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Bears UDFA breakdown: Ryan Nall

Every year a few UDFAs make the Chicago Bears’ 53-man roster, so we’ll take a look at the Top 10 most likely to do so. This time, we’re looking at former Oregon State tailback Ryan Nall.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Arizona
Ryan Nall was one of the Bears’ most prolific undrafted free agent signings this year, but can he find his way onto the 53-man roster?
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

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 past few weeks, I’ve taken a look at 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’re diving into the player who finishes No. 2 on my list: Ryan Nall.


Nall had a prolific career at Oregon State, as his 2,216 rushing yards is the eighth-best total in school history. He has a career yards-per-carry average of 5.8, which ties for the highest average, and his 24 touchdowns in the seventh-best total. Nall started off his collegiate career as a tight end, scoring three touchdowns and tallying 564 yards from scrimmage as a freshman in 2015, although most of his production came as a runner. He moved to running back the following year and ran for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns on 147 carries. He followed that up with 810 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 2017 on 165 carries. Nall proved to be a receiving threat, as well, catching 56 passes for 563 yards and four touchdowns with Oregon State.

Nall attended Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon, where he shined as a first-team all-state player at both running back and linebacker as a senior. He ran for 1,684 yards and 22 touchdowns in his senior year, resulting in his being named the Oregon Sports Awards Prep Football Player of the Year. He led his team to their first state championship victory in 60 years and was also a member of the basketball team.

Skill set

There are a handful of cut-ups of Nall, including his outing against Stanford from last season:

One of Nall’s biggest selling points in making the Bears’ 53-man roster is his versatility. With experience at running back, fullback and H-back tight end, he can be used in a lot of different ways and offers play calling flexibility. The six-foot-two, 237-pound back has a muscular frame and is built to take punishing hits at the next level. He has a strong lower body and good balance, and he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder to pick up extra yards.

Nall is more than just a bull in a china shop, though, as he has impressive athleticism for his size and has good breakaway speed. He has good inside ball-carrier vision and hits the hole hard as a downhill runner. He also has smooth hands and is a solid route runner, giving him value as a receiver in addition to his running ability.

Nall isn’t the most agile of running backs, however. He can be a bit stiff-hipped when he runs, and he doesn’t have the ability to bounce outside of the tackles when plays blow up inside. The former Beaver will have to prove himself as a reliable blocker if he wants to secure a role as a fullback, as he didn’t do much blocking in college.

Chances of making the 53-man roster

Ryan Nall is no lock to make the active roster, but he definitely has a shot to make it. With the Bears already having the likes of Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham on the roster, Nall’s chances bank on whether or not the team will choose to add a fourth running back to the roster. He could also be brought on as the team’s fullback, but that depends on if Chicago will even keep a fullback. Even if they do, then he will have to fight with four-year veteran Michael Burton to make the roster. Given his skill set, youth and versatility, though, an argument could be made that Nall would be the better choice in that scenario. Overall, the rookie has about a 50/50 chance of making the 53-man roster.

Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also an NFL Draft writer at USA Today SMG’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or emailed at