago fans. His name produced debates, there was speculation about him developing chemistry with Jay Cutler, and then...

...well, in the next three years on two teams, Sanzenbacher would fail to meet the accomplishments of that single season. In fact, he would only add 16 receptions, 173 yards, and not a single additional touchdown for the remainder of his NFL career. To put that into perspective, Kendall Wright had more reception and yards for the 2017 Bears than Sanzenbacher had in his NFL career. However, Sanzenbacher received way more love than Wright ever enjoyed.

However, other fan favorites turn out well. In 2014, fans were excited about Christian Jones. They liked his tape, they liked his aggressiveness, and they liked what he had to offer as a player. Now in his fifth year in the league after playing four years in Chicago, Jones has played in 63 games with 31 starts, and per Pro Football Reference, his CAV of 18 would ties him with the 51st best of drafted players that year (for amusement and comparison, Allen Robinson carries a 20 CAV and Kyle Fuller carries a 17 CAV).

Cameron Meredith went from being undrafted in 2015 to serving as the team’s leading receiver in 2016. Meanwhile, Tanner Gentry received an amazing amount of attention for a player with 3 catches and 35 yards when the scores actually mattered. Imagine if he had played for Nagy, though, right?

Ultimately, there is always a darkhorse fan favorite. This year it might be Nyles Morgan, a “hometown” kid who came over from Notre Dame. Kevin Toliver might attract fans with a good camp day or a break on the ball in a preseason game.

Especially in Chicago, home to the Grabowskis instead of the Smiths, the undrafted free agent has a particular appeal. So, use the comments section below and tell us who is going to be the next Cam Meredith or Christian Jones. For that matter, tell us who you think is going to be a Dane Sanzenbacher, destined for both expectations and disappointments.