Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Dick “Night Train” Lane. Antonio Gates.
Over the years, there have been several undrafted free agents who have left indelible marks on the game of football. Despite not being seen as worthy enough of an NFL Draft selection, these players have overcome the odds and have gone on to become successful NFL players.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to take a look at of 10 of the undrafted free agents that the Chicago Bears signed this offseason to try and determine who stands the best chance of making it to the 53-man roster. In this article, we’ll look at the third player on the list: former Indiana star Rashard Fant.
Fant had a productive career at Indiana, as he is the school’s all-time leader in passes defended with 58. He also has the school’s highest pass breakups total with 53. An honorable mention All-Big Ten this year, Fant had 24 tackles, nine breakups and an interception. His pass breakup skills were on another level the previous two years, though: he had 17 in 2016 and 22 in 2015, the latter of which being the second-most in the nation.
Fant was a three-time all-state player in high school at Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fayetteville, Georgia. He was also a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball for three seasons and running track and field for one. He graduated from college in December of 2016 with an SPEA management degree and is preparing to get a master’s degree in public affairs.
There are several cut-ups of Fant on YouTube. None of them are any longer than five minutes, but the overall sum of the videos provide a good feel for his skill set.
Fant doesn’t have elite length by any means at five-foot-ten and 179 pounds, but he has the athleticism and cover skills to be a threat coming out of the slot. He’s a great athlete with fluid hips and good acceleration coming out of his breaks, and he can mirror routes very well. He has very good ball skills and can attack the ball with great leaping ability and good body control. Fant is a quick processor whose tape studies are apparent when watching him on film: he’s a very intelligent player.
As mentioned earlier, Fant’s diminutive stature will play against him in the NFL. He’s a poor tackler who struggles to shed blocks and doesn’t play with nearly as much effort against the run as he does in coverage. He has issues with penalties, as well, as he was flagged 21 times in the past three seasons. Fant does a good job of deflecting passes, but his unsteady hands make it tough for him to actually make catches.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Fant was a draftable prospect this past April, and it was fairly surprising to see him fall into undrafted free agency. However, he is fighting for a roster spot with fellow undrafted free agents Kevin Toliver and Michael Joseph, who both are talented cornerback prospects in their own right. Only one of the three will realistically make the 53-man roster - if any at all - which hurts Fant’s chances quite a bit. He’ll most likely end up on the practice squad this year, but could be called up to the active roster if injuries aris.